What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
LCA is a detailed analysis that gives you the information you need to make the most environmentally friendly decisions throughout product design. The analysis looks at a product’s entire life, which encompasses ore extraction, material production, manufacturing, product use, end-of-life disposal, and all of the transportation that occurs between these stages.
Environmental Impact Factors
Acid rain. Water pollution. Global warming. Dying animals, plants, and fish. The list goes on. Accurately gauging our impact on the environment has only really come into focus in the past couple of decades. Sustainable design looks at how your product’s development, from cradle to grave, will affect four crucial environmental factors: air acidification, carbon footprint, total energy consumed, and water eutrophication. Measuring these impacts will help guide your designs to reduce their environmental impact.
Crucial Environmental Factors
Burning fuels creates sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and other acidic air emissions. This causes an increase in the acidity of rainwater, which in turn acidifies lakes and soil. These acids can make the land and water toxic for plants and aquatic life, as well as, can slowly dissolve man-made building materials such as concrete.
Carbon dioxide and other gasses resulting from burning fossil fuels accumulate in the atmosphere, which in turn increases the earth’s average temperature. Also known as Global Warming Potential (GWP), carbon footprint is measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which contributes towards problems like loss of glaciers, extinction of species, and more extreme weather, among others.
Eutrophication occurs when an overabundance of nutrients are added to a water ecosystem. Nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater and agricultural fertilizers cause an overabundance of algae to bloom. Water is depleted of oxygen and results in the death of both plant and animal life.
This is a measure of the non-renewable energy sources associated with the model's lifecycle in units of megajoules (MJ). This impact includes not only the electricity or fuels used during the product’s lifecycle, but also the upstream energy required to obtain and process these fuels, and the embodied energy of materials that would be released if burned. Total energy consumed represents the net calorific value of primary energy demand from non-renewable resources (e.g. petroleum, natural gas, etc.).
Discover Features in SOLIDWORKS Sustainability
SOLIDWORKS® Sustainability provides actionable environmental results early in the design cycle by measuring the environmental impacts of individual designs across the product life cycle—including the effects of materials, manufacturing, assembly, transportation, use and disposal—as well as offering alternatives. Using industry-standard Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) criteria, the software generates feedback at a fraction of the time and cost of a typical assessment. In addition to helping you reduce production costs and develop greener products, environmental assessment can lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your products by evaluating potential transportation, usage, and disposal effects.
SOLIDWORKS Sustainability parameters and results are embedded within a SOLIDWORKS model, enabling you to share information with suppliers or customers.
The GaBi environmental LCA database is a set of environmental impacts obtained through a combination of scientific experimentation and empirical results obtained in the field. Nearly all SOLIDWORKS materials and typical manufacturing processes for each material are mapped to the equivalent GaBi material and process.
Perform a cost-effective, screening-level LCA during design. LCA is a systematic method for measuring the environmental impacts of products and processes, and screening-level LCA provides important environmental impact information during product design. Environmental LCA is the most comprehensive and widely accepted method for measuring the environmental impacts of product designs. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software enables you to perform a screening-level LCA during design, which streamlines the process if a full, ISO 14040-certified compliance review must be performed.
Optimize material usage to lessen environmental impacts by finding alternative materials that match your engineering requirements and parameters. Use the Find Similar Materials tool to specify the engineering parameters that are critical to your design and search the SOLIDWORKS material database for all materials that match those parameters. This enables you to satisfy your design requirements while choosing materials with the least environmental impact.
Quickly validate the strength and performance of new material selections using the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools included in SOLIDWORKS Simulation products (purchased separately). Ensure your material selection is appropriate for the needs of your design. If the design has an excessive Factor of Safety (FOS), then redesign using tightly integrated SOLIDWORKS CAD to remove material or change the design.
Capture and communicate the results of your environmental impact assessments by automatically generating professional-quality sustainability reports that detail your product assumptions, the results of the Environmental Impact Dashboard, a hot-spot analysis of components in the assembly, and comparison to the baseline design. The report also includes a glossary of terms relevant to environmental LCA.
With the built-in Environmental Impact Dashboard, you can view the environmental impacts of your design in real time. The Dashboard tracks four key environmental indicators (carbon footprint, total energy consumed, impacts to the air, and impacts to the water) to continually assess environmental impacts as you design, helping you make important design decisions that save time, reduce costs, and improve your products.
Assigning colors to rank and sort components in assembly designs can help you pinpoint the parts that contribute the greatest environmental impacts. SOLIDWORKS Assembly Visualization provides full support for sustainability parameters, enabling you to rank, sort, and color your design on any of the environmental indicators ( carbon footprint, total energy consumed, impacts to the air, and impacts to the water) and related sustainability parameters.
|Functionality||SOLIDWORKS SustainabilityXpress||SOLIDWORKS Sustainability|
|Integrated into SOLIDWORKS Interface|
|LCA of Parts|
|Find Similar Material|
|Impact Factor Dashboard with Key Categories|
|Detailed Report for Parts|
|Baseline Comparison Report|
|LCA of Assemblies|
|SOLIDWORKS Configuration Support|
|"Use Phase" Energy|
|Specify Transportation Type|
|Report Includes BOM with Best/Worst Components|
|Assembly Visualization Support|