Evaluating open hardware from an ecological economics perspective

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Summary: This project will involve a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of “designed global, manufactured local” (DGML) products from an ecological economics perspective. We will conduct a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of 2-3 DGML technological solutions (e.g. a house, an open source 3D printer, a wireless data transmission, field sensor node). LCA will include an assessment of the energy and material uses of the product from cradle to grave, including during its use and operation. This will be compared against the life-cycle of a conventional technology. Different states will be distinguished, such as extraction of materials, production, transport, disposal of equipment, and the environmental impacts of each assessed. For the assessment, the CML 2 baseline 2000 will be used. Qualitative assessment will be based on observations of the application of the technology, interviews and focus groups such as farmers or makers. Technologies will be compared according to three key criteria for sustainability: (a) “autonomy”; (b) “resilience”; (c) “ecological adaptability”. The end result will be an actual comparison of the environmental and social costs and benefits of the applied technologies, as well as the development of a prototype approach for an ecological-economic evaluation of any DGML solution. Last but not least, this task will provide research and policy proposals in relation to the environmental performance of DGML products, and their implications in terms of resource and energy use, as well as their sustainability in a possible future of resource scarcity and altered environmental conditions.

Participants: Alekos Pantazis, Christina Priavolou & Vasilis Kostakis.

This is part of P2P Lab’s 2016-2019 strategic project.

This project was based on extensive discussions with Giorgos Kallis.