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Modeling Gaps and Overlaps of Sustainability Standards



Paul W. Witherell, Sudarsan Rachuri, Anna D'Alessio


Organizational and production dispersions in manufacturing enterprises can create situations where manufacturers are asked to conform to multiple sustainability standards to participate in targeted markets. These standards may vary in scope, application domain, and implementation strategies, thus creating a challenge for stakeholders to identify, select and implement applicable standards. As standard conformity can be evaluated through information requirements, earlier research explored and conclusively advocated the development of information models through an approach based on the Zachman Framework. In further work we were able to demonstrate how results from the Zachman-based approach can be leveraged to identify gaps and overlaps between standards. This paper expands upon our previous research by proposing the use of ontologies as a formal means for representing and comparing the information requirements of sustainability standards, thus enabling a better understanding of gaps and overlaps between standards. To prototype our work, we analyze three selected standards and subsequently model their information elements in the form of three separate taxonomies. These taxonomies are then analyzed and synthesized into a single ontology. Reasoning mechanisms demonstrate how gaps and overlaps can be semi-automatically determined when a new standard is introduced into the ontology. We discuss the implementation of these reasoning mechanisms and the results. Finally, when discussing development and implementation, we allude to how this approach may serve as a basis for a methodology that can assist companies in streamlining the implementation process of sustainability standards.
Proceedings Title
19th CIRP Conference on Life Cycle Engineering 2012
Conference Dates
May 23-25, 2012
Conference Location
Berkeley, CA


Sustainability standards, Zachman Framework, information modeling, ontology, sustainable manufacturing


Witherell, P. , Rachuri, S. and D'Alessio, A. (2012), Modeling Gaps and Overlaps of Sustainability Standards, 19th CIRP Conference on Life Cycle Engineering 2012, Berkeley, CA, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created May 28, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017