Environmental performance requirements in product development : an exploratory study of two development projects

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: In recent years, Ecodesign has attracted increased attention from researchers. In this thesis, the term Ecodesign refers to the actions taken and activities carried out originating from the incorporation of environmental performance requirements in a product development project. Earlier Ecodesign research has primarily focused on the development of various tools for supporting practitioners. Only a few studies have focused on how the incorporation of environmental performance requirements affects development projects and the changes that a development organisation undergoes to become more environmentally conscious. The objective of this thesis is therefore to explore characteristics of product development projects originating from the incorporation of environmental performance requirements.The empirical material has been collected from two in-depth case studies of product development projects in which new and complex business-to-business products were developed. The first case study addressed a project in which a telecommunications product was developed. The study occupied approximately 1 ½ years and was performed as a real-time, longitudinal study. The second case study was performed as an ex-post study and addressed a product development project in which a new power generating gas turbine was developed.The analysis, which takes as its starting point a number of essential product development elements derived from the literature, revealed a number of differences between the projects. These differences seem largely tobe due to different levels of Ecodesign experience in the development organisations carrying out each project. When relating the development organisations' level of Ecodesign experience to a three-phase model of theEcodesign integration process presented in earlier research, it was found that one of the organisations fitted into the model, whereas the other did not. On the basis of this finding, a fourth Ecodesign integration phase was detected and denoted the Innovative Ecodesign phase. Complementing the existing model with this new phase, the so-called Extended Ecodesign Integration model was developed. The model shows that the focus in development projects carried out within development organisations in the first three phases of Ecodesign seems to be set on the environment and integration of Ecodesign in the development process. Development organisations that have reached the Innovative Ecodesign phase tend to direct efforts in the projects mainlytowards the application of new technology and technical problem solving in order to fulfil the environmentalperformance requirements.

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