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Chapter 11

Environmental Complexity and Designing Activity

11.1 Introduction In this part we describe the supporting methods and tools for analysis and design for environmental sustainability. Including the environmental variable in the design process makes the whole activity more complex (and interdisciplinary). New requirements (environmental ones) have to be taken into account and extended along all the stages and among all the actors of the life cycle. Actually, one has to have more information and assess more relationships: • Between the production–consumption system and the environment • Between different actors of the product development system • Between the latter and the actors involved in the products’ life cycle Within this framework of greater designing complexity, the information technologies acquire an edge, because they have the capacity to contain, circulate, compare, elaborate and present in various forms (and interfaces) the immense amount of information needed, because of their capacity to manage the increased complexity. The indication for information technology to be supportive in designing solutions for environmental issues should by no means be conclusive. In fact, the changes required by the transition to sustainability are systemic and demand not only technological but also social and cultural changes. From the analysis of how environmental issues and Life Cycle Design have entered into the product development processes, two approaches arise. On the one hand, quantitative analysis of the environmental impact of a product’s life cycle has found its place. This tool has come into being due to the demand for qualitative assessment as well as from the necessity to assess and compare alternative proposals. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), among others, is well established and will be analysed in the second chapter of this part. 215

Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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