Many products and services have undergone a process of “greenification”. If it can reduce the size of your carbon footprint, or increase your enjoyment in a more energy-efficient manner, odds on a product sells well.
Engineering software companies have not been slow to jump on the bandwagon. But the message goes beyond cynical marketing ploys. Unlike schemes that offset the carbon emissions of frequent flyers, or the latest energy-efficient flat-screen TV, engineers shape not just the products and services we use, but also buildings and infrastructure. The tools they use to design these things, CAD/CAM modelling software, simulation software such as computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis packages and even product lifecycle management (PLM),
need to reflect environmental goals if society is to overcome challenges such as climate change.
Autocad publisher Autodesk approaches what it terms the “clean tech” sector by simply offering its software free to new companies in the sector. It helps these companies promote their work and has created an internet community so they can swap ideas.
Start-ups can receive a grant of up to €120,000 for Autodesk software. Five hundred companies have taken advantage of the scheme: about 300 in the US, where it launched last year, and 200 in Europe, where it launched earlier this year. Companies signing up to Autodesk’s Clean Tech Partner Programme can get up to five licences for Autocad Inventor, Showcase, Vault Professional, Revit Architecture, Alias Design or Algor Simulation.
The Clean Tech Partner Programme allows Autodesk to move into a burgeoning sector. Erwin Burth, business development manager for clean tech at Autodesk, says: “These are very young companies that couldn’t afford this sophisticated software otherwise and it enables them to bring their products to market much faster.
“To help society with the environmental challenges we face is an important part of the business. As a company we can change the way we operate to reduce our carbon footprint. We can also make a bigger impact by helping our clients make more sustainable products.”
Clean tech can be found across all sectors, he adds, and includes companies developing devices for energy efficiency, renewables technology, more efficient use of materials, or recycling. Companies in the programme range from those making components for wind turbines and solar panels to those developing processes for recycling tyres.
Cleaner Air Solutions develops solar photovoltaic systems for the domestic and commercial market. According to Andy Craddock, operations manager, it joined the programme because it was working more on custom designs and needed 3D design and engineering software to do the job efficiently and cost-effectively. He says: “The need to work in 3D has become increasingly important to us.
“Inventor and Showcase, for example, allow us to develop innovative products, dramatically reduce project risk and overall project lifecycles, and drive rapid but well-informed decisions on design projects by developing high-quality visualisations.”