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Centre for Sustainable Design offers SMEs free “brainstorming” session

Emily Smoucha
11th April 2011
The Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) is working with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the South East to explore different technological options to green their businesses.
The CfSD helps businesses by identifying low carbon and resource efficient alternatives for their products and services. Its developed a programme called GreenThink!, which is being made available free to South East SMEs.

The process
GreenThink! is described as a "brainstorming" process which puts small businesses in front of a team knowledgeable in design engineering, product design, marketing, strategy and sustainability. Together, they determine the potential obstacles as well as opportunities the client will encounter while greening the business. After the workshop, the company will have a strategy for how to reduce their environmental impacts while helping its business expand, according to Martin Charter, CfSD director, who has devised the programme.

"The greening of the UK economy — now given a boost by active Government encouragement — is creating hard, commercial opportunities for low carbon, resource efficient products, technologies and services across the industrial spectrum," said Charter.

Companies that have used the GreenThink! programme to date include solar company Solarpack (UK) Ltd, architects and interior designers HPW Partnership Ltd and Hampshire Cosmetics Ltd.

"The GreenThink process provided focus and direction on how to introduce sustainability into our product design process. It provided a great opportunity to get a cross departmental group together to brainstorm 'product sustainability' and thrash out what it really means for our business," commented Karen Taylor, Environmental Development Manager, Hampshire Cosmetics Ltd.

The CfSD is an initiative of the University for the Creative Arts that works primarily on issues of sustainable innovation and eco-design management. The centre has conducted research on eco-design, manufacturing, packaging, supply chain management, developing business models, product policy and sustainable consumption and production.

Through its work, the CfSD has worked with AEA Technology, the Department of Trade & Industry, the European Commission, and the South East England Development Agency, among others.

CfDS will be holding a workshop in Guildford on April 18 that will use the GreenThink! process and which is available to SMEs and social enterprises in the South East.

The workshop will include information on how to identify areas to increase income, potential roadblocks, developing commercialisation plans and marketing strategies.

"The OpenGreen Innovation Workshop provides timely advice from experienced experts on how to maximise those opportunities," Charter said.

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