Global concerns about climate change and resource management have escalated the need for sustainable consumer products. In light of this, sustainable design methodologies that supplement the product design process are needed. Current research focuses on developing sustainable design curricula, adapting classical design methods to accommodate environmental sustainability, and sustainability tools that are applicable during the early design phase. However, concurrent work suggests that sustainability-marketed and innovative products still lack a reduction of environmental impact compared to conventional products. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has proven to be an exceptional tool used to assess the environmental impact of a realized product. However, LCA is a reactive tool that does not proactively reduce the environmental impact of novel product concepts. Here we develop a novel methodology, the PeeP method, using historical product LCA data with kernel density estimation to provide an estimated environmental impact range for a given product design. The PeeP method is tested using a series of case studies exploring four different products. Results suggest that probability density estimations developed through this method reflect the environmental impact of the product at both the product and component level. In the context of sustainable design research, the PeeP method is a viable methodology for assessing product design environmental impact prior to product realization. Our methodology can allow designers to identify high-impact components and reduce the cost of product redesign in practice.

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