Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ecodesign tools

Since 1998, when I first started my PhD studies I have been very interested in how to get designers to think about ecodesign. This has led to me spending a lot of time thinking about ecodesign tools and how to make them suitable for designers. In the late 90s and early 00s there were a number of ecodesign tools available, but many of them were very technical - and not especially suited to industrial designers.

My PhD studies with Electrolux led to the development of http://www.informationinspiration.org.uk/ (see image of version 4.0 below) which was the first ecodesign tool specifically designed to meet the needs of designers. It pulled together inspiring ecodesign case studies which help to show designers, what's out there and that ecodesign is possible and happening - and useful, design focused ecodesign information. The site, is constantly under development and I am always keen for new suggestions on content - so if you have any ideas, please let me know.

In 2000, along with my collegue Dr Tracy Bhamra, we developed the Ecodesign Web (see below) from the LiDS wheel (orignially developed by Caroline van Hemel and Hans Brezet at TU Delft). The LiDS wheel, though brilliant at the time, required quite a lot of explanation and focused on a few areas which weren't so appropriate to designers. The Ecodesign web aimed to be a simplified version of the LiDS wheel and has proven to be very useful with people of all ages - school children (through the Sustainable Design awards) through to university students (at Cranfield and Loughborough) and practicing designers at Electrolux, Huntleigh Technology and DCA.

Other tools which we often use at Loughborough and beyond are the Design Abacus, which was developed from work carried out by Shot in the Dark, and the Eco Indicator 99, developed by Pre Consultants.

I hope to publish an article shortly on the relative benfits and shortcomings of these tools, when applied within the design process.

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