Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Strategies

Hot stuff from ICFF 2011

By Sustainable Minds on May 31, 2011

Reposted from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt blog.

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair is a fun place to visit each year for new trends and ideas in commercial design.

Sustainability was a hot theme in the school projects represented at the ICFF: ICFF School

One project in particular highlights a rising trend in product design and marketing. The product-design program of the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts challenged students to develop a piece of furniture out of a single sheet of plywood. While the brief was interesting enough, flat-pack design is not new. The important twist here was a lifecycle analysis (LCA) of each design, comparing the furniture on various metrics such as materials, fasteners, glues, and shipping volume, using software by Sustainable Minds. It was fascinating to see how each design had greater or fewer impacts based on decisions such as having a flat or a curved seat. What if every product in this year’s ICFF had undergone the same LCA?

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Available now – SM Release 2.0 is all about data!

By Sustainable Minds on April 26, 2011

Sustainable Minds enables product development teams to rapidly model the environmental performance of new product concepts in the earliest stages of design. Key to this process is to have access to a broad and deep set of current life cycle environmental impact data. Science improves and so does the data. Sustainable Minds’ SaaS delivery means data can continually be updated and new data added so product teams have what they need, when they need it.

1. Introducing the SM2011 Methodology – The science inside our software
2. Custom impact factor creation service
3. Sustainable Minds Private SaaS – for custom and proprietary datasets

New in SM r2.0:

fredsparks improves sales, sustainability, AND lowers costs

By Guest contributors on March 30, 2011

Guest contributor Ken Harris is one of the owners of fredsparks, a design consultancy that focuses on strategy, innovation and sustainability for its clients. Its use of Sustainable Minds regularly, helps them provide product and package solutions that speak to all of those business capabilities.

Challenge
Having learned after a few years of working with fredsparks to not be surprised at getting much more than expected, Schutt Sports presented the company with another challenge that brought out all three areas of success that fredsparks typically provides its clients: 1. Strategy, 2. Innovation, and 3. Sustainability.

Sustainable Minds and Eco Innovators Partner to Advance Greener Product Design for Australian Manufacturers

By Sustainable Minds on March 16, 2011

Sustainable Minds today announced a partnership with Melbourne-based environmental consultancy, Eco Innovators to bring Sustainable Minds Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software to Australian product manufacturers, designers, educational institutes and sustainability consultancies to meet the growing demand for product environmental performance information.

With the impending tax on carbon and the increased authority of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to prosecute false environmental claims, Australian manufacturers are looking to credibly measure and manage the environmental performance of their products.

Director of Eco Innovators, Leyla Acaroglu, recent Melbourne Design Award recipient, was responsible for the development of one of the first simplified online LCA tools – Greenfly. “I have had a great deal of experience with designing tools and resources to assist designers in integrating sustainability into product development, and for me, Sustainable Minds LCA software is the best on the market for supporting designers, manufacturers and product developers in understanding and reducing the life cycle impacts of their products.”

Will Sustainability Usher In the Next “Golden Era of Design?”

By Guest contributors on March 14, 2011

Guest contributor Amy Rowell is the founder and principal analyst at Four Winds Research, an independent market research and analysis firm dedicated to sustainable product design and manufacturing. Four Winds’ research efforts are focused on identifying the key issues and challenges facing designers and engineers today as they attempt to create sustainable products; understanding how organizations can effectively apply sustainability principles in product design and development both internally and across the supply chain; and the critical role that sustainability metrics, tools, and technologies promise to play in product design and manufacturing in the coming decade. Amy also authors a blog on this topic, Sustainable Product Design Tools and Strategies.

Webcast #4: MCAD Smackdown! Going head to head: direct vs. parametric modeling (Replay)

By Sustainable Minds on February 28, 2011

Originally recorded on February 24, 2011, some of the mechanical CAD industry's most knowledgeable (and opinionated) voices assembled to debate one of today's existential technology questions: When, why and how do you use direct and/or parametric modeling to best support your business? And, is there too much emphasis on the tools and not enough on the resulting design, i.e., is it difficult and expensive to manufacture, service, repair, use, transport and recycle or reuse?

