As the world is facing ever-increasing environmental challenges, it is becoming more and more important to adopt sustainable practices in all aspects of our lives. In this context, eco-design has emerged as an essential concept, aiming to design products and services that minimize their environmental impact while maintaining, and very often improving, their functionality and profitability.
Eco-design requires new knowledge and know-how, as well as new specialized and collaborative solutions, such as democratizing lifecycle assessment (LCA), which in turn demand upskilling the workforce.
What is eco-design?
Eco-design is a design approach, or mindset, that aims to create products and services that consider the entire product life cycle, from raw materials and manufacturing to distribution, use, and end-of-life management. It focuses on reducing waste, energy consumed, and pollution, while increasing resource efficiency, recyclability, maintenance and durability.
Eco-design is not only a matter of ethical and environmental responsibility; it also presents numerous business benefits. Eco-designed products and services reduce production costs, increase resource efficiency, and improve brand reputation and customer loyalty. Eco-design also creates new market opportunities, especially in the growing green economy, and can even be the catalyst for new business models.
Upskilling the workforce for eco-design
Eco-design requires a new set of skills and knowledge, which are not traditionally part of skillsets of designers and engineers. To design products and services that respect the environment, designers and engineers need to have access to lifecycle impact assessment databases and methods, materials science, use low-carbon energy in their processes, and strive towards zero waste. They also need to have a good understanding of eco-design standards and regulations. Having access to specialized software solutions is significantly invaluable for designers and engineers due to the sophisticated nature of this transformation.
To acquire these skills and knowledge, upskilling the workforce is essential. Upskilling involves providing training and development opportunities to employees, allowing them to learn new skills and update their knowledge to meet changing business needs. Upskilling the workforce for eco-design requires a collaborative approach, involving multiple stakeholders from different areas of expertise. The collaborative approach also involves engaging with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the products and services meet their needs and expectations.
How do you support an eco-design approach?
Once your workforce has the right knowledge and know-how, the next step is equipping your team with the right tools to support eco-design practices.
They’ll require specialized solutions ranging from software apps for lifecycle assessment and material selection to consulting services for sustainability strategy development and implementation. Such solutions help companies understand the environmental impact of their products and services and develop strategies to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability performance. LCA, in particular, is a vital pillar of eco-design, as it accounts for the environmental impacts of a product throughout its entire lifecycle – including what happens after a product’s useful life has ended.
One example of a specialized solution for eco-design is the 3DEXPERIENCE platform by Dassault Systèmes. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a cloud-based collaborative platform that provides a comprehensive set of tools for design, engineering, simulation, and manufacturing. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform includes specialized modules for sustainability and lifecycle assessment, enabling designers and engineers to evaluate the environmental impact of their products and services and make informed decisions. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform also includes collaborative features that enable stakeholders from different areas of expertise to work together, promoting a collaborative and cross-functional approach to eco-design.
Eco-design requires upskilling the workforce with new knowledge, know-how, and specialized solutions. Eco-design requires a collaborative approach, involving multiple stakeholders from different areas of expertise, to create sustainable products and services. Specialized solutions, such as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, support eco-design practices by providing comprehensive tools for sustainability and life cycle assessment.
With those pieces in place, companies will be well positioned to upskill for eco-design and create a more sustainable future.