New Product Design:

Eco-Effectiveness

Design for Environment (DfE)

Systemic Consideration of Design Performance with Respect to Environmental Objectives

 

Vadim Kotelnikov

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Cleaner Production Design for Environment (DfE) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) New Product Development New Product Design Cleaner Production

Five Steps of the DfE Process1

  1. Assess environmental impacts

  2. Research the market

  3. Run an ideas workshop

  4. Select design strategies

  5. Design the product

DfE Strategies1

  1. Selecting environmentally low-impact materials

  2. Avoiding toxic and hazardous materials

  3. Choosing cleaner production processes  >>>

  4. Maximizing energy efficiency in manufacture and use

  5. Maximizing water efficiency in use

  6. Designing for waste minimization and waste recycling

Outline of a Design Brief

General requirements

  • Define the primary function of the product

  • State the durability requirements

  • List aesthetic considerations... More

Use of LCA as a DfE Tool

The value of Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is in its ability to map a product's environmental impact across its whole life-cycle. Use of LCA as a DfE tool can1:

  • Benchmark the environmental performance of existing products

  • Develop environmental targets for the product development team to pursue

  • Provide an 'work-in-progress' assessment tool to review how a concept or detailed design might perform environmentally

  • Help the product development team make decisions regarding materials and components

  • Identify previously unknown impacts associated with a product and associated consumables

DfE Defined

Design for Environment (DfE), also known as eco-design and green design, recognizes that environmental impacts must be considered during the new product design process, along with all of the usual design criteria.

Value Innovation: Yin-Yang Strategies

The purpose of green design is to evaluate and identify ways to minimize the environmental burden resulting from products. It is defined as systemic consideration of design performance with respect to environmental, health, and safety objectives over the full product life cycle.

Continuous Improvement Mindset

Why and How of DfE

Lyfe Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides the framework for analyzing environmental impacts associated with a product, and DfE is the vehicle for practical application of that knowledge. DfE refers to a systematic process to improve the environmental performance of a product by changing its design. It has been estimated that most of the environmental impact of a product is determined by its design, and design changes can completely change a product's environmental footprint.

DfE usually starts with a review of LCA information (either qualitative or quantitative) to identify the primary environmental impacts of a product. The LCA may be supplemented by market research to assess customer needs and priorities or communication with stakeholders such as communities and NGOs to understand their expectations of the company. Cross-departmental teams including design engineers, marketing representatives, R&D, and others establish priorities for improvement based on a range of factors such as: the magnitude of the environmental impact, potential for cost savings, potential for increased marketability of a "green" product, degree of risk posed by different impacts to corporate image/brand, level of concern expressed by key stakeholders and other such issues.

 

 

Simplified Approach to LCA During the Product Design Stage

Traditional life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies are accurate and accepted ways of analyzing environmental burdens. However, a good LCA is time-consuming, expensive, and depends upon having clear and reliable information about the product. The new trend is towards simplified LCAs  instead of undertaking complex and detailed quantitative evaluations. It is particularly important to have a simplified LCA methodology to support decisions at the conceptual stage of product design. Decisions during the conceptual design stage have a great effect on the environment impact of the product. However, the detailed product information necessary for traditional quantitative LCA is often unavailable. A simplified LCA approach, called a learning surrogate LCA, was developed to make LCA predictions during the conceptual stages of design3.

Design for Waste Minimization

Waste minimization is a series of cyclical systems where materials are re-used or re-cycled as part of a closed loop.... More

Design Strategies for Product and Materials Recycling

New product design strategies for waste recycling include use of simple materials, effective disassembly and recycling... More

Success Stories Best Business Practices Hewlett Packard

HP incorporates socially responsible initiatives into its business operations. For instance, under a program called "Design for Environment," which was begun in mid-1990s, the firm recognizes that the environmental performance of many products is determined at the design stage.

By designing with corporate consciousness in mind, HP was able to develop printers that have parts which snap together, eliminating the need for adhesives that could be environmentally unsafe. HP is also experimenting with the prototype of a printer that is biodegradable, derived from corn maize. While it's not quite ready for the consumer market, it illustrates the type of environmentally friendly thinking that HP feels is essential.

  

References:

1. Design + Environment, Helen Lewis and John Gertsakis

2. Applying DfE through a Green Productivity Demonstration Program, Raymond Leung

3. A Simplified Approach to LCA During the Product Design Stage, Prof. Jahau Lewis Chen and Mr. Chih-Wei Liau