Product sustainability assessment in conceptualisation phase

DS 87-5 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 5: Design for X, Design to X, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Martinez, Victor Gerardo
Series: ICED
Institution: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
Section: Design for X, Design to X
Page(s): 061-069
ISBN: 978-1-904670-93-3
ISSN: 2220-4342


Along the design process many decisions and compromises are made in order to reach a final design solution. In literature is commonly accepted that tackling sustainability issues at early stages provides a better opportunity to make a positive contribution. Nevertheless, designers face a paradigm, how can they assess the sustainability of something that is not yet conceptualised? Another important constraint for addressing sustainability issues at early stages is that most tools supporting in this task are designed to assess once the product is defined; there is very little to no tools at all addressing the needs and culture of designers at early stages of design. This paper presents a series of test where designers were asked to follow a design process and given a novel “soft modelling” tool to assess concepts. The results show that designers’ primary reaction is to deny the assessment of something they have not defined yet. Nevertheless, if used, the tool was found that it is possible for them to reflect on the options and future decisions. This results show that the “soft modelling” approach if developed could provide important aid to designers at early stages.

Keywords: Ecodesign, New product development, Sustainability, Early stages of design, Soft modeling

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