Functional and environmental factors in early phases of product development - Eco functional matrix

University dissertation from Stockholm : Maskinkonstruktion

Abstract: Interest in environmental issues has increased enormouslyover the last few decades and environmental problems areperceived to be on the increase. Due to the fact that thenumber of products on the market increases enormously, it isevident that we face a great challenge to overcome the problemconcerning our consumer society. An increasing barrage oflegislation accompanied by the public?s awareness of, andconcern for, the environment forcing the industry to respond.Products and their environmental impact have moved to thecentre stage and it is widely believed that designers have akey role in adapting products to a sustainable society. Threekey issues are identified in this development scenario: (a) theimportance of adapting products to a more sustainable society,(b) the specific situation facing the designer, especially inearly design phases, and (c) balancing environmental impactswith functional preferences.Research in this thesis presents a theoretical framework fordescribing environmental issues and the role of the designer inproduct development, as well as functional characteristics ofproducts in the early phases of design. Based on anengineering-design science foundation, theoretical models andconcepts have been developed describing how both functional andenvironmental preferences can be visualised in design forenvironment and product development. Case studies andinterviews have been performed and integrated into a coherenttheoretical model for identifying and evaluating functional andenvironmental preferences within ecodesign approach andreasoning.The overall concept proposed in this thesis is called theeco functional matrix, based on two parts: functional profileand environmental profile. The functional profile represent thefunctional characteristics and environmental profile theenvironmental characteristics respectively of a product in theearly phases of design. One of the objectives behind theconcept is to highlight the importance of balancing functionalrequirements and environmental impacts, presenting both theadvantages and disadvantages of the product. The basic idea isto account for user and societal preferences as well asenvironmental impact when assessing alternative productconcepts at early design stages. Balancing both the functionalrequirements and the negative environmental impacts of productsis the road to sustainable development.KEYWORDSDesign for environment, life-cycle design,eco-design, eco-design methods, product environmentalcharacteristics, product functional characteristics, customerbenefit, value analysis, functional profile, environmentalprofile, eco functional matrix, product properties.