Key Research Areas

Environmental Evaluation and Eco-design

© Fraunhofer IZM
Iameco PC
© MicroPro | Photo by Kevin Mcfeely

Iameco PC

Evaluation of the environmental performance of products requires detailed knowledge of thedesign, production and the product’s use. Only then is it possible to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into consideration.

Life-cycle modelling, with LCA or carbon footprint analyses identifies the environmentally relevant life cycle phases and the influential parameters. In addition to issuing  own environmental assessments, expertise in methodology and electronics is used to monitor and review external life-cycle assessments in accordance with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 within the evaluation process.

At Fraunhofer IZM, product category rules are developed for electronics which help to improve the applicability of assessment standards for different products and make it possible to compare results.

Such environmental assessments provide the opportunity detailing the  environmental impact resulting from a product., This however involves a laborious procedure. Therefore the IZM has also developed less time-consuming screening indicators such as the TPI (Toxic Potential Indicator) and RARI (Resource Availability Risk Indicator).

In order to minimise environmental impact, it is important to begin in the design phase for new products. By integrating environmental considerations on the basis of the methods of environmental evaluation and product analysis, it is already possible in the early phases of product development to optimise the design regarding environmental aspects.

The environmental evaluation and eco-design group works on:

  • Eco-design: Methods and product analyses (environmental optimisation of products, integration of environmental questions in the development)
  • Life-cycle modelling (environmental analysis of processes, environmental auditing and critical review, screening, parameterisation for eco-audits)
  • Determining carbon footprints of products and their critical review, with product category rules for electronics
  • Eco reliability

Environmental Evaluation Methods

New innovative products offer high quality and reliability together with superior usability – but at the same time the whole life cycle has to be taken into account regarding costs and environmental performance. Increasingly, companies identify this as a market necessity. IZM provides methods in support of product ecodesign.

Projects relating to Environmental Evaluation and Eco-design

Sustainable design decisions

Electronic devices with a long service life can make an important contribution to a sustainable society. Fraunhofer IZM supports manufacturers in developing these kinds of product concepts, and in optimizing them to be environmentally friendly.

Helping European SMEs Apply Life Cycle Assessments (LCA to go)

Developing SME-friendly methods and software tools for key innovative business sectors

Energy-Efficient Information and Communication Technology for SMEs, Administration and the Home (IT2Green)

Ten pilot projects are designing energy-efficient solutions for ICT infrastructure as part of the research initiative IT2Green. Fraunhofer IZM is supporting the projects by supplying basic research on quality assurance, effective implementation and efficient knowledge transfer.

Globale Initiative „Solving the E-waste Problem” (StEP)

Electronic scrap, or e-waste, contains valuable resources and has serious environmental consequences. An international initiative is tackling the problem in all its complexity: reuse and recycling strategies, product design requirements, policy questions and knowledge transfer and public information.

Measurement Methodology of the Carbon and Energy Footprints of the ICT Sector (ICT-CFP)

The ICT sector has great opportunities to achieve the overall aim of decoupling economic growth from the use of resources and associated environmental impacts. At the same time, the sector causes relevant GHG emissions. To understand the true net benefit of the sector, however, the sector’s own impact must first be defined, measured and quantified.

Technical Assistance for a Material-efficiency Ecodesign Report and Module to the Methodology for the Ecodesign of Energy-related Products (MEErP)

This project is assessing options for including material efficiency as part of the Methodology for Ecodesign of Energy-related Products (MEErP). Researchers will identify the most important materials from a resource efficiency perspective and assess the possibilities regulating these materials under the Ecodesign Directive.

BMBF Junior Research Group

„Obsolescence as a challenge for sustainability“

 

The interdisciplinary research group aims to investigate the multiple and interacting causes of obsolescence in electronics. Perspectives from engineering, economic science and sociology will be combined to explain obsolescence in its various forms and to develop strategies to enlarge use phases and reduce the amount of products consumed.