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Encouraging Sustainable Design

March 8, 2008
Online calculator assesses products' carbon footprints.

A necessary first step toward reducing your product's carbon footprint is to actually know its carbon footprint. Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC) has launched a free online service to help manufacturers assess their products' carbon footprints within minutes. The firm hopes the service may lead manufacturers toward developing greener products in the design stage.

Called the LCA Calculator, the service is available at The service provides a complete lifecycle assessment of products based on a comprehensive list of questions. Among the issues addressed by the calculator are the materials used; the amount of energy consumed to produce the product; transport methods and distances; manufacturing processes used; and the methods of disposal.

IDC says the calculator was devised following the results of a survey of designers and engineers working in new product development. Some 50% of the companies interviewed say a product's environmental impact is not a major design consideration. Some 82% believe it will become one.

"As a design consultancy, our job is to help companies develop better products. We're aware that many companies don't know where to start when it comes to assessing the environmental impact of their products," says Stephen Knowles, IDC managing director. "The LCA calculator will enable companies to understand the environmental impact of design decisions and is a first step toward putting sustainable design at the heart of the development process."

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