Category 18 April 2019

Sustainable Innovation System (SIS) to create more value

The purpose of design, and particularly eco-design, is always value creation. The SIS Toolkit is an instrument that is promoting sustainable practices in innovation and design processes, to create sustainable value. SIS stands for 'Sustainable Innovation System'.

The challenge

Designers often make decisions that cause problems in the waste phase of the product which leads to non- functional, bad quality products ending up to landfill.

For future designers, resource efficiency, recycling and socially responsible solutions are as important as functionality and aesthetics. 'Sustainability' is the minimum standard and eco-manufacturing is the aim. Products, services, systems and cycles are being designed to create added value on an economical, social and ecological level. This way, the current and future needs of all stakeholders will be met without exceeding the negative environmental impact.

The basic principle behind eco-design is to examine, during the design phase of a product, the possibilities for sustainable design throughout its life cycle. Eco-design is an integral design activity: during the development phase of a product, designers not only take functionality, aesthetics, ergonomics, safety and economic value into account, but also environmental consequences. Specific knowledge and actual information needs to be available to designers in order to allow them to make the right choices throughout the design process.

The innovation

The SIS Toolkit, developed in Belgium, brings together three perspectives on sustainability: a value creation perspective, a strategic and functional perspective, and a life cycle perspective. They are joined in a matrix with five forms of value creation.

The SIS matrix puts the various forms of value creation against a strategic/functional perspective, and a life cycle perspective. With each intersection there is a SIS card associated. Each card offers a leading question. There are 30 of these leading questions that span all of the fields of sustainable design.

The SIS Toolkit does not only offer questions, it also points towards solutions. Every SIS Card describes a practice, concept or instrument that can help to follow up on the leading question. In addition to this, the toolkit offers various tools for design for example, guidelines for designers to ensure optimal waste treatment with maximum and optimal recycling for different types of products. See others:

The tool is a very versatile instrument that can be used for the dissemination of information in a number of ways for example, an open brainstorm, in participatory workshops.

Why did it work?

The tool offers clear and simple guidelines suitable for any business. The general guidelines allow it to be adapted on a case by case basis.

Further deployment

More tools are developed all the time for more specific needs. The latest launch was the Ecolizer ecodesign tool to measure the environmental impact of a product in a simple way. The maturity of this tool is estimated on level 8 in GML.