Under the umbrella term of environmental assessment we recognize a wide range of quantitative and qualitative methods. The spectrum ranges from easy to use qualitative tools - such as the MET-Matrix, where the used materials, consumed energy and related toxicities are described - to more complex, quantitative methods, such as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), where products are modelled in a detailed manner to derive different environmental impact categories (e.g. Global warming potential [GWP], Eutrophication potential [EP], Abiotic resource depletion [ADP], etc.).
Methods in comparison
The following table shows a comparison of qualitative and quantitative methods:
- Qualitative methods (e.g. Checklists, MET-Matrix,..)
Application area: For results used internally e.g. developing product improvement strategies
Advantages: Easy application, Quick to perform
Disadvantages: less accuracy, low validity
Timing within the product devolopment process: Early in product development
- Quantitative methods (e.g. LCA, PCF,..)
Application area: For results used externally, e.g. for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
Advantages: High informative value, Takes different environmental impacts into account
Disadvantages: Requires a lot of data, Time-consuming
Timing within the product development process: Late in product development (due to detailed data requirement)
The ECODESIGN PILOT, opens an external URL in a new window, a qualitative Tool for improving the environmental performance of products has been developed by the ECODESIGN research group. On the basis of the products' environmental profile the software provides tailor-made strategies. Each strategy contains a checklist for identifying possible product improvements.
ECODESIGN+, opens an external URL in a new window is an easy to use environmental assessment software tool for calculating, improving and communicating the product carbon footprint of products and services.
The LCA to go, opens an external URL in a new window-Tools are sector specific simplified LCA-tools available for: bio-based plastics, industrial machines, electronics (including printed circuit boards, semiconductors and passive components), renewable energy, sensors and smart textiles.