Search Results for 'sustainable minds'

EcoDesigner: LCA Plugin for Solid Edge

I’ve posted on similar tools from Sustainable Minds and Sustainability Xpress for SolidWorks, and now entering the Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) arena is EcoDesigner. EcoDesigner is a plugin for Solid Edge and was developed by Trayak, a consulting and software solutions company that focuses on product sustainability. The folks over at SolidSmack spoke to Prashant Jagtap of Trayak to get the deets on EcoDesigner and what makes it unique among other competing products.

Very few designers are aware of the environmental impact of their product designs. If designers are able to understand the baseline environmental footprints of their products and can analyze what can be done to reduce these it would drastically improve the overall sustainable aspects of design. 

I’ve been asking for more case studies to demonstrate the real-world applicability and viability of these tools and Prashant agrees that there is no easy way to “optimize” material choice using multiple properties. We need to use many more parameters that are relevant and important besides the existing LCA indicators. This is a huge problem requiring us to simultaneously solve for multiple parameters to be successful. But with software like EcoDesigner and those like it, we’re moving (albeit slowly) towards smarter product design.

[Read the entire SolidSmack interview here]

Bresslergroup Innovates Greener Shipping Reel

I know, you’re asking “What the heck is a shipping reel?”. I was asking the same thing. Turns out that wooden reels have been used for decades as the preferred solution for wire shipping, but its inefficient design makes them very difficult and cost prohibitive to ship back because they take up so much space. KALAS Wire, a wire and cable assembly manufacturer was facing increased pressure to reduce some of their operating costs. They hired Bresslergroup to focus on one of their biggest operating costs –the cost of wooden shipping reels used to ship millions of tons of wire and cables across the continental US.

Our assumption that a single plastic reel would be better than a single wooden reel, was also challenged by the life span we planned for this product and the series of Sustainable Minds LCAs we conducted. Our final solution ended up being different than we had imagined, a system of multiple wooden flanges and a single plastic core, with a lifespan that exceeded original expectations.

Here’s what they ended up with:

Their engineering analysis led Bresslergroup to realize that the ultimate reel should not be made only from plastic, but a combination of wood and plastic.  It was counter-intuitive, but made sense from a structural standpoint, and added up from an environmental impact stand point. Sustainable Minds has posted a webinar case study featuring Mathieu Terpault from Bresslergroup:

The benefits go beyond this reel in that the firm has awoken KALAS’ environmental conciseness and inspired the company to look at other ways to improve their “environmental performance.” Now there’s an example of a design firm completely changing they their client thinks and behaves.

So what do you think? Have you been considering a tool like Sustainable Minds to add to your tool belt? What’s been you experience? What were the deciding factors behind that decision?

Also see my article about SM’s other case study on fredsparks’ new eyeware line, info on IDSA’s OKALA Guide and a discount on an SM subscription for IDSA members.

[Full text of Sustainable Minds’ case study]

fredsparks Creates Greener Specs Using SM

The team at ID firm fredsparks in St. Louis used green product design software Sustainable Minds to develop the new Misura Eyewear. They used the SM tool to evaluate concept decisions early in the process, allowing them to capture an equity stake in a start up business developing sustainable reading eyewear. The product line is due out this month. So what was their experience using Sustainable Minds?

The business driver for using Sustainable Minds, however, goes beyond ‘the right thing to do.’ As consumer desire to make more socially and environmentally-conscious purchasing decisions continues to grow, we see a future for design that requires knowledge of lifecycle design, and of sustainable design strategies.

Sustainable Minds has published their case study as a webinar featuring Ken Harris from fredsparks:

So one question I have been asking is: does using this tool really make a difference and are clients willing to pay for this kind of in-depth research and integration of sustainability into the design process?

Being an early adopter of Sustainable Minds in the ID consulting arena – we have an opportunity to lead. Often, we find that our ability to offer our clients sustainable design solutions opens doors with them, even if the first project is not expressly a sustainable design initiative.

A couple of interesting notes about Sustainable Minds: First, Sustainable Minds’ life cycle impact assessment (LCA) methodology contains a next generation dataset based originally on the Okala 2007 impact factors, a module in the Okala curriculum guide. The guide was developed under the auspices of IDSA, through financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Design for the Environment Program, Eastman Chemical Company and the Whirlpool Corporation. If you’d like to get more information and download the 2010 edition, you can find it here.

Second, for those of you who are IDSA members (including educators and students), you can get a discount on a SM subscription. More information, with the discount codes, can be found here.

So what do you think? Does it seem viable and valuable to you as a designer? I’m watching how this and other tool like it are being adopted by the design community.

[Sustainable Minds case study (full text)]


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