Moderated by Cadalyst contributing editor and CAD guru Bill Fane, an all-star panel began to cut through the marketing hype to deliver some practical, expert insight about these two very different approaches to 3D modeling. Attendees posed their own questions to the panel throughout the discussion. The panel includes avid users and proponents as well as creators of the technologies:

Consensus from Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010 conference

By Sustainable Minds on January 27, 2011

sustainableplasticspackaging.com

Designers see total package
Designing a package to be sustainable and making one that consumers view as sustainable aren’t necessarily the same. “Why we buy things and why we make things are often completely opposite,” said Mark Dziersk, vice president of industrial design in Chicago for global brand design firm Brandimage-Desgrippes & Laga.

“Ninety-five percent of what we work on [in design] is based on a rational process. But why consumers buy things is exactly the opposite” with emotions often accounting for 95 percent of the decision. “All that speaks to the importance of the front-end of the process,” Dziersk said at the Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010 conference in Atlanta.

At Yakima, lifecycle thinking generates products that not only reduce carbon footprint but also drive innovation and save money.

By Sustainable Minds on January 18, 2011

This article was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Cadalyst magazine.

Forget about doing the right thing, giving back, and corporate conscience. Today, companies in increasing numbers are pursuing sustainable product design because, plain and simple, it makes good business sense. Environmental performance is the newest criteria for product development — and it's driving innovation and boosting profits.

An approach known as lifecycle assessment, or LCA, is key to realizing these bottom-line benefits, and it's catching on. LCA models the complex interaction between a product and the environment, from cradle to grave. When used in early-stage design, it brings sustainability considerations into product development by taking a comprehensive view of a product's potential lifecycle impacts on the environment in an effort to reduce those impacts (including carbon footprint), as well as overall costs. In short, it supports what is known as the double bottom line: planet and profits.

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Bresslergroup builds a better mousetrap and sustainability wins

By Guest contributors on December 17, 2010

Guest contributor Mathieu Turpault is Director of Design and Managing Partner of Bresslergroup. Based in Philadelphia, Bresslergroup offers innovative product solutions via integrated user research, industrial design and production engineering. The consultancy serves consumer, medical and industrial manufacturers. Founded in 1970, Bresslergroup has won more than 80 major design awards and has authored more than 125 patents. Bresslergroup was an early adopter of the Designers Accord and has hosted two Designers Accord sessions in Philadelphia. 

In redesigning existing products, we have found that incremental change when multiplied by hundreds of thousands of units can have a resoundingly positive environmental impact. Furthermore, when retailers and manufacturers work together to drive sustainability improvements, it creates a role for product design firms to put their create design and engineering talents to work. Sustainable Minds is a powerful tool we use to test hypothesis, evaluate and prove how a redesigned product can be more environmentally responsible.

Autodesk's Sustainability Workshop for engineering faculty and students

By Guest contributors on December 3, 2010

Guest contributor Jeremy Faludi (LEED AP) is a sustainable design strategist and researcher. He teaches green design at Stanford University, where he created the graduate/undergraduate class ME221: Green Design Tools and Metrics, and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

I recently had the pleasure of helping Autodesk develop some sustainable design tutorials. It's called the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, and is aimed at college engineering students and teachers. Along with Autodesk's fantastic Sustainability Initiative team members Dawn Danby and Adam Menter, and the video production wizards at Free Range Studios, we launched a set of five short videos on sustainable design theory that introduce essential concepts of sustainable design, such as whole systems thinking, life-cycle thinking, and lightweighting. The Autodesk folks also put together twenty tutorial videos on how to implement the concepts in Autodesk software, along with datasheets and other resources. More great content is in the works, on other topics.