Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory
McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
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ISEN 210: Introduction to Sustainability: Challenges and Solutions

This survey course provides an introduction to the importance of life-cycle systems perspectives in understanding major challenges and solutions to achieving more sustainable societies. The course begins with an overview of sustainability challenges in the context of energy and resource use, consumption and development, and environmental constraints. Basic methods for life-cycle environmental inventory and impacts modeling are introduced and applied. The life-cycle perspective is used to develop a quantitative understanding of potential solution pathways, including technology innovation and deployment, behavioral and societal changes, and policies, standards, and regulations.

ISEN 210 is
one of three core courses for Northwestern's Undergraduate Certificate in Energy and Sustainability.

Next offering: Fall 2013

ME/ChBE 395: Quantitative Methods in Life Cycle Analysis

This course provides a comprehensive overview of LCA theory and analysis approaches, and thereby introduces students to the state-of-the-art method for assessing and reducing the environmental impacts of product, process, and technology systems.  An emphasis is placed on quantitative methods in LCA.  The course starts with system boundary and functional unit design approaches, and then covers both process-based and input-output-based methods for modeling mass and energy flows in life-cycle systems.  Students will then learn modeling techniques for estimating relevant environmental impacts of these systems over different scales of time and space, and from both attributional and consequential perspectives.  The course concludes with an overview of modeling methods for prospective LCA and life-cycle systems optimization.

Next offering: Spring 2014

ME/ChBE 495: Sustainable Manufacturing Systems

This course teaches students how to apply fundamental theory in thermodynamics, heat transfer, engineering economics, and systems modeling to the analysis of major industrial energy systems (e.g., steam systems, motor systems, pump systems, and process heating systems) and resource systems (e.g., water use, material transformations and processing) in plants, supply chains, and industrial product systems. Further, this course introduces students to advanced technologies and engineering methods for maximizing the energy, economic, and resource efficiencies of these systems in a variety of industries. This course is designed to bridge the gap between energy and materials sciences theory and applied industrial-environmental systems engineering. It also provides students with important “systems thinking” perspectives to improve the sustainability of manufacturing systems -- and the products they produce -- in a cost-effective manner.

Next offering: Spring 2014

New online course!

How Green Is That Product? An Introduction to Environmental Life Cycle Assessment

This is a free online course offered through Coursera.  In this course you will learn the basics of the life-cycle assessment (LCA) method for holistic environmental analysis of products, technologies, and systems. LCA sheds light on the environmental implications of the consumption and behavioral choices we all make on a daily basis.

Course enrollment is currently open.  Sign up at the following link:

Next offering: January 25th, 2014

Contact Us

Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Lab (ERSAL)
Technological Institute
2145 Sheridan Road, E127
Evanston, IL 60208-3100

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