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LCA Software for Engineering Training on Product Development
Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainability Education and Approaches
Abstract: Environmental conscience has been growing gradually in recent decades. The market is demanding ecological actions over the products, and legislation is introducing ecodesign measures in products. Because of that, ecodesign is becoming an important discipline in engineering, to take into account the environmental impact of the product during its development, performing Life Cycle Assessment, but it is not still a common discipline in engineering. Training focused on LCA for product development is essential to introduce ecodesign between engineering students, who are not used to work with environmental concepts. The best tool for this training is LCA software to learn through the practice how to calculate the environmental impact of a design, and how this results can be used to improve their designs from an ecological point of view. This work presents the ECOTOOL, software designed to train engineers in LCA methodology. Current existing LCA software are not prepared to be used by untrained engineers, sometimes because they are difficult to be used due to large databases and the complex working environment, and sometimes they are extremely simplified, not sensitive to design modifications. ECOTOOL allows complete LCA performing with a working environment similar to other engineering tools, like professional CAD software, well known by engineers. It is provided with reduced databases, training helps, simplified results and an intuitive working environment to allow students to easily analyze the environmental impact of their designs and apply design actions to optimize it, at the same time they learn the concepts of LCA methodology. Comments to the editor: Thank you for your kind review. The claim that 'the market is demanding ecological actions' will be explained and justified in the paper, as there are links between European legislation and the environmental conscience in Europe. The expression "appropriate training" has been modified in the abstract to avoid misunderstandings. With “appropriate” we intended to mean that the training should be focused on environmental impact assessment for product development, and not just focused on environmental impact assessment in a scientific context, talking only about the calculation and the scientifically basis. For us, it is very important to focus the training in this discipline into a practical application, which is the product development, so products could be improved from an ecological point of view thanks to environmental impact assessment during the design process.
Keywords: Training; software; ecodesign; LCA