I had the chance to talk with … Sustainable Minds CEO Terry Swack late last year about their entry into the software world. The company introduced their on demand, green product design software to help manufacturers develop greener products. Sustainable Minds is furthering their ecodesign services by offering companies the ability to measure – and reduce – the environmental impact of their products early in the product lifecycle.
What do they Do?
The key to what Sustainable Minds offers is the ability to help companies make design trade-offs based on objective impact critera. Their product, Lifecycle Analyzer (LCA), allows companies to take a holistic look at the way their products affect our planet, including the energy used to produce it, logistics impact, energy to operate in use, packaging, and consummables. Their methodology, “Okala,” includes “impact factors” that allow designers to compare different options in systematic, repeatable, measurable way. I was impressed that the methodology is based on sound science and data from sources such as the EPA, giving the impact factors credibility. Okala is a single figure scoring system that includes 10 impact categories, over 550 impact factors, and CO2 equivalent values. Although there is no way to truly estimate how “green” a product is, the methodology and software provide a logical way to compare options in a meaningful way.
What do they Offer?
The LCA solution is made to work in conjunction with other solutions like CAD and PLM. For example, it can import a bill of material (BOM) from a CAD system to help engineers understand how “green” their products will perform. By wrapping LCA into the new product development (NPD) process, companies have the opportunity to make environmentally-friendly decision when they still have the flexibility to make decisions that won’t adversely impact product performance or cost, changing “green” from an afterthought to a design parameter that can be tracked.
Sustinable Minds also offers a Learning Center and a community to help companies adopt ecodesign strategies. They also leverage a database with impact factors and offer a process as well as tool. While most companies struggle today with just a process, this broad offering provides a way for companies to get started and makes analyzing design impacts realistically achievable.
Who do they Work With?
LCA is an early product, and Sustainable Minds has been running successful beta pilots. The goal is to work with manufacturers, consultants, and education to promote ecodesign. The company plans to roll out 12 industry modules, so they are thinking very big.
So that’s what I hear from Sustainable Minds, I hope you found it useful. What do you think? What else should I have asked them?