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

Supply chain

Farm designs greener medical devices

By Guest contributors on August 30, 2010

This post was submitted by guest contributor, Jim Rudolph, Industrial Designer at Farm in Hollis, New Hampshire. Farm recently announced their sustainable product development services.

Sustainability is part of good design. It is a natural extension of the traditional product development goals of efficiency and quality. Sustainable design strategies that lead to streamlined production, optimized materials usage, minimized weight, and reduced waste are all real opportunities for competitive and economic advantage for our clients.

Throughout Farm’s product development process, concepts are evaluated for attributes including usability, aesthetics, cost and manufacturability. Sustainable Minds LCA enables us to easily ‘prototype’ a concept’s life cycle impact and integrate environmental performance into our evaluation criteria as well. The software’s flexibility enables our project teams to make informed estimates about environmental impact very early in the development process while concepts are still evolving.

Greener Decisions

By Sustainable Minds on August 23, 2010

Originally posted on Modern Edge.

Environmentally sustainable design is at a crossroads. The insight and emotion that drove the passionate early adopters is giving way to data-driven decision making. New software tools and design methodologies are gaining traction and the result is a new level of innovation. But there’s still work to do for greener design methodologies to go mainstream. This is the take away from the dialogue on Thursday August 5th, at the Sustainable Minds and Modern Edge design reception at the Modern Edge Studio in PDX. Three main areas of discussion arose:

Credible Greener Decisions:
The question has changed from “How will we save the world?” to “How can we make credible decisions and substantiate progress?” It’s about putting credibility into the process of creating greener design. “Data is the common language; with good data multi-disciplinary teams can quickly come to consensus on the right steps to greener design.” It’s about changing emotion into rational action.

Designers Sailing to Sustainability

By Sustainable Minds on August 16, 2010

Originally posted on Modern Edge. This reception was held by Modern Edge and Sustainable Minds, Aug. 5, 2010, in Portland, OR.

50-60 Designers, Technologists and Educators from companies and organizations such as Nike, Motorola, Eastman, Yakima, Art Center, Children’s Hospital, University of Notre Dame, Ziba, Teams Design, and others, enjoy the patio at the Modern Edge Studio during a dialogue on improving sustainable design – hosted by Sustainable Minds and Modern Edge Inc. 25 of the first attendees to register arrived by sailboat from downtown Portland. We’ll be sharing the outcome from the dialogue in future blog posts.

See more pictures from event >

Sustainability signs are promising

By Sandy Skees on July 26, 2010

These days, the talk of a double dip recession and the lagging job market could obscure several positive indicators that provide good evidence that a significant and lasting change is underway.

Pay attention to the more important transformation that is affecting product development, business formation, job creation and the very way we live and work. In any number of areas, you’ll find upbeat indicators where you might expect to find a downbeat story:

Social Capital
A month after the Sustainable Brands 2010 conference in Monterey, CA, it's worth noting that many of the presenting and attending companies are truly integrating social impact into their sustainability efforts. 

For example, environment and ‘green’ issues, which have dominated sustainability discussions in the past, have given way to more practical explorations of new strategy, measurement, metrics and marketing initiatives. This has moved social programs from the periphery to the core.

Building A Sustainable Company — Part II

By Vijay Kanal on June 21, 2010

I began my last blog with a promise to explore some of the first steps companies new to sustainability should consider. I ended it by promising to explore some of the important frameworks companies should include in a more rigorous approach to sustainability. This is more than just a theoretical approach; we engage in these frameworks with our clients to help them achieve their sustainability goals.

Opportunity Assessment
Where exactly is your company on the sustainability curve? That’s a big question, and we work to break it down by functional department within the company. The objective is to prioritize the strategies and actions that will have the greatest impact today, tomorrow and long term. How much it will cost is an important assessment, both from an investment perspective, as well as a holistic (i.e. not just financial) approach to ROI.

Deepwater Horizon: the Cost of Greenality

By EarthPM on June 1, 2010

A welcome: the authors of the blog below – Rich Maltzman and Dave Shirley – are respected project management experts and have recently released a book about green project management. Sustainable Minds is proud to add these well-respected experts and educators to our roster of blog contributors. We look forward to their unique perspective as project managers, and will be picking up relevant posts from their illuminating website.

In our book we talk about the Cost of Greenality.

Sustainable Minds release 1.3 – Unit conversions

By Sustainable Minds on May 19, 2010

Release 1.3 of Sustainable Minds allows you to enter data in the units your BOM or project uses and includes a broad range of both metric and imperial units. For example, 0.25 kg of aluminum can now be entered as 0.25 kg, 250 g, or 0.00027558 short tons. Sustainable Minds then converts the measurements to a common unit to deliver the impact assessment results.

Unit conversion is available for the manufacturing, use, and transportation stages of the product’s lifecycle, for both manual part and sub-assembly entry and BOM import.

The power of a stamp

By David Laituri on May 4, 2010

I attended a sustainability conference recently in which the main speaker, a seasoned LCA engineer, gave an overview of the LCA process, using range of products as examples. During his overview, he pointed out the stark differences between the big-impact elements and the small ones and suggested, in so many words, that an impact really must be big enough to be worth any effort in an LCA-driven impact reduction exercise.

That’s where he lost me.

This emphasis on big impact elements may make sense on paper - but what happens when all of those small, ‘insignificant’ impact elements on a lifecycle BOM from literally millions of products gang up in one place at one time? A good example is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Another is from Lake Erie where I grew up, pictured in the photo above. CO2, lead, Mercury and DDT also come to mind – small and seemingly insignificant at their original point of use, nasty once they reconvene elsewhere. Over time, and displaced from their original LCA, insignificant elements can accumulate into a much larger problem.

Building A Sustainable Company — Part I

By Vijay Kanal on April 20, 2010

Clients who are new to building sustainability in their organizations often ask what their first steps should be. Recognizing that every company has a different set of business goals, hierarchy and culture, we recommend a valuable first step: start by measuring all things related to carbon emission, energy and resource consumption, and waste.

Even if it's not a precise measurement, a quantified approximation will establish a baseline against which all of your future efforts can be compared. Then, we recommend that you look across your industry and even beyond, to see what leading companies have achieved in lowering their environmental footprint. Based on this external benchmarking, you can begin to set goals and prioritize your own sustainability initiatives.

This prioritization must include input from, and assessment of the impact on different stakeholders, including customers, employees and investors. Draw up a Materiality Matrix that shows the relationship between impact on stakeholders and the impact on the company. This matrix can form the basis of setting the company’s strategy on sustainability.

The Car, 2.0

By Sandy Skees on April 5, 2010

Is the world ready for a new generation of cars, particularly the electric kind? There are at least 41 teams hard at work, and competing, on the assumption that the world is not just ready, but that it’s in desperate need for Car 2.0.

Energy and transportation analysts as well as green media sites like Earth2Tech have begun using the Car 2.0 moniker and predicting a sizable market opportunity. The new electric car infrastructure has implications beyond reducing the highly toxic impact that current fossil fuel transportation has on the environment. Electric cars will link to the smart grid, making them efficient and connected communicating transportation.