Green design gets a little easier

By Matthew

I remember Kermit the Frog once sang “it’s not easy being green.” I think a lot of designers would agree. Many would like to be more environmentally conscious, but they’re still under pressure to reduce the cost of materials and speed up design times. The bottom line usually wins over being eco-friendly.

At SolidWorks World 2009, we announced a new product we’ve been working on that was going by the code name “Sage.” It’s a tool that integrates seamlessly into SolidWorks that allows designers to see just how eco-friendly the products they’re designing are.

We’re happy to announce that this new product, officially named SolidWorks Sustainability, is now available in beta form from the SolidWorks Labs website. This is the SustainabilityXpress version that will be included with every version of SolidWorks starting with the release of SolidWorks 2010. SolidWorks Sustainability was designed in collaboration with PE International, and leverages their GaBi database

SolidWorks Sustainability allows the designer to submit data about materials, place of manufacture, and a few other variables to set a baseline for environmental impact. You can then change the materials, country, and so on to see how it changes the impact. Specifically, Sustainability measures:

  • Carbon footprint
  • Total energy consumed during manufacture
  • Effect on air quality, specifically regarding acid rain
  • Effect on water quality, specifically regarding algae blooms in coastal waters

The data updates automatically as you change your designs. The “Find Similar” tool even lets you search the built-in material database for close alternatives to the material you have specified, so you don’t have to waste time scrolling through menus. Even if you’re not interested in sustainable design, this could come in handy. And when you’re done, the system generates a report that you can print out, or send to colleagues.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit the SolidWorks Labs site to download the beta version. And finally, here’s a quick video I shot with SolidWorks’ Director of Product Innovation Rick Chin, showing off the program. Enjoy!




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One response to “Green design gets a little easier”

  1. Valerie says:

    Great product!

    Although I was wondering if this apps also includes economic consideration. As Matthew mentioned designers and companies are driven by profit. Even though they are taking environmental issues into consideration, the decision on the material to use and the manufacture region will be driven if not only by the cost, at least by the better balance between cost and environmental impact.

    Designers have to find the right equation between reducing the environmental impact, while not increasing the cost too much.

    Valerie

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