Microsoft’s LCA methodology with Makersite

Automated modeling of complex electronic products at scale.

Consumer goods and electronicsSustainability

“[With Makersite] we are efficiently scaling up our LCAs so our engineers can focus on designing the best and most sustainable products instead of only focusing on disclosures.“

Kelly Stumbaugh, Microsoft

Kelly Stumbaugh

Director Devices, Ecodesign, Ecolabels, and Carbon Emissions at Microsoft

What you’ll learn

  • Microsoft has partnered with Makersite to transform their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology from directional modeling to a supply chain-specific environmental impact accounting process.
  • The new methodology automates and scales the modeling of complex electronic products with an unprecedented level of primary data coverage.
  • Makersite’s artificial intelligence analyzes the bill of material (BOM) of each device and the material composition from full material declarations (FMD) collected from suppliers to automatically model each part, component, and sub-assembly down to its actual chemical composition.
  • The benefits of Microsoft’s new methodology include improved quality and representativeness of the modeling of the product’s composition, better identification of environmental impact hotspots in the supply chain, and increased accuracy by reducing the inconsistencies associated with the LCA practitioners’ decisions.

The outcomes

  • The percentage of the total carbon footprint calculated based on suppliers’ primary data went from an average of 20% in the previous LCA methodology to close to 50% with the new methodology
  • Microsoft works with Makersite to implement eco-design by transforming their LCAs from directional modeling to a supply chain-specific environmental impact accounting process 
  • Microsoft published its LCA 2.0 methodology process which is powered by Makersite’s AI, data and apps to support product and supply chain decisions

Ecodesign balancing cost, environment and compliance criteria

At Microsoft, actions to reduce the environmental impacts of activities are driven by data. They achieve reductions in the carbon footprint of Surface, Xbox, and other products by implementing a structured Ecodesign approach that balances design decisions based on technical, economic, and environmental considerations. 

To quantify the environmental impacts of devices and measure improvements, Microsoft uses Life Cycle Assessment (short: LCA). LCA is the systematic assessment of environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of a product, process, or service. In their new methodology for LCAs, Microsoft is working together with Makersite, to automate and scale the modeling of their complex electronic products.  

 

An innovative approach to LCA

To transform their LCAs from being a purely directional modeling process to a more supply chain-specific environmental impact accounting process, Microsoft has invested in an innovative approach leveraging internal software engineering teams and Makersite to power sustainable products and supply chain decisions at scale. The new approach was created to automate and scale the modeling of complex electronic products with an unprecedented level of primary data coverage. The key differentiation from common practices is that Makersite’s artificial intelligence analyzes the bill of material (BOM) of each device and the material composition from full material declarations (FMD) collected from suppliers to automatically model each part, component, and sub-assembly down to its actual chemical composition. A model of a representative manufacturing process is associated with each part in the BOM using data from Makersite, IDEA, and Ecoinvent, cutting out much of the manual effort and providing our LCA practitioners a running start. Effective scaling up of this modeling is enabled by the integration of Microsoft’s product data management system with Makersite. While their LCA experts are still involved in the process, they can now focus on completing the model with suppliers’ primary data, performing the quality analysis, and ensuring the model is representative. 

 

The benefits of Microsoft’s new methodology

  • Improved quality and representativeness of the modeling of the product’s composition leveraging full material declarations shared by the suppliers parts are modeled down to their chemical composition by leveraging supplier-provided full material declarations, with data quality checks performed by Microsoft LCA practitioners 
  • A disaggregated model that enables the progressive replacement of secondary datasets by supplier-specific (primary) data to model manufacturing processes
  • The percentage of the total carbon footprint calculated based on suppliers’ primary data went from an average of 20% in the previous LCA methodology (a level representative of most complete LCAs) to close to 50% with the new methodology. 
  • Increased accuracy by reducing the inconsistencies associated with the LCA practitioners’ decisions, such as the choice of datasets 
  • Reduction of the modeling time allowing Microsoft to focus their efforts on collecting and processing suppliers’ primary data and performing data quality assurance and data analysis 
  • Better identification of environmental impact hotspots in the supply chain 
  • Enable the measurement of benefits associated with a potential increase in product lifespan due to repairability 

Want to learn more about Microsofts methodology, how they will transition into it and how they are promoting transparency of their products? Read the full report by Microsoft here.

“By using automation and our AI, Makersite made it possible for Microsoft to analyze data at an unprecedented speed and scale. We’re proud of our collaboration and happy to accompany Microsoft on its way to reduce its environmental impact through actionable data.”

Fabian Hassel

Fabian Hassel

VP of Services at Makersite and project leader for the Microsoft collaboration