Minimizing Negative Environmental Impact
It is a dynamic world we live in today and changes occur constantly. We see political, social and economical changes daily with information that is fed to us almost instantly. Almost everyone is becoming more aware of all these changes and how it can and will impact us, even when we are in another continent. But how aware are we of the environmental changes around us? What are we doing that impacts our environment?
Some of the environmental issues we face today are biodiversity, climate change, global warming and pollution (trust me, the list is much longer!). Climate change is the biggest and most controversial environmental issue of our time. The reason why it is so controversial is due to the fact that it is difficult to know with any certainty the exact reasons for the climate changes being seen today. Regardless, it is impossible to deny that human activity is having a significant impact on world- wide climate change
From a global perspective, temperature increase is also documented and undeniable. In July 2010 the British Government’s Meteorological Office and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued findings showing the world was warming. Using 10 indicators consisting of 7 temperature measures and 3 ice/snow cover measures, both agencies have reported that the last three decades have been warmer, beating previous and successively broken temperature records.
Here at home, according to a joint study by National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Adelaide in 2010, Singapore’s rapid development in the last 30 years has been responsible for the loss of 90 per cent of its forests, 67 per cent of its birds, about 40 per cent of its mammals and 5 per cent of our amphibians and reptiles.
“The struggle to save the global environment is in one way much more difficult than the struggle to vanquish Hitler, for this time the war is with ourselves. We are the enemy, just as we have only ourselves as allies.” – Al Gore
So the question we should be asking ourselves is, “Are we doing our part to save the earth?” On a personal level, I can say with conviction that I’m trying. I’m turning off lights and doing my best to reduce the amount of water I use, recycling cans and bottles, minimizing my use of disposable plastic bags and bringing along my own bags to the grocery to reduce the waste I create. No matter how small the contribution is, if everyone takes even simple measures to reduce, reuse and recycle, we are one small step closer towards saving the earth.
So what more can we do to lighten the impact we have on the environment?
As design engineers, we have the power to alter the environmental impact of the products we design. Of course, I’m not underestimating the additional challenges this may create as there are many factors that must be taken into consideration in the design stage. Still, we do have the ability to employ the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) process as a guide to creating more sustainable designs. By using LCA in our design process, we have at our fingertips information to make the most environmentally friendly decisions during product development. A proper LCA looks at a product’s entire life, encompassing such factors as ore extraction, material production, manufacturing, product use, end-of-life disposal, and even the transportation methods used in the process of bringing a product to market and disposing of it responsibly.
The great news is that SolidWorks Sustainability will easily help you! While SolidWorks has always given designers the easiest manner to explore many design options, SolidWorks Sustainability provides the added tools that designers require to examine the impact of their decisions on the environment. For example, using SolidWorks Sustainability you can perform searches on comparable materials and see the impact on the environment, real-time, even easily creatiing detailed reports showing the sustainability of your design. Some of the environmental impact factors considered by SolidWorks Sustainability include Air Acidification, Carbon Footprint, Total Energy Consumed and Water Eutrophication. For more information, contact the helpful staff from SeaCAD Technologies for a free on-site demonstration.
With SolidWorks Sustainability, you can do even more to help protect the planet by designing products that have the smallest possible impact on the environment!