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10 System Design for Eco-efficiency

10.4.3 Services Providing “Enabling Platforms for Customers” This approach refers to business activities that provide access to products, equipment or possibilities in general (platforms) that allow the customer to obtain the results demanded. It means that the customer works autonomously to engage the utilities, but does not own the products, paying only for the service provided by the products. The usual commercial applications of this kind are leasing, sharing and renting. These supply methods can lead to intensified use of products, as probably more than one customer would be using the same product (Examples 10.6–10.12). This has the evident advantage of reducing the overall number of products simultaneously present in a given place5. Also, here the provider of the collective service is more efficient because it has greater professionalism, access to a higher level of technology and can benefit from economies of scale. Usually, these kinds of services require certain reasonable changes in one’s lifestyle and in one’s perception of well-being.

Examples 10.6 Launderettes have environmental advantages compared with domestic washing machines and these are effectuated by the higher efficiency of industrial washing machines, due to their technological advances and the higher amount of laundry processed at the one time. Current disadvantages reside in the transportation of laundry (to and from the launderette) and energy consumption during mechanical drying. Various structures could be employed for stationing communal washing machines and disengaging the consumer’s active participation: • Service centres: service networks in residential zones that offer professional performance • Integrated into a communal room inside a building: allows advanced technologies to be used that otherwise would prove too expensive • Laundrette combined with other activities: offer the services away from home, in places that are frequently used due to work or travel • Laundry home delivery service: dirty laundry is picked up and returned home

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The advantage is not so much in reducing the overall amount of products produced and disposed of, but their exact presence at a given time and space. It is hard to say straight away if the actual turnover of production and disposal is going to be reduced or increased: a more intensely used product tends to become worn out sooner. But a reduction in the simultaneous presence is an advantage indeed. It is enough to think about traffic jams – the same service with fewer cars present pollutes less than an intense traffic situation.

Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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