DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Winfield, Karen Elizabeth; Woolley, Joshua; Bradley, Elliot George; Pope, Daisy Victoria; Yakar-Pritchard, Gamze; Drummond, Sean James; Meadwell, James Edward; Williams, Rowan Alexander; Mutch, Craig Alexander Robert
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom; Alpkit, Engine Lane, Newthorpe, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Section: Responsible innovation in design and engineering education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.41
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Product designers are being increasingly challenged to innovate, whilst also having the responsibility to reduce the impact on the planet of the products they design. This paper explores and tests the use of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) methodology to drive sustainable innovation in a design sprint process to identify opportunities, validate decisions and deliver compelling evidence to push further the boundaries of what may seem improbable improvements to reach greater sustainable credentials. Alpkit (an award winning outdoor and bike brand), were already forging a lead in developing carbon light outdoor gear, and offered the challenge to seek further opportunities to do more good, to target further reduction in their carbon ‘footprint’ of their Soloist tent whilst also looking to improve their social ‘handprint’. Alpkit were enrolled in Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Sustainability in Enterprise (SiE) programme (part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)), which sets out to help small/medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Nottingham on their journey to Net Zero. Alpkit alongside NTU SIE project team were also afforded the opportunity to work with the Design Matter group to lead the LCA tool delivery. Fifty-four students enrolled on NTU’s BSc Product Design course were mixed with seventeen international exchange students (enrolled onto the European Project Semester (EPS)) were set the project brief to reduce the carbon footprint of the Soloist tent, working as design consultants throughout the project. The methodology utilized focused on a two-week event, whereby the students embraced the already deep learning of the existing product and its development through an immersion into the brand of Alpkit and further discovering opportunities through the use of an LCA tool. The LCA tool was tailored specifically to enable the granular investigation required to further improve an already carbon light product. The tool was used in an interactive design process to explore options and to seek the most impactful innovation delivering better sustainability outcomes. The paper details the methodology used, defines the detail and modification of the LCA tool and describes the level of granularity that would not otherwise be afforded if this tool was not embedded in the project. The Life Cycle Analysis methodology enabled the students to think creatively and recognize the value and power of innovation through granular analysis and development. Learnings delivered through the analysis of this case study aim to prove the importance of data-driven design insights to add value and increase sustainability opportunities.

Keywords: Responsible Innovation, Collaborative/Cooperative Learning, Design Sprint, Product Design Education, Sustainable development


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