Policymakers, consumers, and industry leaders are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of modern products. In response, product designers seek simple and effective methods for lowering the environmental footprints of their concepts. Design for environment (DfE) is a field of product design methodology that includes tools, methods, and principles to help designers reduce environmental impact. The most powerful and well-known tool for DfE is life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA requires a fully specified design, however, which makes it applicable primarily at the end of the design process. Because the decisions with the greatest environmental impact are made during early design stages when data for a comprehensive LCA are not yet available, it is important to develop DfE tools that can be implemented in the early conceptual and embodiment design stages. Based on a broad critical review of DfE literature and best practices, a set of 76 DfE guidelines are compiled and reconciled for use in early stage design of products with minimal environmental impact. Select guidelines are illustrated through examples, and several strategies for using the guidelines are introduced.

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