Robust Design & the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) - RD8

Robust Design & the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG)


Robust Design & CO2 Protocol

Robust design is a means to reduce CO2 emissions. The section below will bring perspectives on how to reduce CO2 emissions by robust design. The RD8 services targets scope 2 and 3 (none of the services affect scope 1).

RD8 sustainability levers – 5 levers to reduce CO2 emissions by design.

RD8 CO2 emissions reduction levers

Details of each lever are described in the table below and the sections further down on this page.

The intended effect of the RD8 Robust Design levers is shown in the graph below.

CO2 reduction effect by RD8 robust design optimization of products

The intend is to lower primarily scope 2 and scope 3 emissions by Robust Design product and production system optimizations. For more info about the baseline have a look here.

The effect of CO2 reductions are product dependent. See examples of the drivers for CO2 effects in the sections below and in the sub-articles for more in-depth information.

The table below shows Robust Design services for engineering professionals to lower CO2 emissions by design.

Production process change
Scope 2

CO2 reductions by change to less CO2 consuming part-manufacturing processes


Production efficiency
Scope 2

CO2 reductions by producing more with the same. Lowers CO2 emissions per product made.


CO2 reductions by material replacement
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by material replacement. See more here.


Optimization of over engineered designs
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by material optimization (less kg material used per product).


Scrap reduction
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by preventing material waste in production.


Dis- & re-assembly
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by increased product lifetime by enablement of product disassembly and reassembly.


Spare parts & service enablement
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by increased lifetime. CO2 emissions per year is lowered as product lifetime is increased.


Increase product lifetime
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by increased lifetime. CO2 emissions per year is lowered as product lifetime is increased.


Energy optimization
Scope 3

CO2 reductions by increased product efficiency.



The Greenhouse Gas Protocol

Setting the scene.

The standards within the GHG Protocol are the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards. It provides a framework for businesses, governments, and other entities to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions in ways that support their missions and goals.  

CO2 emissions

Scope 1, 2 & 3

From an operations point of view, CO2 emissions are classified by “scope 1, 2 and 3” – defined by Greenhouse Gas Protocol and often referred to – e.g. by EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) – illustrated below by GHGP.

RD8 supports "Reporting companies" to lower emissions in primarily Scope 2 and Scope 3.

Scope 2

Scope 2: How Robust Design plays a central role in lowering energy consumption in production by mechanical design

Lowering of CO2 emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating & cooling.

Scope 2 - Production process change

New requirements

Reduction of tolerance requirements can enable low energy production processes

Being aware of production processes energy and CO2 emissions can be a source to lower CO2 emissions.

Scope 2 - Production efficiency

Eased tolerances

Reduction of tolerance requirements enables more energy efficient operations

Lowering of production demands reduces energy used per product. If 4 parts can be made instead of one in a production cycle - e.g. injection molding, stamping, or similar the energy per unit is typically lowered. The same goes for if cycle time can be lowered meaning the machine output is increased. The trick to achieving this is to lower the requirement for tolerances. Increasing speed or number of products per cycle typically results in less accurate parts. By applying robust design principles the requirements to accuracy and tolerance demands are lowered for the product and hence lower energy consumption can be achieved.

Scope 3

Scope 3: Reduction of scope 3 CO2 emissions by robust design

Lowering of CO2 emissions form processing energy, scrap & use of sold products.

Scope 3: CO2 reductions by material replacement

Eased tolerances

Eased tolerances enables use of new green materials

The technical effect of a robust design application is typically eased- and fewer tolerances - which can be utilized to enable production with green or recycled materials which have less good mechanical properties.

Scope 3: Optimization of over engineered designs

RD8 - Performance benefits by robust design

Less material use by reduction of over engineering

In over complex designs force paths are not clear - and internal stresses are present due to part- and assembly variation. To compensate for this the solution is often to add extra material in the product design. By applying robust design the force paths will be clear and reduction of internal stresses in components can be achieved, which opens a window for optimization - if utilized - this results in less material use.

Scope 3: Scrap reduction

RD8 Consistent quality by robust design
Predictability & Consistency

Eased tolerances, consistent quality and increased predictability of product functions results in less material scrap on the shop floor

One of the major gains of robust design is repeatability and fewer demands on parts and assembly. The benefit of this is that less material and parts will be scrapped in the QA process and hence less material waste can be gained.

Scope 3: Dis- & re-assembly

Stress free designs

Stress free designs enables reuse and increased lifetime of products

In over constraint interfaces and assemblies, internal stresses arise due to part-to-part variation in some samples. Internal stresses often lead to deformed parts or that parts will break/deform during disassembly - this limits the possibility of reuse. By robust design internal stresses can be avoided and hence disassembly without deformation/break of parts can be obtained. This enables the reuse of products and hereby increases the lifetime and lowers the CO2 emissions per year as product lifetime is increased.

Scope 3: Spare parts & service enablement


Modular robust design enabling replacement of modules and spare parts

Ensuring serviceability and use of spare parts can increase product lifetime and hereby CO2 reductions per year as product lifetime can be increased. In some designs, spare parts are so delicate that spare parts cannot be used as a need for mix 'n' match. In other cases wear or exposed parts cannot be replaced as they are a part of the key structure of the product - for example, the screen of some smartphones are expensive to replace if it is broken due to how the rest of the smartphone construction is coupled (linked) to this part. By decoupled design, these links and dependencies can often be broken to enable serviceability.

Scope 3: Increase product lifetime

Stress free design

Stress free designs = increased product lifetime

Over constraint, design induces internal stresses in products. Internal stresses in moving mechanics are often the root cause to lower product life as parts with higher stresses are exposes to faster wear and tear. By Robust Design, internal stresses in products can be eliminated or lowered to achieve a longer lifespan of parts and products. This results in a longer product lifetime and thereby lower CO2 emissions per year for the products.

Scope 3: Energy optimization

Design clarity

Lower energy consumption in sold products can be achieved by kinematic design

Kinematic design is the foundation for RD8's robust design principles. One of the major benefits of a correct kinematic design is less internal stresses in moving parts and hence less friction in the system. The yield of this is that less energy has to be used to drive a product with moving parts - and hereby energy and CO2 consumption in sold products can be reduced.

Robustness Philosophy

Axiomatic design & classic robust design on top of a foundation of kinematic design.

Design for sensitivity, complexity reduction and decoupling – based on a kinematic design foundation.

RD8 Robust Design Philosophy