The overall aim of the paper is to provide an understanding of the environmental issues involved in the early stages of product development and the capacity of life cycle assessment techniques to address these issues. The paper aims to outline the problems for the designer in evaluating the environmental benignity of the product from the outset and to provide the designer with a framework for decision support based on the performance evaluation at different stages of the design process. A discussion is given about the barriers to implementation of LCA by developers of products, and of the opportunities for introducing environmental criteria in the design process through meeting the information requirements of the designer on the different life cycle stages, producing an in-depth understanding of the attitudes of practitioners among product developers to the subject area, and an understanding of possible future directions for product development. An Environmentally Conscious Design method is introduced and trade-offs are presented between design degrees of freedom and environmental solutions. Life cycle design frameworks and strategies are addressed. The paper collects experiences and ideas around the state-of-the-art in eco-design, from literature and personal experience and further provides eco-design life cycle assessment strategies. The result of the paper is a definition of the requirements for performance measurement techniques and a performance measurement environment necessary to support life cycle evaluation throughout the evaluation of early stages of a product system.
Environmental Progress, 2003, Vol 22, Issue 4, p. 255-267