Design for the Environment (DFE)
This is the first edition of CSA Information Product 2762, Design for the Environment (OF€). It is
intended to provide an environmentally responsible framework for product, process, and service design without losing sight of other important factors such as marketability, efficiency, and productivity. Design improvement checklists expanding on five core principles provide the means to assess design parameters in an environmental context. A guide for the examination and evaluation of the design checklists is defined as a final step in the DFE process.
The concepts for DFE are strongly tied to those of CSA Standard 2760-94, Life Cyde Assessment,
particularly to the Initiation phase of the life cycle. The principles developed in this publication are
founded on the concept that any product, process, or service has a life cycle which includes raw
material acquisition, manufacturing or processing, use, and waste management stages. These stages
are linked to design option evaluations throughout the text to allow for an overall improvement of the product, process, or service.
This Information Product is one of a series of CSA’s Environmental Publications. Programs to foster
and promote compliance with these guidelines are voluntary, operated by independent organizations with government and industry cooperation. The programs promote environmental awareness of resource conservation and of the need to achieve environmental loading reductions through voluntary compliance with the relevant established environmental targets. It is up to each organization to develop its own programs guided by these CSA environmental publications and other relevant tools.
This Guideline provides an overview of key environmental considerations and a method of defining the scope of the environmental design process. It outlines that there is a need for designers to evaluate the total life cycle of a product through utilizing concepts such as life cycle approaches, risk assessment, and other means. It also reviews the life cycle stages of a product and provides guidance on improving its environmental performance. Checklists, which are only one tool of many, are provided to help designers evaluate their design options. The utilization of such checklists should be accompanied by some element of sensitivity analysis, because although they are written to guide users in the direction of environmental improvement, in some situations other tools may be required to reach a more comprehensive decision. Product design, development, and review should be carried out with these environmental considerations and checklists in mind. Individual designers may use this guideline to derive more specific environmental design criteria to suit their product options while maintaining the integrity of the environmental principles and the guideline framework. The publication provides the designer with an understanding of the environmental factors that may be modified to improve environmental performance of the product life cycle.
This Guideline may be used for:
a) new designs that are innovative solutions to previous or new requirements;
b) new features to be incorporated in the next generation of existing products; and
c) incremental improvements or modifications to existing products. The design changes may be intended to affect any one or more stages of the life cycle of the product, and for incremental and continuous improvements leading to minimization of environmental burdens.
1.2 Intended Users
This Guideline is for use by those who are responsible for bringing a product to market. This could include environmental professionals such as engineers, technicians, planners, etc, and specifically designers, their supervisors, and their management. It is also advisable to include other personnel such as risk assessors, industrial hygienists, medical and safety personnel, and product line management in the evaluation process. The details of the evaluation will also be of interest and use to personnel in marketing, legal, services, sales, and product distribution. This Guideline is applicable to large and small organizations, including manufacturers, consulting specifiers, and users.
Note: Others may have a general interest in the subject and wish to understand the processes of environmental design. Those interested in the use of the guideline are expected to include public interest groups, waste management professionals, purchasing management, government regulators, investors, shareholders, and other stakeholders.
Implementation of DFE will require compromises and trade-offs (competing priorities) to make hard choices which may be constrained by factors such as technical complexity and limited information on outcomes. Also, the technical framework is itself evolving as new manufacturing practices and materials are introduced. Therefore, it should be recognized that it often will not be possible to definitively show that one design is environmentally superior to another. In addition, gaps in information and data quality issues, together with varying interpretations of effects and consequences, may affect the assessment results and create subjective conclusions. However, in the longer term, DFE will positively influence the way products are sourced, manufactured, distributed, marketed, used, and disposed of, so as to effectively improve their environmental performance.
DFE is a process which helps to evaluate and provide insight on improvement opportunities for specified design options. However, DFE does not provide specific guidance on the establishment of design options. Design options are developed in response to the broader set of performance requirements and objectives.
The guideline is written in generic terms and its scope of application is intentionally wide; therefore most manufacturers of products and processes will find it applicable and may gain from its use. Those providing services may also find this publication useful, particularly if a rigorous approach is used in understanding the wide-ranging impact of using any materials in providing those services. Users of the guideline may also request their suppliers to review and rationalize their own design processes with the principles laid out. As this is part of a life cycle approach, the designer should be aware that an improvement at one stage during the life cycle of a product may result in a negative impact at other stages of the life cycle.
The guideline provides annotated references to more specialized texts and publications that will be useful in providing a wider understanding of the environmental principles to be used in expanding and continuing the process of establishing design for the environment.
1) There are other sources of information that are appropriate for the reduction or remediation of environmental burdens that are inherent in a given product after its design is complete, eg, waste management and the optimization of a selected manufacturing process.
2) The user of this document should be alerted as not to make assumptions about subject matter for which access to expertise is not available.