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Ecodesign - ecological design

The Ecodesign is the methodology of the industrial products design, taking into account the environment during the process of development of the product, like an additional factor to those that traditionally are used for taking decisions: aesthetic design, cost, quality etc.

Goals of the Ecodesign

The goal of the ecodesing is double. On one hand consist on reducing the environmental impact of the product during their cycle of life. On the other hand, getting a benefit in return for the involved stakeholders and the final user of the product.

Why to apply the Ecodesing?

The factors for the application of the ecodesing in the definition phase and design of the product can be different:

External reasons

  • To fulfil the current and future legislation
  • To give answer to the market and the demand of customerss
  • To improve the image of the company
  • To obtain a competitive advantage to be ahead to the competition

Internal reasons

  • To increase the quality of the product
  • To improve a productive process
  • To obtain a reduction of costs
  • To increase the power of innovation of the company

Methodologies of Ecodesing

The projects of Ecodesing require an organizational vision where all the actors of the project collaborate and carry out their work simultaneously.

This focus needs of some specifics tools and a special phase of planning designed for such aim. Next, the phases that compose two of the ecodesing methodologies more used are presented:

PILOT methodology (original source)

Ecodesign The phases of the PILOT metodology.

Table 1: Phases of the PILOT methodology
1. Selection of the product
  • Which product will be selected.
  • The main product of the company or the one which has the biggest environmental impact.
  • The redesign of the product or the design of a new one.
2. Training the team
  • A Multidisciplinary group of professionals.
  • Environmental consultant.
  • Mediator.
3. Definition of the project
  • Reasons of the project.
  • Objectives.
  • Periods of time.
  • Responsible.
  • Budgets.
4. Preparation of the project
  • Collection of the product, team, mark of the project…
4.1. Thinking of the Cycle of Life
  • Definition of the phases of the product.
  • Analysis of the inputs and outputs of the system.
  • Valuation of the environmental impacts of the product.
4.2. Selection of strategies and measures
  • Identification of the areas of improvement.
  • Identificación of the appropriate strategies for the project.
4.3. Implementation of the development of the product
  • Identify environmental aspects to improve.
  • Search of applicable solutions to the product.
  • To define the solution in detail.
4.4. Coordination of the environmental administration
  • To establish the strategies and measures.
  • To integrate environmental objectives of product in System of Environmental Administration.
  • To make pursuit of the objectives.

PROMISE Methodology

Table 2: Phases of PROMISE methodology. Methodology created in the 1994 by the Technological University of Delft that was taken as base for the manual of Ecodesing of the UNEP in 1997 (ECODESIGN: to promising approach to sustainable production and consumption).
1. Organization of the project of Ecodesing
  • To Get the approval of the Address.
  • To establish a work team.
  • To trace plans and to prepare the budget.
2. Selection of the product
  • To Establish the selection approaches.
  • To decide.
  • To define the design report.
3. Establishment of the strategy of Ecodesign
  • To analyze the environmental profile of the product.
  • To analyze the internal and external strong points.
  • To generate options of improvement.
  • To study their viability.
  • To define the ecodesing strategy.
4. Generation and selection of ideas
  • To generate new ideas of products.
  • To organize an ecodesing workshop.
  • To select the most interesting ideas.
5. Details of the concept
  • To transform in fact the ecodesing strategies.
  • To study the viability of the concepts.
  • To select the most interesting development.
6. Communication and launching the product
  • To promote the new design internally.
  • To develop a promotion plan.
  • To prepare the production.
7. Establishment of pursuit activities
  • To evaluate the resulting product.
  • To evaluate the results of the project.
  • To develop a program of Ecodesing.

Methodology created in the 1994 by the Technological University of Delft that was taken as base for the manual of Ecodesing of the UNEP in 1997 (ECODESIGN: to promising approach to sustainable production and consumption).

Ecodesign strategies

The LIDS wheel

Based on the LiDS Wheel, the different strategies are classified in the following groups:

  1. Selection of materials of low impact.
  2. Reduction of the quantity of used material.
  3. Selection of environmentally efficient production techniques.
  4. Selection of environmentally efficient distribution techniques.
  5. Reduction of the environmental impact in the use stage.
  6. Optimization of the Cycle of Life.
  7. Optimization of the End of Life phase.
  8. To optimize the function (new product ideas).
LIDS Wheel
Table 3: The LiDS Wheel, Van Hemel – 1995.
Phases of ecodesign for the LiDS Wheel

Strategies of PILOT

Similar to the LiDS Wheel, PILOT proposes specific strategies for each phase of the life cycle of the product. For that, first of all it is necessary to analyze in which phases the most important negative impacts take place.

Once carried out this analysis, the product is classified according to the following skills:

  • Type A: Intensive raw material
  • Type B: Intensive production
  • Type C: Intensive transportation
  • Type D: Intensive use
  • Type E: Intensive disposition

For example, a washer is a “type D” product. It produces its biggest negative impact during the phase of USE of the product. PILOT will offer specific strategies to reduce the consumption centred mainly in its use phase.

Levels of Ecodesing

Although the ecodesing is able to innovate the systems or the products of a company radically, it can also propose simpler solutions, with short term results.

Depending on the target establish by the company, four levels of application of the ecodesing can be distinguished, and therefore four types of different results:

  • Level 1 - Improves of the product: progressive and incremental improvement.
  • Level 2 – Redraw/redesign of the product: New product on the base of other existent.
  • Level 3 - New product in concept and definition: Radical innovation of the product.
  • Level 4 - Definition of a new system. Radical innovation of the system.

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