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5 Oct 2010

The Role of Sustainable Design in Manufacturing

Interview with Matrin Steuer, Autodesk

Martin Steuer, Autodesk Autodesk’s vision is to help people imagine, design and create a better world. Since 80 percent of a product’s environmental footprint is determined in the design phase, Autodesk is focused on simplifying sustainable design for our user base of millions of designers and engineers so the billions of products they create have the lowest environmental impact possible. Giving our users a rich digital prototyping environment to explore ways to: reduce materials, decrease energy in manufacturing, and adhere to regulatory guidelines is a way to open up innovation opportunities for sustainability.

Martin Steuer, Director Market Development Autodesk Manufacturing, gave a talk at COFES-Russia/isicad-2010 forum entitled "Autodesk’s Sustainability Strategy". We asked Martin to share his vision with the readers of isicad.net.

Do you have a set definition about what sustainable design is?

Sustainable design is designing to meet the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable Design for the manufacturing industry is the application of technologies to reduce negative environmental effects related to the design, production, usage, and disposal of manufactured goods. However the ways companies go about designing products sustainably varies greatly.

It seems that the ability to demonstrate energy savings is becoming more important. What is your opinion on the current business drivers for sustainable design?

Energy savings in the manufacturing process is a top-level concern. Consumers are becoming more aware of sustainability. Regulations and voluntary programs in US and in Europe are becoming commonplace and factor heavily in consumer buying decisions. Many European and US Retailers like Tesco, Target, and Wal-Mart already require that products meet certain energy efficiency requirements. Beyond consumer products, government buyers in the US insist on sustainable design requirements and turn down products made with restricted substances like lead and cadmium.

A lot of people believe that green design, sustainable design costs more money. Is that true?

Most of the most popular sustainable design objectives are focused on cost savings. In fact, sustainable design was practiced more widely during the economic downturn than ever before. Energy and water efficiency, arguably two of the most prevalent sustainable design objectives, reduce operating costs. In addition, developing sustainable design strategies early can also help hedge against future liabilities as regulations around toxicity, carbon emissions, and waste disposal mount. Sometimes these future-thinking strategies require up-front investment, but most return a healthy ROI quickly.

What Autodesk products can enable sustainable design?

The digital prototyping environment in Autodesk Inventor offers many opportunities for users to reduce waste and engineer products that require less energy and water to operate. For example, Moldflow helps plastic part designers assess environmental impacts of plastic choices. Autodesk Vault helps companies track product designs against adherence to regulations. Green Building Studio and Ecotect Analysis focus on the building environment and help designers assess the expected energy footprint of their building early in the design process. Strong daylighting capabilities in 3DStudioMax allow designers to see how much sunlight interior and exterior areas of a building are exposed to and the designer can optimize for daylight and potential for solar systems to generate power onsite.

Who is the target audience for Green Building Studio and Ecotect Analysis?

Architects, energy analysts, and engineers.

What is your vision of the future of Autodesk’s toolsets to further sustainable design?

There is no such thing as a “green button” or a quick fix for sustainability. The problem will require many different tools to solve many different problems. Autodesk has an unmatched breadth of portfolio and provides many opportunities to further sustainable design. Within the product lifecycle, our tools are central to decision making at many different levels. The most powerful thing we can do is to listen to our customers and help them make the case for sustainability while giving them tools to experiment before the decisions are made.

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