Environmentally conscious design is focused on reducing the environmental impact of engineered systems, but common practice in life cycle analysis overlooks the relationship between a product’s usage-context and its environmental performance. Existing studies rarely consider operational variability or the correlation between performance, design, and usage variables. Probabilistic graphical models (PGMs) provide the capability of not only evaluating uncertainty and variability of product use, but also correlating the results with the product’s features and usage context. This discussion explores the use of PGMs as a tool for evaluating operational variability in products and including the results in life cycle inventories. The tool is illustrated for environmentally conscious product design through an example study of an electric kettle.

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