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Rotterdam 6 — 7 Dec It's time for a system reboot.

Intro to designing out waste

Friday, December 7, 11:00-13:00h

Around 80 percent the environmental impact of a product or service happens as a result of decisions made at the early design phase. If you want to reduce the impact, and have the rest of the team with you, you need to know how to think about this phase, and how to talk about the trade-offs you’ll make to achieve these reductions. This is the goal of this session.

Who this for?

This session is aimed at people in organisations who are either:

What will we cover?

Background ~ 30 mins

We’ll start with a high level, overview of how sustainability relates to building connected products, and introduce a few key concepts for measuring different kinds of environmental impact, from material depletion, to greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. In each case there will be concrete examples of steps that large and small existing companies have taken previously.

The goal here is give attendees a coherent mental model they can use when thinking about their products/services, and what kinds of questions they might need to ask to see what to do internally, as well as an idea of how they might measure this, and communicate it using understandable terms.

Applying this to their own context ~ 1hr

Next, attendees will have a chance to apply this to the product/service they are working on themselves, using a specially designed worksheet, to create an Materials, Energy, Toxicity (MET) Matrix.

This tool typically takes longer time to fill out, but initial work with the matrix gives you an understanding of where you are now, and what information you need to make informed decisions about where to reduce your product’s environmental impact.

This might be at the business model level (i.e. leasing products, as a service, versus selling outright), or the bill of materials stage (substituting one toxic, or energy intensive material, for a more environmentally friendly alternative).

Deciding on next steps ~30 mins

Finally, once attendees have an idea of what they need to know to make an effective change, we’ll wrap by showing where they can get this information, depending the resources available to them.

This will include pointers to freely available, open datasets published by academics institutions, for identifying and sourcing alternative materials, as well as newer approaches, like the EcoCost Value Ratio methodology, designed to make quick lifecycle estimations of products in hours versus weeks.


Chris Adams

Chris Adams is technical consultant, who runs a small digital product development company, Product Science. He has been involved in IOTMark’s efforts to create a set of principles and trustmark and the workshops they’ve been running Berlin and London, as well as running various technology/sustainability meetup groups in London and Berlin and working with a string of environmentally focussed tech startups, in UX, development and product management roles.

Isabel Ordoñez

Dr Isabel Ordonez, is an industrial designer from Chile, with a PhD degree in Human Technology Design. She defended her doctoral thesis “Designing out Waste – Exploring barriers for material recirculation” in January 2017. During her studies she developed and teached a sustainable design course for bachelor design students, as well as several lectures to introduce sustainable design to new students. Specifically she has focused on helping designers understand what environmental effects their product development decisions may have once the products are used and later discarded, using different eco-indicator methods to inform early design decisions.

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ThingsCon is a 2 day event, packed with talks, workshops and other events.

Thu, Dec 6

Doors open 8:30h, opening 9:30h
9:45-10:30h: keynotes
10:45-12:45h: workshop round 1
13:00-15:00h: workshop round 2
15:15-17:15h: workshop round 3
17:30h keynote
18:00h pitches student hack challenge
19:00h drinks, award ceremony
Whole day: demos and more

Fri, Dec 7

Doors open 8:30h, opening 9:30h
9:45-10:45h: keynotes
11:00-13:00h: workshop round 4
14:00-17:30h: keynotes
17:30h: closing and drinks
Whole day: demos and more

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Date and time

thursday, 6 dec. 2018, 10:00 – friday, 7 dec. 2018, 20:00 (CET)


Bluecity 100 Maasboulevard, 3063 NS Rotterdam