What is green engineering?

Today’s manufacturers make decisions that can have a significant impact on the future of the environment and the people within it. There are solutions that enable ‘eco-friendly’ product development processes which lessen an organization’s carbon footprint.

Green Engineering is the practice of leveraging PLM data not only to help calculate the C02 footprint of a product but also to evaluate design and supply chain decisions with sustainability in mind.

Why is sustainability important in engineering?

A great sustainability strategy requires real actions. When designing a product, engineers must take into consideration the environmental impact of the processes and materials used.

In addition to the social and environmental good they generate, green strategies can also have tremendous business benefits including:

  • Reduction of raw materials and energy consumption
  • Increased top- and bottom-line through recycling and reuse programs
  • Ability to compete in markets with increasingly comprehensive and strict environment, health, and safety regulations
  • Improved brand reputation and goodwill
  • Improved company culture and employee engagement

Watch our video to learn how PTC’s portfolio of digital thread solutions help industrial companies drive their sustainability initiatives.

Disciplines of green engineering: PLM and the digital thread

There are many disciplines and tools that can support green engineering initiatives. Key among them include:

  • Design for sustainability

    Design for sustainability takes a holistic view of the products impact on the customer and the environment through its lifecycle. For example, it is in the early stages of product development when material selections are made that can optimize energy consumption, manufacturing waste, and recyclability properties.
  • Assembly and disassembly design

    Assembly and disassembly design is one way to maximize the value of a product while minimizing harmful impacts. By designing products that are easy to assemble and disassemble, manufacturers can ensure the product can be recycled or its components reused as efficiently as possible at the end of its lifecycle.
  • Generative design

    Generative design enables designers to assess various materials, evaluating what works best and is more sustainable (such as metal vs plastic). They can then visualize the best option and best combination of materials and design that fits the team’s sustainability goals. Generative design also improves the design and engineering processes by using cloud simulation, which reduces the need for iterative physical prototyping, saving time and material waste.
  • Manufacturing resource optimization

    Certain products can have tens of thousands of parts. These parts are created from raw materials that in most cases, are extracted from the earth. Green engineering helps manufacturers optimize material usage with as little waste as possible.
  • Closed-loop engineering

    To improve sustainability requires a deeper understanding of the full impact of a product. A digital twin—the digital model that represents its physical counterpart and is connected to its measurement data—can enable the tracking of a product through its lifecycle. This information can be used to identify reuse and recycling opportunities, and to inform more sustainable design decisions for the next generation of products.

A systems approach to green engineering

With PLM, everything from the products’ parts and components to its electrical, mechanical, and software systems are supported and managed based on a single source of truth. By leveraging this product data more broadly, manufacturers can automate and standardize sustainable processes and provide insights in real-time. This not only results in more environmentally friendly practices with public health benefits but also increases cost-effectiveness and efficiency.


Waste Reduction

A digital thread provides complete data about a product and its parts. Manufacturers can utilize this to select and design products with recyclable parts which minimizes waste, increasing recyclability and revenue.

Materials Management

By creating a circular lifecycle plan that enables materials management, your organization can use less, use better, and use again, as well as manage supplier and parts classification of sustainable materials.

Pollution Prevention

Sustainable engineering along with a green PLM strategy helps manufacturers minimize the depletion of natural resources by reusing materials and eliminating waste. This protects nature while safeguarding human health.

Product Enhancement

Green processes enabled by a digital thread allow products and their lifecycles to be designed sustainably. Real-time product data is used to manufacture a product, making it less prone for errors and recalls.

PLM capabilities to support green engineering

Concurrent Engineering
Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)
Supplier and Component Management
Parts Classification

Concurrent Engineering

Design and develop products sustainably by connecting globally distributed design and engineering teams for a seamless workflow. By working more efficiently while tracking and tracing all design data, this information can be used when a product must be recycled.

Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)

MBSE applies modeling, tools, and methods to improve your systems engineering programs and projects. Product simulations can highlight potential failures before a physical product is built, avoiding scrap and waste. Manufacturing simulations can also help reduce energy and material usage during product generation. MBSE provides support by optimizing the use of resources to be more sustainable while complying with industry standards.

Supplier and Component Management

Enable supplier collaboration with vendors and partners that align with your green engineering goals. Sometimes, buyers and engineers struggle to understand supply chain dependencies, offerings, and overall supplier sustainability vision. By leveraging out-of-the-box processes for global supplier management, your organization can partner with suppliers that are also doing their part to help protect the environment.

Parts Classification

Product complexity leads to thousands of parts. Often times many are duplicates because engineers can’t find what they need, when they need it. Parts classification helps engineers find and reuse parts, so material usage is optimized, duplicate parts are avoided, and waste is minimized. This approach helps reduce scrap, energy consumption, and drives costs down.

The Sustainability Imperative: PLM for Green Engineering

Sustainable manufacturing is creating new opportunities for businesses and the planet alike. Learn how utilizing PLM for green engineering creates a foundation for a successful sustainability program in this eBook from industry analyst CIMdata.

Read the E-book

Customer Successes

Learn how these companies have adopted a PLM-enabled digital thread to meet their sustainability initiatives.


Learn how the “Most Sustainable Company in the World” utilizes PLM and digitization to support sustainability initiatives past, present, and future.

Watch the Interview


Hear ZF share how Windchill PLM is helping them reach sustainability initiatives and carbon neutrality.

Watch the Interview


Learn how HP aims to be one of the most sustainable and unbiased technology companies and read about their vision for planet, people, and community.

Read Their Story


Learn how Electrolux Professional’s commitment to sustainability is driving their digital transformation strategy.

Read Their Story
Learn More About Windchill

Windchill for green engineering

Windchill, as a global PLM platform for collaboration, can enable green product lifecycle management, including the necessary governance, cybersecurity, and open architecture. By leveraging product data more broadly, Windchill can help manufacturers automate and standardize sustainable processes and provide insights in real-time.