SOLIDWORKS Sustainability

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability provides a screening-level life cycle assessment (LCA) of the environmental impacts of your full design, with seamless integration to your design process. It includes the diverse tools of SustainabilityXpress (parts assessment, alternative materials search, and environmental impact dashboard) with additional capability to assess both parts and assemblies, using parameters such as transportation mode and distance, assembly energy, and use-phase energy consumption. Flexible inputs, such as recycled content level and end-of-life scenarios, enable more detailed assessments. You can even perform time-dependent environmental comparisons using the varying lifetimes of different design solutions.


Assessment results are saved for each design configuration, helping you easily compare versions. The Assembly Visualization tool ranks the impact of the parts in your assembly to pinpoint and reassess the sustainability of your design. Seamless integration and automatic report generation allow you to quickly communicate your sustainable design solution.



SOLIDWORKS Sustainability Data Sheet

SOLIDWORKS Workstations




Video: First Look SOLIDWORKS Sustainability


SOLIDWORKS Sustainability uses the gold-standard GaBi LCA environmental impact database from PE International. You can download updates as they become available, and even request new LCA datasets for your custom materials and processes as a premium service in partnership with PE International.


SOLIDWORKS Sustainability solutions include:

{tabs type=sliders}
{tab title=>> Sustainable Design}

CAD-embedded SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software enables designers and engineers to perform real-time environmental assessment as part of the product design process. You can quickly evaluate the environmental impacts of product designs, reduce material and energy usage, and incorporate sustainable design practices to save time and money, and gain an important strategic advantage over competitors by quickly capturing and acting on environmental impacts assessment information.

Sustainable Design Overview

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability provides actionable environmental results by measuring the environmental impacts of individual designs across the product life cycle—including the effects of material, manufacturing, assembly, and transportation. Using industry-standard life cycle assessment (LCA) criteria, the software generates instantaneous feedback at a fraction of the time and cost of a typical assessment. In addition to helping you reduce production costs and develop greener products, environmental assessment can lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your products by evaluating potential transportation, usage, and disposal effects.

Manufacturing Cost Reductions

Reduce manufacturing costs related to material and energy usage by conducting environmental impacts assessments.

  • Track environmental progress as you work to lightweight your products. Redesigning the geometry for equivalent strength with less material or choosing a material that requires less energy for production can carve costs out of your process. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability factors the cost of extracting and processing raw materials into your material purchasing costs, enabling you to save money while improving the sustainability of designs.

  • Environmental impacts assessment goes beyond material impacts and evaluates additional manufacturing and assembly inputs, such as electrical energy consumption, heat energy usage, and material scrap rates. View industry averages for these manufacturing impacts or input your own custom manufacturing data to assess the environmental impacts and potential cost reductions associated with designing your product for cleaner manufacturing.

  • Reduce the costs of distribution and transportation of materials—as well as the expenses incurred by customers—by using SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to examine various multimodal shipping options.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Increase customer satisfaction by using environmental impacts assessment to reduce the costs related to the purchase of your products.

  • Take steps to reduce customer energy use (and related maintenance expenses) by using SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to determine the energy your product consumes. Your cost estimates can point the way toward savings.

  • Disposal or tipping fees at the end of product life add costs to your products. Assess end-of-life impacts—and work toward reducing them—by using environmentally benign and recyclable materials. Model environmental impacts across various design lifetimes and usage durations, demonstrating ways to lessen impacts, and cut energy costs by extending your product’s lifespan.

Automatic Environmental Reports

Communicate the environmental impacts of your products to coworkers, partners, and customers with SOLIDWORKS Sustainability automatic reporting capability.

  • Instantly generate reports that show the environmental impacts of your designs and demonstrate the verifiable steps taken to minimize environmental impacts for your customers.

  • Demonstrate a complete understanding of your product design by showing its sustainability profile, design alternatives comparison, and the impact breakdown of complex assemblies.

Share Sustainability Data

Publish and share valid data on the success of your sustainable design practices.

  • Share a professional-quality Sustainability Report with environmentally minded customers including your company branding and a glossary of environmental terms.

  • Automatically share the environmental metrics of your designs with your suppliers and customers by embedding SOLIDWORKS Sustainability data directly into your CAD files.

Accurate and Reliable Environmental Data

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability results are accurate, reliable, and credible.

