Integrating LCA into Design
The 5 Key Steps for Integrating LCA into Design:
When developing PackageSmart, there were five issues that EarthShift felt were critical to the success of a simplified tool that could accurately integrate LCA into design.
Support the Creative Process
First, the tool should support a designer’s creative process. If someone tells a designer that the recycled PE is worse environmentally than the recycled HDPE, she wants to know why. And if she can’t get the answer, she feels lost. Therefore, PackageSmart allows users to dig back through the data and ask “why?”— because solving problems and creating new ideas requires understanding details.
Speak the Designer’s Language
The need to understand details means an LCA is not easy, and it typically requires a lot of training. A tool for non-LCA experts should thus simplify, but also integrate, an LCA practitioners’ knowledge. Most LCA tools on the market today are not user-friendly, and the terminology they use is very technical. That's why we built PackageSmart to be a tool that speaks “LCA” in a designer’s language.
Involve LCA from the Beginning
For the past 10 years, EarthShift has been training in-house LCA teams. In that time, we have learned that much of the real change occurs at the beginning stages of design, where the creative process begins. Plus, as a product goes from ideation, concept design, prototype, detailed design, pre-production and finally production, the environmental impacts get locked in. Making changes to a design gets more expensive and time-consuming the later in the process it occurs. That's why we designed a tool that aids in making environmental decisions early.
Ensure Flexibility, and Scale
With the designer beginning the LCA early in their design process, it creates leverage, because design freedom is still high and the cost of change is still low. We also needed a way to make sure that the LCA methodology was applied consistently and accurately throughout the company. And we needed to leverage the iterative nature of product development and LCA to make sure designers and LCA practitioners stay on the same page.
We have created the only tool on the market where a declared manager can choose her own Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and her own Life Cycle Impact Assessment Method (LCIA), thus keeping consistency across the company. By doing this, we have created a simplified tool that can grow with the knowledge base of your company.
PackageSmart is a tool that expert LCA consultants or internal gurus alike can feed knowledge and methodological choices into. When the final product goes into production, the LCA is nearly done - and done correctly.
"I was not experienced in LCAs before PackageSmart, yet I was creating full cradle to grave models in the first week." Dan Robinette, Director of Sustainability, The Robinette Company