Tool Provides Quick Access to Design for Environment Advice

Tool Provides Quick Access to Design for Environment Advice

Writing on whiteboard - CC license by Flickr user kowitz

The Center for Resilience at the Ohio State University has created an online tool to provide quick and easy access to Design for Environment (DfE) guidelines and case studies. DfE is the concept of designing products and processes with a full understanding of their life cycle impacts on humans and the environment.

The DFE Advisor's browsing function lists the four main categories of DfE guidelines, and clicking on any brings down sub-categories, which contain specific topics and examples of how those guidelines have been implemented by companies like General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Herman Miller and Toyota.

The "Ask The Expert" function lets a user choose a general product and process type, select the life cycle stages they're interested in and then specify which types of impacts they are focusing on, and the DFE Advisor shows which guidelines are applicable.

The tool is based on the lessons from "Design for Environment: A Guide to Sustainable Product Development," a book by Joseph Fiksel, who is also the executive director of the Center for Resilience.

The four categories of DfE guidelines are design for dematerialization (minimizing materials, using recycled content, substituting services for products), design for detoxification (replacing toxic and hazardous materials, reducing wastes and emissions), design for revalorization (recovering value from materials and resources through refurbishing, disassembly and material separation, recycling and reuse), and design for capital protection and renewal (assuring the availability of human, natural and social capital like human health and safety, natural resources, ecosystems and trust).

Writing on whiteboard - CC license by Flickr user kowitz