Michael Betz, the CEO of international sustainability software giant PE INTERNATIONAL can relax a little. His dream which has driven him for over 17 years, and has consumed over 2000 man years of sustainability effort is at last complete with the release of GaBi 5, a ‘next-generation’ software which guarantees sustainability optimisation in every element of a manufacturing process. As he says; "GaBi 5 has been my personal obsession for so long and it feels good to let it out into the world at last. I am happy that thanks to the hard work, commitment and dedication of our research and consulting teams across the globe we can now build-in true sustainability performance for every manufactured item; from ground to market, from use to obsolescence, in recycling or re-use."
GaBi 5 models every element of a product or system from a life-cycle perspective, equipping businesses to make the best informed decisions on the manufacture and lifecycle of any product, everything from a mobile phone to a match-stick to an airport. It also provides an easily accessible and constantly refreshed content database, an encyclopaedic oracle that details the costs, energy and environmental impact of sourcing and refining every raw material or processed component of a manufactured item. In addition, it looks at the impact on the environment presenting alternative options for manufacturing, distribution, recyclability, pollution and sustainability. A further benefit is the mitigation of risk from companies, speculators and even governments who might seek to control and ‘corner’ scarce materials where GaBi databases offers viable, earth-friendly sustainable alternatives, ‘Rare Earth’ elements included.
Michael Betz, who has worked so long to deliver the vision of GaBi 5, continues; "Sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for industry but is now a ‘must have’ and not just because of an increasingly Eco and Sustainability aware population of consumers, but because it offers real competitive advantage and also allows manufacturers to bask in the warm glow of caring for our planet."
GaBi 5 makes it easy for businesses to carry out Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in order to protect their most precious asset; their brand. It also enables them to deliver more sustainable yet price-competitive products to match consumer expectations and become more resource efficient in a world of price rises and legislative obligations. GaBi 5 even helps them to cut costs by ensuring their supply chains are more efficient and all with a clear conscience, the ultimate feel-good for all involved with any organisation.
To deliver this, the software and research engineers at PE INTERNATIONAL have worked for over twenty years refining, testing and improving the product against a well-researched set of customer-focussed requirements. As a result, GaBi 5’s new database engine incorporates world-leading product sustainability intelligence; analyzing and interpreting global LCA databases on a ‘right here/right now’ demand basis.
Customers are entitled to automatic annual database updates as well as access to PE INTERNATIONAL’s dedicated teams of experts providing industry-specific sector data support. This ensures GaBi 5 keeps users up to speed with fast changing and sustainability-critical information. GaBi 5 is easy to use with an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), which combines built-in complex functionality algorithms, product-modelling, reporting, analytics, ‘What if’ scenario planning and communications enhancements – all designed specifically to help responsible businesses minimise their overall environmental impact by saving resources, reducing their emissions, pollution and energy footprint as well as reducing complexity and cutting costs.
To maximise benefit, even for smaller enterprises or LCA virgins, users can quickly see how both their organisation and our planet can benefit and this overview can be used throughout an organisation and on differing projects; separate yet conjoined. "Businesses that do not use LCA are vulnerable to risk from several directions," says Roland Clift, Professor of Environmental Technology in the Centre for Environmental Strategy (CES) at the University of Surrey and Executive Director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology; "These risks include the increasing amount of environmental legislation. Because the push towards integrated product policy in the EU is putting things on a life cycle basis, you will need a good idea of where your inputs come from and where your products go to after use."
Then comes the issue of operating costs associated with the growing number of schemes such as carbon trading and carbon levies. "Unless you know what your supply chain looks like, those shifts in cost are going to come up and bite you," says Professor Clift, adding, "for businesses, particularly those that manufacture, the old approach of procuring materials when needed and then scrapping what isn’t used will become a recipe for disaster in a world of greater demand for increasingly scarce materials such as rare earth metals."
Thus GaBi 5 offers the centralised source of product sustainability intelligence for an entire organisation. The software’s templates and design tools simplify LCA, while giving access to comprehensive data. Users can clearly evaluate results via an easy to read dashboard that can be either standardised or tailored to a company’s own requirements. Users can generate reports that can be read at a glance, interacted with, interrogated, shared and exported.
A key interactive tool which sits alongside GaBi 5 is GaBi Reader, which enables product designers and development engineers – as well as marketing and sustainability directors who have no LCA experience – to improve products and report on whole product portfolios. This intuitive, fast and easy solution will help businesses integrate LCA into their product development process, to quickly evaluate ‘what-if’ scenarios in product and process designs and to effectively communicate – both internally and externally – the environmental impacts of products.
By using GaBi 5 to enhance sustainability decision-making and LCA projects, businesses can build sustainable brands, which consumers increasingly prefer. They will gain consumer trust through quantified and verifiable information to substantiate their sustainability labelling and communications. Furthermore, giving consumers insight into a product’s sustainable attributes across its life cycle will help a brand achieve market leadership.
Quantifying the life-cycle impact of a product will also enable a company to assess its supply chain to identify product categories with the highest impacts; the drivers behind the product’s energy use, carbon footprint, waste and water footprint; and the hotspots where sustainability efforts can be concentrated. Organisations can set goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for product sustainability, building a more sustainable portfolio.
Michael Betz, CEO of PE INTERNATIONAL, concludes: "GaBi 5 and Databases provide the delivery of the ‘sustainability dream’ in an increasingly populous and polluted world. It allows easy access to the quality of data essential in making key strategic sustainability decisions and offers users the capabilities to communicate substantiated information externally. Moreover, GaBi 5 is the essential tool for meeting the escalating demands from customers and regulators for improved environmental performance and greater transparency of sustainability. By evaluating new products and solutions based on environmental benefits and cost implications, companies can develop well conceived portfolios that drive revenue growth, integrate sustainability into the product development process and, most importantly, tread gently on our home planet."