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.