  • Sustainability reports use peer-reviewed, industry-standard life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology .

  • SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software utilizes data and models from the industry-leading GaBi Environmental Database from PE INTERNATIONAL, which can be automatically updated from within SOLIDWORKS software.

Internal and External Communications

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability reports support both internal and external communication requirements.

  • By addressing key industry-standard environmental indicators, SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software provides common terminology and metrics for measuring internal progress toward sustainability goals.

  • Communicate sustainable design progress to external audiences quickly and easily using the automatic, fully customizable sustainability report generation tools in SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software.

  • Sustainability parameters and results are embedded within the SOLIDWORKS model, enabling you to share information with suppliers or customers.


{tab title=>> GaBi Environmental Database}

Use the worldwide gold standard for environmental impact data to ensure the validity and credibility of your environmental impacts assessments with SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software . The extensive GaBi® Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database, created by PE INTERNATIONAL, a pioneering life cycle assessment (LCA) firm, is built on scientific expertise and empirical data gathered over 20-plus years. The GaBi environmental database is regularly updated inside SOLIDWORKS Sustainability to ensure information is current.

Key attributes of the GaBi Environmental Database include:

Database of Environmental Impacts

The GaBi environmental LCI database is a peer-reviewed set of environmental impacts obtained through a combination of scientific experimentation and empirical results obtained in the field. Nearly all SOLIDWORKS materials and typical manufacturing processes for each material are mapped to the equivalent GaBi material and process.

Industry Aggregate Process Model

The GaBi database uses an industry aggregate process model of data from actual materials processing and manufacturing companies, which are aggregated to the industry level. Using SOLIDWORKS Sustainability, you can view the typical manufacturing parameters for each process in each region. For example, the database includes the average heat energy usage, electricity consumption, and scrap rate for polypropylene injection molding in North America, as well as for 6061 aluminum machining in India. Override these industry and regional defaults to set more specific, customized inputs and results for your organization.


{tab title=>> Material Optimization}

Optimize material usage to lessen environmental impacts by quickly finding alternative materials that match your engineering parameters. Use the Find Similar Materials tool to specify the engineering parameters that are critical to your design and search the SOLIDWORKS material database for all materials that match those parameters. This enables you to satisfy your design requirements while choosing material with the least environmental impacts.

Define Engineering Requirements

The Find Similar Materials tool begins with an Input Screen dialog that asks you to specify the engineering parameters for your part design:

  1. The part’s material and engineering characteristics are listed here. This part, using ABS plastic, has an Elastic Modulus of 2x109 N/m2.

  2. This shows the part’s environmental impact using ABS plastic. It has a carbon footprint of 0.323 kg CO2-equivalent, uses 5.4 MJ of energy, emits 1.9x10-3 kg SO2-equivalent air impacts, and emits 1.4x10-4 kg PO4-equivalent water impacts.

  3. The pie charts show how much of the part’s environmental impacts are related to the material (in blue). When the “blue” pie slice is large, as it is in several of these illustrations, the material choice will significantly affect environmental impacts.

  4. Specify the manufacturing process that you will use to more accurately estimate the environmental impacts, especially if the manufacturing pie slice (yellow) is high.

  5. These drop-down boxes enable you to specify the engineering characteristics that are required for this part. Narrow the material class to just plastics, steels, aluminums, etc. Specify minimum, maximum, or approximate values for all of these engineering characteristics. In this case, we query the database for all materials that have a lower thermal conductivity and a higher tensile strength than the current ABS plastic.

  6. After setting the search criteria, click “Find Similar” to search the entire SOLIDWORKS material database for similar materials.

Search for Environmentally Friendly Alternatives

Once you lock in engineering parameters, use the Find Similar Materials tool to find all the potential materials that fit your requirements. Assess the relative environmental impacts of each of these alternative materials to select the best option.

  1. Within a second, the Find Similar Material tool searches the SOLIDWORKS material database of hundreds of materials and returns all of the materials that match your engineering criteria. In this case, the guiding parameters are thermal conductivity < 0.2256 and tensile strength > 3 x 107.

  2. If too many or too few materials appear in your results, edit your search criteria to be more or less restrictive.

  3. As you click on each material, see how the environmental impacts compare to the current material. For example, in this case, we learned that making this part in PVC rigid plastic would result in a lower carbon footprint of 0.286 kg CO2, and decreased energy and water impacts, but a higher air impact. This is an example of the environmental tradeoffs that must sometimes be considered when choosing materials.

