Household energy consumption makes up about 20% of global energy consumption with household appliances contributing significantly to this figure. With an estimated 80% of the environmental impacts of a household appliance determined during the design phase, incorporating eco-design should result in more energy efficient appliances.
This was the motivation behind the G.EN.ESI (Green ENgineering and dESign) project, which has just wrapped up. The 36-month project began in February 2012 and was supported by the European Commission under the FP7 programme. Project coordination was by the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy. Participants included materials information technology company Granta Design, electrical drive systems and electric motors manufacturer Bonfiglioli Vectron, cookerhood manufacturer Faber, French waste processing company Sibuet Environnement, the University of Bath in UK, Grenoble Institute of Technology and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA).
Designing for energy efficiency
The G.EN.ESI project outcomes include a comprehensive methodology that guides the management of environmental integration within existing design and development processes, and a suite of software tools that support environmental decision making during product development.
The methodology consists of a six step process:
1. Define the environmental drivers and business objectives
2. Adopt a life cycle thinking approach to determine what the environmental impacts are
3. Align environmental ‘hotspots’ with the wider business context and define the design criteria
4. Conduct design development activities to meet design criteria
5. Integrate lifecycle checks throughout design development
6. Review design development process and achievements and review long term strategy.
Stages 4 and 5 are likely to be repeated multiple times during a product development. Stage 6 also naturally feeds into Stage 1 for the next generational product development.
Software platform for design assessment
The platform provides a wide range of assessment functionality that focuses on:
• Environmental life cycle assessment
• Life cycle costing
• Specific phases of the product life cycle, including energy efficiency during product use, environmental and cost efficiency during transportation and efficiency of product design during disassembly at end-of-life.
The platform also provides support for product improvements including alternative materials and processes and knowledge and “best practices” for mechatronic products.
The final element of the platform is the supplier web portal to facilitate the integration of external data into the improvement process.
Eco-designed cooking appliances
Resulting from the project also, Faber has developed an eco-designed cooker hood and Bonfiglioli Vectron an eco-designed motor range.
The concept has also already been introduced and effective February 20, new gas and electric hobs, ovens and range hoods in Europe are now subject to eco-design measures.
With a 20% energy efficiency target for 2020 in Europe, any efficiency gains that can be made will help towards achieving that goal.