Eco-design Guidelines

An ongoing research has investigated the relationship between sustainability-oriented endeavors and corresponding designs’ success, appreciation and perceived value. This has led to the deduction and formulation of some recommendations, which are listed below from 1 to 10 with some examples and are indicated as “Eco-design guidelines”. In the developers’ intentions, these guidelines should be used as additional indications to be leveraged in design in order to develop products/services that are not only environmental-friendly, but also show enhanced success chances.

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  1. In eco-design, prioritize the optimization of the product lifecycle. Indeed, the understanding of the product scenario clarifies the design process that follows and drives towards acceptable solutions. Before implementing any strategy, you should:
    1. Consider every possible scenario that contextualizes the solution in a Circular Economy or Product-Service System context.
    2. Include functionalities in the same solution delivering additional value. To the scope, it is worth considering the functions of similar systems (TV broadcasts and the Internet), surrounding systems (the computer and the monitor) and systems performing opposite functions (the pencil and the eraser).
    3. Evaluate different Fields and Behaviors (mechanical, electric, magnetic, etc.) through which the function(s) can be performed.
  2. Before trying to make a product more reliable through modular architectures (providing the possibility to replace components that will be damaged) or through integral architectures (reducing the number of components that can be damaged), explore different physical functioning principles, e.g. iPod, electrical thermometer.
  3. Solutions exploiting new behaviors, fields or working principles are always perceived innovative but not sufficiently mature to be adopted. Understand what (structural, aesthetic, perceptual) features characterize traditional products and reproduce/copy them in the new solutions in order to increase the perception of familiarity, e.g. Samsung developed an induction cooker with LED flames.
  4. Develop self-repairing products or products that do not require maintenance at all. If the solution has to foresee repairing and/or maintaining during its life, introduce services that minimize the customer’s involvement, e.g. airless tires, self-cleaning glasses, pay-per-drive.
  5. When you change the product’s substance (solid, liquid, gas) to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging or transportation, stress the reason beyond this kind of solution and try to promote new benefits from this radical change in order to capture specific market sectors, e.g. Lush solid shampoo.
  6. Avoid solutions that jeopardize the speed of delivery of the product to the customer and the safety during transport/distribution. When possible, use and distribute local products or components.
  7. Do not limit your product’s competitive advantage to a marginal improvement in terms of energy efficiency or material consumption, e.g. Tesla cars, LED light bulbs, digital cameras.
  8. Evaluate the chance of reducing resources toxicity and harmfulness, especially if consumers consider the product’s material and behavior as such. In any case, avoid increasing toxicity and harmfulness, although these are counterbalanced by different lifecycle advantages, e.g. edible pens, wooden cutlery.
  9. Do not neglect the quality-price ratio when you aim to resources’ renewability and biocompatibility, e.g. Winni’s detergents.
  10. Implement actions that improve (the perception of) environmental sustainability during the use phase irrespective of the most critical product lifecycle stage, e.g. save energy mode in smartphones.

For more information, feel free to contact Lorenzo Maccioni ( or Yuri Borgianni ( from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano.

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