Sustainable Product Development: Life Cycle Analysis

Sustainability is beginning to impact product development. Since products can be made from various materials it is important to consider how those materials influence sustainability. Peering into projects that are aimed to improve sustainability, the development process for a product is a prime focus. A growing concern, and required metric on many projects is the life cycle of products and how their sustainability impacts the organization and the consumers or end users. Many organizations provide assistance in life cycle mapping and planning. One such organization is Haworth, Inc.

Haworth uses Life Cycle Analysis to assist them with product development and its impact on the environment.  This analysis consists of two key steps including an inventory analysis and impact analysis. The focus of each is to determine the impacts of product development on the environment and the inputs and outputs of the products life cycle. This organization uses life cycle analysis to determine the variation of impact on different product designs and compares them side-by-side. Ideally, this helps the organization to pin point what materials can be recycled and what materials can be used with minimal impact on the environment and any resulting waste therein. These two aspects are an important step within sustainable product development for organizations. This analysis can be customized to accommodate an organization’s strategic product design.

It is critical that organizations to learn how they are impacting the environment with their products. Life cycle assessments will help encourage a more conscious effort to minimize impact and better manage potential negative impacts. It is time to minimize sustainability risk by considering these factors during product development. Incorporating these steps into your processes can help ensure proper corporate social responsibility (CSR), and proactively eliminate environmental impact.

For more information on sustainability in projects, visit http://iispm.org.

Larry T. Barnard, PMP, PMI-RMP, IISPM-Practitioner

Bonnema, M. (2006, February). Sustainable Product Design: Just the Facts. Retrieved January 2012, from www.organicworkspaces.com: http://www.organicworkspaces.com/pdf/Sustainable-Product-Design.pdf

Doyle, K. (2008). Job Market Sees Growing Demand for Sustainability Managers. Retrieved from www.experience.com: http://www.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=green&source_page=home&article_id=article_1208550373072

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