Feb 12, 2009

DS SolidWorks Unveils Software to Gauge Any Design's Environmental Impact

Just How Green is That Product You're Designing?

Do you really know how the products you design will affect the environment?

To help provide the answer, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks) today introduced software that details, in real time, the environmental impact of parts, assemblies, and the design decisions that go into them. DS SolidWorks demonstrated an early version of the software yesterday at SolidWorks World 2009.

"Engineers live to solve problems, and they are in a uniquely powerful position to make a positive impact on the environment," said Rick Chin, director of product and marketing innovation for DS SolidWorks. "The impact of the decisions engineers make can be magnified thousands of times or more, given the number of people that use their products and how long those products are used. We're providing designers and engineers with valuable information for making good decisions that significantly reduce the environmental impact of the products they create."

The software, code-named "Sage," will be available in two product forms with this fall's release of SolidWorks 2010: an "Xpress" version included with every license of SolidWorks and a "Professional" version. Both the Xpress and Professional products will display a dashboard at the bottom of the SolidWorks user interface that provides information about a design's prospective carbon footprint, air impact, water impact, and energy consumed in manufacturing. The Professional version will roll up the impact of an entire designed product across its environmental life cycle and also include information on energy consumption throughout a product's usage phase.

"Sage" is the only CAD-integrated software to provide a comprehensive view of a design's environmental impact. Its analysis, for example, accounts for where the product will be manufactured and used. This determines environmental factors such as: where and how raw material is mined; transportation impacts; energy production (e.g., coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.); and power consumption. This comprehensive view increases engineers' confidence that their decisions don't have hidden negative impacts and that they aren't overlooking any positive impacts.

DS SolidWorks partners with PE Americas

"Sage" was developed in collaboration with Germany-based PE INTERNATIONAL and PE Americas, its U.S. division. PE International is the largest and oldest network of sustainability experts in the world. PE International has performed product life cycle assessments for two decades, gathering detailed data about materials and processes to perfect its impact models.

"Sage" is built on PE International's GaBi software, the world's most comprehensive tool for quantifying the environmental performance of materials, processes, products, and infrastructure, with more than 100,000 impact scenarios. It gauges sustainability from a wide number of perspectives, including greenhouse gases, energy, most environmental impacts, life cycle cost, and social impacts.

"Our products and experience show up in 'Sage' in two ways, its remarkable ease of use and the credibility of its calculations," said Nuno da Silva, managing director, PE Americas. "It's all about the data. If you don't have great data, the results are meaningless. We've spent 20 years counseling companies all over the world, gathering data, and using it to refine our life cycle assessment models."

Baselines, drill-downs, and reports

"Sage" will let designers and engineers create a "baseline" design from which to compare every new design with an eye on reducing environmental impact. As the designer selects a different material, process, or design approach, the impact reflected on the dashboard changes.

Designers and engineers will have the ability to drill into the dashboard data. If the carbon impact is 100 tons, for example, they may learn that 50 percent of that stems from material choice, 40 percent from the manufacturing process, and 10 percent from the end-of-life disposal. A lower-impact material could reduce the carbon footprint. The product will produce comprehensive reports useful throughout the enterprise with senior executives, sales, marketing, procurement, and others.

"We've made a good-faith effort to honestly represent the most significant factors in sustainability," said Chin. "The goal is to give designers and engineers solid, actionable information with which they can confidently make sound design decisions. Although everybody has heard terms like carbon footprint, nobody really knows the magnitude of their own impact in terms of carbon and beyond. We're giving designers and engineers a snapshot of this without requiring extra work."