News from AU
September 18, 2020

Generative Design for Sustainability

Colleagues working

According to the Paris Agreement on climate, we need to reduce global carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 to hold long-term global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels. It’s an ambitious goal, attainable only if we get to work on a number of fronts.

One of those fronts is design—creating new products that are more sustainable and building in more sustainable ways. Generative design can be a valuable tool. Bringing algorithmic problem solving into the design process enables us to explore far more design possibilities than we could with human imagination and training alone. What’s more, because you as the designer establish the requirements and parameters for the process, you can steer the solutions based on the outcomes you have in mind.

In automotive manufacturing, that can mean redesigning parts to reduce mass and weight without sacrificing performance, helping to create more fuel-efficient cars. In a recent GreenBiz piece, Autodesk Sustainability Strategy Manager Zoé Bezpalko shared the role that generative design and other digital tools are playing in the development of the next wave of electric vehicles (EVs).

“With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. —Zoé Bezpalko, Sustainability Strategy Manager, Autodesk

Generative design can help with sustainable solutions in architecture too, like building with less concrete, which is a major source of CO2 emissions. Redshift recently reported on the work of Hone Structures, a resident in the Autodesk Technology Center in Toronto. Using generative design, computational BIM, and other digital tools, they’ve been able to design and fabricate reinforced concrete deep beams for construction that use 55% of the material used in traditional processes. The key is casting the concrete in computationally complex formwork that can only be created with generative design and 3D printing.

Want to learn more about how to design more sustainable products and buildings with generative design? Check out this AU content:

Rethinking Building Elements: Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing

Mania Meibodi has been pioneering the possibilities of computation for more sustainable architecture for years. In her AU 2019 Theater talk, she shares the process for the creation of a “smart slab” that uses 80% less concrete than a traditional slab. Like the Hone Structures team, she’s using formwork to create geometrically complex structures. “At the intersection of computation, digital fabrication, and material processes, we have a great possibility to contribute to a better and more sustainable society,” she says. Meibodi will be back in the Theater at AU 2020 to share progress on her ongoing research into sustainable approaches in architecture.

How Generative Design Can Make Your Product More Sustainable (and Help Your Company Make More Money)

Zoé Bezpalko explores the intricacies and economics of lightweighting products with generative design, showing how we can create more products that are not only more sustainable, but more cost effective, too.

Generative Design for Sustainability: Reducing Impact and Optimizing Your Workflow

What are the metrics to evaluate sustainability? What are the strategies that can help you implement and evaluate optimization? Sonia Travaglini shares her insights on working with generative design in Fusion 360.

Put Your Products on a Diet with Generative Design

Sit in on this panel discussion with the Autodesk Sustainability team and a number of thought leaders from across industries to learn how generative design can help you get more out of resource inputs and reduce waste.