Lynelle Cameron on the Power of Sustainability Tools

Nature of Business Radio

Lynelle Cameron on the Power of Sustainability Tools

Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.

I spoke this week to Lynelle Cameron, Director of Sustainability at Autodesk. We had a great conversation about a number of topics, from the power of software to transform the depth and scope of the design space to how Autodesk strives to lead by example with its practices and software tools.

It is clear is that innovation is at the heart of Autodesk -- whose technology, by the way, affects most if not all of our lives: It is highly likely that the bridge you cross, the highway upon which you drive, and your clothes dryer use some kind of Autodesk software. And innovation ultimately makes them better.

Founded in 1982, Autodesk is a U.S. company that focuses on 3D design software for use in architecture, engineering and building construction, manufacturing, and media and entertainment (think Avatar).

Autodesk is perhaps best known for its flagship computer-aided design software, AutoCAD, but they also develop Building Information Modeling software to generate and manage building data using a three-dimensional building model. Autodesk also providesdigital media creation and management software from film and television visual effects, color grading, and editing to animation, game development, and design visualization.

I liked hearing Lynelle speak of the different vantage points she's gotten at various points throughout her career. Beginning at the non-profit level and later at Hewlett-Packard, she learned firsthand just how challenging it is to balance trade-offs in energy efficiency, materials, end of product life when designing something such as, for instance, computers or printers.

Her current vantage point from within Autodesk has proven particularly fun and satisfying for her in that it allows her the opportunity to provide for companies better software so that these companies have the tools to understand early on the design process the potential impact of their products.

As she puts it, "Many of the environmental issues we were trying to tackle, resource issues, (at HP) were actually failures of design. I began to realize there is an incredible opportunity to redesign what we are putting on the planet so we don't have the same problems that we are facing downstream and upstream."

Being the glutton for partnerships that I am, I was also excited to hear about Autodesk's strategic collaborations such as their partnership with a U.K. company called Granta Design. Granta possesses the world's largest material's database and Autodesk has the users. Pretty good marriage I would say. Another is their Clean Tech Partner Program.

Launched nearly two years ago in the U.S. and now spreading globally, these companies receive up to $150,000 of software for early stage development for a nominal $50 fee. Through such an offering, Autodesk software replaces what Lynelle refers to as these company's former "light design tools" and gets to the smartest entrepreneurs solving the most important pressing environmental issues of our time and getting to market faster. What's in it for Autodesk? Well, they glean a tremendous amount in the process from these game-changing companies.

On a parting note, Lynelle states, "I really believe people want to do the right thing. They want to make good decisions. But we need to give them the best design tools and educate them and that is certainly an incredibly rewarding part of the job." I would second that emotion.

George Papoulias edited this podcast.