  4. The pie charts show that if the part were made in PVC rigid plastic, the manufacturing process (represented in yellow) would contribute a higher percentage of the environmental impacts than when using ABS plastic. This suggests that you can probably reduce all four environmental indicators further by changing some of the manufacturing parameters for injection-molded PVC.


{tab title=>> Screening-Level Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)}

Perform a screening-level life cycle assessment (LCA) during design at a fraction of the time and cost of a full LCA. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software enables you to perform a screening-level LCA during design, which streamlines the process if a full, ISO 14040-certified LCA is performed. Environmental LCA is the most comprehensive and widely accepted method for measuring the environmental impacts of product designs.

The Science of Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

LCA is a systematic method for measuring the environmental impacts of products and processes, and screening-level LCA provides important environmental impact information during product design.

  • Perform a screening-level LCA on four traditional LCA indicators , including carbon footprint, total energy consumption, air impacts, and water impacts.

  • The data used to perform the screening level LCA is from the ISO 14040-compliant GaBi Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database , which was developed by PE INTERNATIONAL, a pioneering LCA firm.

  • The environmental impacts are calculated using the most standardized Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methodologies. These include the CML impact assessment method developed by the University of Leiden , or the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and other Environmental Impacts (TRACI) , developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Choose to view results in either LCIA methodology.

  • A glossary of terms in the sustainability report can help you interpret screening-level LCA results.

Further Analysis of LCA Results

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software includes tools that enable you to use screening-level LCA results for additional analysis:

  • Export screening-level LCA results to Excel or XML format with the push of a button.

  • Read XML data from your screening-level LCA directly into GaBi 5 Life Cycle Assessment software from PE INTERNATIONAL. This enables you to jump-start your ISO 14040-compliant Life Cycle Assessment.


{tab title=>> Automatic Sustainability Report Generation}

Capture and communicate the results of your environmental impacts assessments by automatically and instantaneously generating sustainability reports. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software automatically generates a professional-quality sustainability report that details your product assumptions, the results of the Environmental Impact Dashboard, a hot-spot analysis of components in the assembly, and comparison to the baseline design. The report also includes a glossary of terms relevant to environmental life cycle assessment.

Key content included in each sustainability report includes:

  • Product Assumptions - The report, formatted in Microsoft® Word, begins with a product overview that includes your company’s name and logo (if desired), and the name and image of the product design. This overview captures the basic assumptions of the environmental assessment, such as the time period over which the assumptions are being performed (duration of use), the manufacturing and use regions of the world, and the weight of the product. Easily customize the report (deleting undesired portions or inserting additional details), and modify the report template to your specifications.

  • Environmental Impact Dashboard Results - The information from the Environmental Impact Dashboard, including results for the four environmental indicators (carbon footprint, total energy consumption, air impacts, and water impacts), is displayed in the report using the same pie chart format used in SOLIDWORKS Sustainability software. The report includes absolute numerical values for each life cycle stage (material extraction, manufacturing and assembly, transportation, product use, and end of life) broken down for each environmental indicator, as well as the total value for each indicator.

  • Hot-Spot Analysis of Assembly - The sustainability report for assemblies includes a graphic and tabular display of the parts in the assembly having the greatest environmental impacts for each environmental indicator.

  • Baseline Design Comparison - When comparing sustainability assessments against a baseline design, the report details the comparison results for each life cycle stage and environmental indicator, using red and green bars, which can be helpful in making decisions on environmental tradeoffs.


{tab title=>> Environmental Impact Dashboard}

See the environmental impacts of your design in real time as you make design changes or product decisions with the SOLIDWORKS Sustainability built-in Environmental Impact Dashboard. The dashboard tracks four key environmental indicators (carbon footprint, total energy consumed, impacts to the air, and impacts to the water) to continually assess environmental impacts as you design, helping you make important design decisions that save time, reduce costs, and improve your products.

Four Key Environmental Indicators

These four environmental indicators come from the industry-standard life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology .

