EU-funded researchers have developed an online software platform to help household appliance designers make their products more energy efficient.
Energy consumption has become a key consideration for product manufacturers. The residential/domestic sector makes up about 20 % of global energy consumption, with greenhouse gas emissions from the sector exceeding 35 %. Household appliances contribute greatly to this energy consumption.
Integrating environmental considerations into household products and appliances requires strategic thinking at every stage of design. The EU-funded G.EN.ESI project investigated new ways of supporting the development of commercially viable, cost effective products with significantly reduced environmental impact.
In fact, the G.EN.ESI project has developed a software engineering platform to boost the eco-design and product sustainability of electronic and mechatronic products. Here, manufacturers can find tools to help them evaluate technical solutions during early design stages, and assess their impact on the whole product life cycle.
This is why the EU recently took action to reduce energy consumption in the home. The Commission estimates that the new energy efficiency measures that recently went into force will save the same amount of energy that is current consumed by 11 million homes a year. These measures include energy labels for cooking appliances and products sold online, and automatic stand-by requirements for connected devices and coffee machines.
The project estimates that early design decisions – during the conceptual phase for example – influence between 70 and 80 % of the total product cost, so it is clearly vital that all decisions taken are informed decisions.
However, while advanced software tools already exist to support designers in their functional, structural and aesthetical choices, no easy-to-use tools exist for the environmental evaluation. The project’s software platform addresses this gap, by helping product designers make ecological design choices without losing sight of cost.
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