This morning, San Rafael, CA-based Autodesk, Inc. announced a partnership with UK-based Granta Design Ltd. Granta Design maintains an extensive database on material information technology. Granta’s software has been used mostly by goliath manufacturing and engineering companies for material selection, substitution and cost optimization in order to design in the context of environmental objectives and regulations. The partnership with Autodesk allows this database to be used by hundreds of thousands of designers who already use Autodesk’s 3D design software, so that they can choose the most sustainable and healthy material inputs possible.
How big is this? In a word, HUGE. This morning at the GreenBiz Innovation Forum, I interviewed Sarah Krasley, Industry Manager–Sustainability at Autodesk. According to industry reports, nearly 80% of a product’s environmental footprint is determined during the design phase. In essence, someone designing a new surfboard looks at the options for what goes into that surfboard, and as a result of those choices, the footprint for that product, including all its manufacturing, distribution, sales, use, and end-of-life disposal, is virtually set in stone until the product is redesigned the next year or several years later.
Design companies of all sizes can now respond to customer demand and comply with regulations in a much more effective and proactive way. Previously, designers would literally have to seek out information on each type of material input separately, then enter this information into their design process. Autodesk’s software makes it simple for designers to use best practices for sustainable design.
Krasley indicated they are looking to crowdsource ideas and want designers to let them know how they can improve the process for sustainable design, hopefully to improve the service and improve sustainability performance in design for small firms.
Scott Cooney is the Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill).