Conceptual Life Cycle Thinking
These approaches consider the life cycle of a product, but tend to have quite qualitative impact evaluations. One of the most popular tools of this type is the Lifecycle Design Strategies (or LiDS) Wheel, also known as the Ecodesign Strategies wheel. It was developed as a part of the United Nations Environment Programme by Hans Brezet and Carolien van Hemel Brezet as a way to evaluate how well a product design reflects the application of eight ecodesign strategies, especially relative to alternative designs. These strategies are usually represented as an eight-axis radar chart, with each design option plotted as overlays, as in the figure below.
Note that there are no scales defined, plus this reflects the use of strategies, which does not necessarily translate into specific environmental impacts. As stated in the University of Michigan’s EcoDesign and Manufacturing materials, “Because the LiDS Wheel Analyses are inherently qualitative, and based on an arbitrarily defined system of evaluation, it is not a method that can be used to determine the actual environmental impact of a product. It is, however, an excellent method for evaluating environmental tradeoffs between two similar or evolutionary designs.”
Conceptual Life Cycle Thinking and the Three Choices
- Impacts – Any, although not always broken out into specifics
- Scope – All life cycle stages
- Metrics – Generally scores