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Planning Your Green Innovation Strategy


By Jim Belfiore, Certified Innovation Master and Senior Director of Client Innovation and Practices

Strategic innovation initiatives at most product development and manufacturing organizations now include a green directive. Concerns of connections between carbon-dioxide emissions and global climate change have made customers, Green Innovationmanufacturers, and governments more aware of the impact that individuals and business have on our only ecosphere.

What, then, does it mean to “go green” in innovation?  For starters, it means that we all have reason to re-examine the metrics we associate with everyday products and services, both as producers and consumers. One of the more basic metrics to consider is the carbon footprint—specifically the amount of carbon dioxide gas emitted (by weight) as a result of an activity for a given period of time, or the production of a good or service.

Let’s look at a very simple example that affects many companies on a daily basis, and examine the carbon impact in simply shipping one metric ton of product across a country, or around the world.

According to many carbon footprint calculators, each metric ton of cargo shipped through maritime channels between China and the United States generates between 0.44 and 0.63 metric tons of carbon. A metric ton of cargo shipped 1000 miles by heavy truck freight generates 0.33 tons of carbon, and shipped 1000 miles by air creates 0.90 tons.

To put that in perspective, in 2010 the United States produced an estimated 91 million metric tons of soybeans. If all of them were shipped by truck a distance of merely one mile for processing into all the soy products currently in use today, that shipment alone would generate almost 30 million metric tons of carbon, or, over half the carbon generated by all the electricity plants in New England for an entire year.

When we consider the packaging, outsourcing, and energy resources that are consumed in product development and distribution, the opportunity for carbon footprint reduction is significant. In today’s eco-conscious world, carbon reduction is a tremendous opportunity for innovation. So what strategies can a company create as part of their green innovation initiative?

Invention Machine Goldfire enables the creation of product and process designs that target specific innovation goals. Using its functional diagramming and analysis tasks, this innovation software enables designers and engineers to:

  • Map key designs and functions of existing systems
  • Identify key areas for improvement using engineering and strategic parameters
  • Create new designs from suggestions automatically derived from parametric analysis, including value engineering analysis
  • Automatically target and apply customized, expert knowledge during the design process to address design goals and deficiencies

As the world changes to consider impacts that everyday products and services have on the environment, Goldfire is a strategic arrow in the quiver of Green Innovation. To learn more about how Goldfire can help with your green initiatives, watch this quick Go Green with Invention Machine video or learn how Shell leveraged Goldfire to develop next generation biofuel production methods.