June 27, 2009

LCA Software For The Concept Phase

Earlier this month I attended a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) workshop presented by the people at the website SustainableMinds.com. The main goal of the workshop was to familiarize the participants with their on-demand, web-based LCA software which integrates the science of Okala, an LCA methodology and educational guide, into a support software that enables product design teams to quickly create environmental life cycle assessments and rapid iteration of product concepts from the early stages in their design process.

This new LCA software will become such a powerful tool for product development teams. It will allow design teams to understand how even small design decisions can create large environmental problems in a product. The greatest innovation and benefit of this LCA software comes from when in the process it will be used. Most LCA software measures the environmental impacts of an already existing product, therefore, there is no way this product will become more sustainable. Whereas, SustainableMinds LCA software is used in the concept phase of the design process, before any final design is agreed upon or any manufacturing begins. This allows the design team time to assess their myriad of concepts to learn which aspects of the product create the most environmental problems and, with this knowledge, design true sustainable product innovation.