The new Higg Index Design and Development Module (DDM)  will make it easier to compare design concepts and make quick decisions before production begins

The new Higg Index Design and Development Module (DDM) will make it easier to compare design concepts and make quick decisions before production begins

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has expanded its Higg Index to include a tool to help product designers and developers make sustainable choices at the earliest stage of apparel, footwear and textile prototype design.

Following a simple product assessment the Higg Index Design and Development Module (DDM) provides a single design score, aimed at making it easier to compare design concepts and make quick decisions before production.

The idea of the tool is to provide useful benchmarking and analytics that allow users to compare products or defined groups of products with each other, company averages and industry averages. SAC hopes use of the Higg DDM will encourage continuous improvement by teaching designers and developers where they have the most control over the impact, and by giving rapid feedback on how to improve their score.

"Product designers and developers' choices can influence over 80% of the environmental impact created by a product," says Jason Kibbey, CEO 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."

The data collected through the Higg DDM, which replaces Higg's beta Rapid Design Module, helps steer designers toward selecting lower impact materials, using more efficient construction techniques, and considering the complete life cycle of the product.

David Kemp, sustainability manager for Brooks Running Company, which is using the new tool, adds: "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. With the scientifically driven MSI [Material Sustainability Index] at the foundation of the tool, the DDM helps steer our product design teams towards more sustainable design choices that reduce our impact on the earth."

The Material Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Higg MSI Contributor help measure product environmental performance at different stages within the product development cycle, from initial prototype to sourcing raw materials to final design.

The new development follows last month's inclusion of a new 'adoption and analytics' service to the Higg Index as part of a collaboration with sustainability consultancy Anthesis. The new Higg Index Adoption tool provides management and monitoring of supplier progress from end-to-end, in addition to interactive dashboards to illustrate engagement and adoption rates at an individual factory level. 

SAC Higg Index to add new adoption and analytics tools