Environmental Impact Dashboard
|Video: Assess Environmental Impacts of Your Designs||
Four Key Environmental Indicators
These four environmental indicators come from the industry-standard life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology .
- Carbon Footprint – Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and other greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels accumulate in the atmosphere, contributing to climate-destabilizing effects like global warming. The carbon footprint is measured in terms of “kilograms of carbon equivalent” or CO2(e), which calculates the impacts of these greenhouse gases by their Global Warming Potential (GWP) relative to the base unit of measurement, carbon dioxide. This is the same protocol developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and used as the basis for the Kyoto Protocol.
- Total Energy Consumed – A measure of the non-renewable energy sources consumed during the product’s life, measured in megajoules (MJ). Total energy consumed is expressed as the net calorific value of energy demand from nonrenewable resources (for example, petroleum, natural gas, etc.). Efficiencies in energy conversion (for example, power, heat, steam, etc.) are taken into account. This energy is measured from four sources across the product life cycle:
- Energy from the electricity or fuel used during the production and transportation of the materials and product (typically given in kW or MJ).
- Total electricity (typically given in kilowatt-hours or kWh) or fuel (gal, cfm, or Btu) consumed during the usage of the product, summed over the product’s useful lifetime to yield total gal, cfm, Btu, or kilowatt-hours (kWh).
- Upstream energy required to obtain and process the electricity and/or fuel from the first two sources.
- Embodied energy of materials that would be released if burned at the end of life.
- Air Acidification – Sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and other acidic emissions to the air cause 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, and can also slowly dissolve manmade building materials, such as concrete. The Acidification Potential of each contributing type of emission is measured in units of kg sulfur dioxide equivalent, or kg SO2(e), a measure analogous to the GWP used for carbon footprint.
- Water Eutrophication – Eutrophication is an overabundance of biological nutrients in a body of water—typically a sudden influx of nitrogen and/or phosphorous into rivers, lakes, and oceans from industrial wastewater effluent and agricultural fertilizer runoff. This influx of nutrients causes explosive growth in algae populations—an “algal bloom”—that consumes all of the dissolved oxygen, literally suffocating the other plant and animal life in the water. The Eutrophication Potential of each contributing nutrient flow is measured in kg phosphate equivalent or kg PO4(e).
Impacts by Product Life Cycle Stage
Assess environmental impacts at each stage in a product’s life cycle using the Environmental Impact Dashboard.
- Displays results for the four key environmental indicators as pie charts indicating the relative contribution of each life cycle stage, including:
- Material extraction
- Manufacturing and assembly
- Product use
- End of life
- Each colored pie wedge indicates the percentage contribution of that life cycle stage to the total environmental indicator—for example, the contribution of transportation to the carbon footprint.
- Drill down further into each environmental indicator to see the exact numerical contribution at each life cycle stage—for example, how many kilograms of CO2 that product transportation contributes to the total carbon footprint.
Baseline Design Comparison
Compare the environmental impacts of designs against previous, existing, or baseline designs with the Environmental Impact Dashboard.
- A bar below each pie chart on the dashboard indicates the effect of the design on that particular environmental indicator relative to the previous design or a previously saved baseline. The bar is green if the impact on the environmental indicator has improved or red if it has worsened. For example, you can see whether your current design has a lower (green) or higher (red) carbon footprint, and by what percentage of difference.
- Moving your mouse over each bar will display the exact numerical amount of that indicator. For example, you can quickly find out the overall carbon footprint of your design in kg CO2.
Product Duration of Use
Assess sustainability over time by adjusting the duration of use. This capability enables you to examine designs with different life spans, such as comparing disposable and reusable products.