Autodesk Announces Partnership with UK-based Granta Design: HUGE Implications for Green Design

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.

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Scott Cooney is the Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill).

Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.