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A green partnership

Are environmental design practices gradually taking effect? By Vanessa Knivett.

It would be hard to have avoided references to clean, green design principles in the last year or so. Issues associated with ‘green’ design principles – whether WEEE or RoHS related or not – have been hotly and widely debated. Whilst the subject of much discussion and with various organisations offering advice and expertise in ‘green’ design, examples of the principles filtering into real design practice are fewer that the amount of talk would suggest.
Without doubt, legislation is having an impact on design practice. Deadlines for compliance to the WEEE and RoHS Directives, and energy using products (EuP) legislation, are approaching rapidly and there are signs this is prompting a broader rethink of design and manufacturing. This is because ‘green’ design is more than simply meeting various legislative measures. Phrases such as ‘design for reuse’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘design for low power’also come into the picture.
Design for reuse, for example, might involve making disassembly easier so parts that don’t experience life limiting conditions and are worth using again can be recovered – popular in large, very expensive telecoms/industrial installations. This might involve the use of special mechanical fasteners, based on shape memory materials, or joints that come apart by melting a specific adhesive.

Vanessa Knivett

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