The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a global industry group that’s standardizing social and environmental sustainability performance measurement, has launched the Higg Index Design & Development Module.

The Higg DDM will help enable product designers and developers to make sustainable choices at the earliest stage of apparel, footwear and textile prototype design, including material and manufacturing choices.

“Product designers and developers’ choices can influence over 80 percent of the environmental impact created by a product,” said Jason Kibbey, chief executive officer at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. “Empowering them with credible information to make better choices in the early stages of product creation can benefit the people and communities where the products are made, consumers and our environment as a whole.”

Designers have the most freedom to minimize eventual environmental impacts of the finished product at the earliest stage of the design process. The data collected through the Higg DDM, which replaces Higg’s Beta Rapid Design Module, helps steer them toward selecting lower impact materials, using more efficient construction techniques and considering the complete life cycle of the product.

After completing a product assessment, the Higg DDM provides members with a single design score, making it easy to compare design concepts and make quick decisions before production. The Higg DDM provides benchmarking and analytics that allow users to compare products or defined groups of products to each other, to company averages and to industry averages. Using the Higg DDM encourages continuous improvement by teaching designers and developers where they have the most control over the impact, and by giving feedback on how to improve their score.

“At Brooks, we are always looking at ways to improve our impact on the environment and communities where we run. The Higg DDM makes it possible for us to connect our product sustainability focus areas into a single tangible score so we can engage our product design team more directly with our sustainability goals,” said David Kemp, sustainability manager at Brooks Running Co. “With the scientifically driven MSI at the foundation of the tool, the DDM helps steer our product design teams toward more sustainable design choices that reduce our impact on the Earth.”

The Higg Product Tools include the Material Sustainability Index Contributor, the Higg MSI and now the Higg DDM. Each tool helps measure product environmental performance at different stages within the product-development cycle, from initial prototype to sourcing raw materials to final design.

SAC members have access to all Higg Index tools as part of their membership dues. Nonmembers can explore the Higg MSI at product.higg.org.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has 185 apparel, footwear and home textile brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, non-profit groups and academic institutions working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products around the world. SAC launched the Higg Index suite of tools in 2011.

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