Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC), the product development firm, has launched a software package called LCA Calculator, which helps designers and engineers understand, analyse and compare the environmental impacts of products and their design decisions.
The LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) Calculator analyses the effects that a product or service has on the environment over its lifetime. The analysis covers the extraction and processing of raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, marketing processes, use, maintenance, re-use and eventual recycling or disposal.
The software means designs can be adjusted to answer 'what if' questions until they achieve the optimum specification. Given the time and cost, this is an exercise that, in the past, has often only been done after the design decisions have been finalised. Stephen Knowles, Managing Director of IDC, said, "The LCA Calculator will enable companies to understand the environmental impact of design decisions and is a first step towards putting sustainable design at the heart of the development process."
The software was first trialled by IDC three years ago and customised versions are already in use by some large UK manufacturers. It’s available in three versions: Pro, Business and Corporate Bespoke - the Pro version is suited to individual usage while the Business and Corporate version allows design teams to share and analyse data. Full details at www.lcacalculator.com.
We commented earlier in the year on a report from Verdantix that identified 18 companies that offer product lifecycle analysis software. Lots of money has been poured into the market, although as yet demand has been patchy. According to Verdantix, demand will pick up in 2012 due to a growing focus on green procurement, new regulations that require reporting of Scope 3 emissions and evidence of business value delivered by LCA projects. Europe leads the world in setting standards for product sustainability with regulations such as the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) and the French government’s Bilan Carbone which requires Scope 3 emissions data reporting by the end of 2012.