Le 28 regole della sostenibilità

22 March 2011

Un paio di anni fa ho scritto per BestUP ” Are you sure of not being sustainable? Vademecum di autovalutazione per designer e imprenditori del settore mobile-arredo”, che era stato presentato alla Settimana del Design a Milano. Me la ricordo come una bella esperienza. Mi è capitato di trovare il vademecum appeso al muro in qualche studio di designer, e mi ha fatto piacere, non lo nego. Lo presentavo così: “l’intenzione non è quella di fornire una lista di istruzioni per comprimere e limitare, ma al contrario offrire un manuale ragionato di buon senso, idee e informazioni pratiche che aiutino a liberare la creatività sostenibile”. 18 punti che riguardano il livello aziendale e quello di prodotto, uno orizzontale, l’altro verticale, uno concentrato sugli aspetti più ampi della gestione interna, uno orientato alla sostenibilità lungo l’intera catena di fornitura. Lo riguardo a due anni di distanza e mi piace ancora.

Ho trovato recentemente un altro vademecum incentrato, in questo caso, sull’ecodesign, quindi sul prodotto. E’ di PRé, azienda produttrice del software LCA SimaPro. Riassume alcuni principi sempre validi del life cycle thinking. Eccolo nella versione originale:

10 guidelines for ecodesign

  • Do not design products, but life cycles

Think about all material inputs and energy use of a product during its whole life cycle. From cradle to grave, or even better from cradle to cradle! A simple way to document your findings is the MET matrix (Materials, Energy, Toxicity). Just write down some of the most important facts in a matrix.

  • Natural materials are not always better

Of course, the production of 1 kg of wood causes less emissions than the production of 1 kg of plastic. But have you thought about the paint to preserve the wood, the energy needed to dry, the sawing losses? Environmentally sound materials do not exist, but environmentally friendly products and services do. Life cycle thinking helps a designer to develop these.

  • Energy consumption: often underestimated

Many designers focus their attention on material selection. This is not always justified. People normally underestimate the environmental impacts of energy as you cannot hold electricity or gas in your hands.

  • Increase product life time

You can influence the product life time in several ways. Make it more durable from a technical point of view, or by making it upgradeable (allowing to place the latest chip in a computer or washing machine).
More importantly, try to design the product in such a way people will feel attached to it. Many products are not thrown away because they are broken, but because owners got bored with them.

  • Do not design products, but services

People do not always want a product. They want a solution for a certain problem. A service rather than a product can be the right solution.

  • Use a minimum of material

Often you can reduce the amount of material by critically looking at dimensions, required strength and production techniques. It can even be beneficial to use materials that have a high environmental load per kilogram, if you can save weight. This is particularly true in transport, where less weight means less fuel consumption.

  • Use recycled materials

Do not only make your product recyclable, but use recycled materials as much as possible.If there is a demand for recycled materials the supply will follow certainly.

  • Make your product recyclable

Only products that are disassembled easily and have a high enough yield will be chosen for recycling.
You can increase the chance that the product is recycled, by optimizing its design.

  • Ask stupid questions

Very often decisions are based on common practice: “We have always done it this way and it has always worked well”. You can make huge improvements in the environmental performance of products, with consequential cost savings, by simply asking the very obvious “Why?”.

  • Become an O2 member!

The guidelines above can easily help you to reduce the environmental burdens of a product by 30 to 50%. Real progress however can only be made if you are truly imaginative and think the unthinkable. A group of designers

Categorie: Life Cycle Thinking