Sustainable design is at the forefront


Something that is becoming ever-present in the minds of designers and engineers in the design process is a concept’s green credentials. Concerns about a company’s carbon footprint have gained traction in recent years, alongside growing consumer interest in eco-friendly products.

In the past, sustainable design work fell by the wayside during recessions; however the most recent recession has fuelled interest in sustainability. As a result, the design community is becoming increasingly interested in the life cycle assessment (LCA) of comparable materials to be used in parts and assemblies. Life cycle assessment (ISO 14040) is the best way to measure the relative 'green-ness' of a product, letting you find out which ecodesign strategy will make the most meaningful environmental performance improvement.

Major consumer manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Nike and Unilever promote sustainable design, aiming for bio-plastic packaging and ethical products. The entire sector of ethical products is reportedly valued at £43bn (bigger than alcohol and tobacco products) and is seeing high levels of growth largely as a result of increased consumer demand.

Accordingly, eco-conscious design consultancies typically spend a lot of time carrying out assessments into a product’s sustainability. This can place a great deal of demand on a company’s human capital, requiring detailed knowledge and skills as well as sufficient time to perform an analysis.

For designers and engineers there are software solutions that can help carry out life cycle assessments. Applications like SolidWorks Sustainability can conduct an LCA in real time to assess a design’s environmental impact and sustainability, ensuring that each decision is consciously made. Environmental concerns addressed in the design process can be done so with knowledge of practical and environmental conflicts, allowing the designer to realise the impact that changing materials may have on a product’s integrity.

Users of SolidWorks Sustainability benefit from an eco-centric experience with functions integrated into the workflow. Comprehensive life cycle assessments can be carried out quickly and easily as a product’s overall environmental impact is viewed and benchmarked in real time. Designers can therefore make quick decisions in full knowledge of their impact on the environment, reducing the need for post-design LCA’s.


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