  • Carbon Footprint – Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and other greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels accumulate in the atmosphere, contributing to climate-destabilizing effects like global warming. The carbon footprint is measured in terms of “kilograms of carbon equivalent” or CO2(e), which calculates the impacts of these greenhouse gases by their Global Warming Potential (GWP) relative to the base unit of measurement, carbon dioxide. This is the same protocol developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and used as the basis for the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Total Energy Consumed – A measure of the non-renewable energy sources consumed during the product’s life, measured in megajoules (MJ). Total energy consumed is expressed as the net calorific value of energy demand from nonrenewable resources (for example, petroleum, natural gas, etc.). Efficiencies in energy conversion (for example, power, heat, steam, etc.) are taken into account. This energy is measured from four sources across the product life cycle:

    • Energy from the electricity or fuel used during the production and transportation of the materials and product (typically given in kW or MJ).

    • Total electricity (typically given in kilowatt-hours or kWh) or fuel (gal, cfm, or Btu) consumed during the usage of the product, summed over the product’s useful lifetime to yield total gal, cfm, Btu, or kilowatt-hours (kWh).

    • Upstream energy required to obtain and process the electricity and/or fuel from the first two sources.

    • Embodied energy of materials that would be released if burned at the end of life.

  • Air Acidification – Sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and other acidic emissions to the air cause an increase in the acidity of rainwater, which in turn acidifies lakes and soil. These acids can make the land and water toxic for plants and aquatic life, and can also slowly dissolve manmade building materials, such as concrete. The Acidification Potential of each contributing type of emission is measured in units of kg sulfur dioxide equivalent, or kg SO2(e), a measure analogous to the GWP used for carbon footprint.

  • Water Eutrophication – Eutrophication is an overabundance of biological nutrients in a body of water—typically a sudden influx of nitrogen and/or phosphorous into rivers, lakes, and oceans from industrial wastewater effluent and agricultural fertilizer runoff. This influx of nutrients causes explosive growth in algae populations—an “algal bloom”—that consumes all of the dissolved oxygen, literally suffocating the other plant and animal life in the water. The Eutrophication Potential of each contributing nutrient flow is measured in kg phosphate equivalent or kg PO4(e).

Impacts by Product Life Cycle Stage

Assess environmental impacts at each stage in a product’s life cycle using the Environmental Impact Dashboard.

  • Displays results for the four key environmental indicators as pie charts indicating the relative contribution of each life cycle stage, including:

    • Material extraction

    • Manufacturing and assembly

    • Transportation

    • Product use

    • End of life

  • Each colored pie wedge indicates the percentage contribution of that life cycle stage to the total environmental indicator—for example, the contribution of transportation to the carbon footprint.

  • Drill down further into each environmental indicator to see the exact numerical contribution at each life cycle stage—for example, how many kilograms of CO2 that product transportation contributes to the total carbon footprint.

Baseline Design Comparison

Compare the environmental impacts of designs against previous, existing, or baseline designs with the Environmental Impact Dashboard.

  • A bar below each pie chart on the dashboard indicates the effect of the design on that particular environmental indicator relative to the previous design or a previously saved baseline. The bar is green if the impact on the environmental indicator has improved or red if it has worsened. For example, you can see whether your current design has a lower (green) or higher (red) carbon footprint, and by what percentage of difference.

  • Moving your mouse over each bar will display the exact numerical amount of that indicator. For example, you can quickly find out the overall carbon footprint of your design in kg CO2.

Product Duration of Use

Assess sustainability over time by adjusting the duration of use. This capability enables you to examine designs with different life spans, such as comparing disposable and reusable products.


{tab title=>> Assembly Visualization}

Assigning colors to rank and sort components in your assembly designs can help you pinpoint parts that contribute the greatest environmental impacts. SOLIDWORKS Assembly Visualization provides full support for sustainability parameters, enabling you to rank, sort, and color your design on any of the four traditional LCA indicators and related sustainability parameters.

Visualize Assemblies on Environmental Indicators

Manipulate assembly displays to focus on parts that cause the greatest impacts to the environment.

  • Visualize your assembly on any of the four environmental indicators (carbon footprint, total energy, air impacts, and water impacts) or on related sustainability parameters, such as material type and manufacturing location.

  • Rank the parts in an assembly and quickly see which part contributes the most to the selected sorting criterion.

  • Use the Assembly Visualization tool to select all parts above a certain carbon footprint, or select all parts fabricated in ABS plastic, to view and modify their sustainability parameters.

  • Use Assembly Visualization tools to capture images for use in your sustainability reports.




Request a trial of SolidWorks Sustainability

Stay Connected

Go to top