Measuring Environmental Impact with SOLIDWORKS Sustainability– Task Pane

In this article, we are going to talk about the Task Pane in the SOLIDWORKS Sustainability tool. Like some of the other functions, Sustainability launches into the task pane in order for you to set parameters. The Task Pane view that appears depends on the model you have open in the graphics area, and like all the others, it's organized into sections that you can expand to see more. You can also get real-time feedback about the environmental impact of designs.

When you have a single part open, the task pane appears with the Material section at the top for you to select the part's material. The first drop-down menu would specify the material class while the second drop-down allows you to specify one of the available names of the material.

Material Class Drop-down Menu

Name Drop-down Menu



Once these parameters are set, the task pane displays information on the Recycled content and Weight underneath the name drop-down menu. The Find Similar button allows you to select a new material or compare similar materials. Set Material assigns the selected material to the active configuration and applies it to all other aspects of SOLIDWORKS such as mass properties, rendering, etc.

The Manufacturing section sets items such as:


Region of manufacture (North America, Europe, Asia, etc.)

Built to Last

Specifies the length of time the part will last.


Sets manufacturing process based on the selected material class

Paint Options

You choose whether to calculate the environmental impact of the type of paint process


The Use section only allows you to specify the region of where the part or product will be transported to or used in, while the Transportation section sets the method of transport (Train, Truck, Boat, or Plane) and the distance traveled.


The End of Life section shows default percentages for the end of life disposal of the part. These are based on the part-s material in the sustainability database. The total of the percentages always equals %100 and they are editable in the full Sustainability module.


The final section in the task pane is the Environmental Impact dashboard. This section provides real-time, color-coded, pie chart feedback about the environmental impact of the design.


There are 5 color codes in the pie charts quantifying the impact of your selections of Material, Use, Transportation, Manufacturing, End of Life, and Duration of Use to the default environmental areas. The Environmental areas are as follows:

Carbon Footprint

A measure of carbon dioxide and equivalents, such as carbon monoxide and methane, that are released into the atmosphere primarily by burning fossil fuels.

Energy Consumption

All forms of nonrenewable energy consumed over the entire life cycle of the product.

Air Acidification

Acidic emissions, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides, which eventually lead to acid rain.

Water Eutrophication

Contamination of water ecosystems by waste water and fertilizers, resulting in algae blooms and the eventual death of plant and animal life.

Bars compare the Financial Impact of the current and previous materials you have selected. A green bar indicates that the current material has a lower financial impact. A red bar indicates a higher financial impact. An arrow beside the bars indicates the percentage of change.


When working with an assemblyone difference is the task list appears if you don't have a material assigned to your components. At that point, you'll have to specify that info.


Once the materials are assigned and you view the results, it shows you all of the same information for the assembly that was already mentioned during the parts section. Additionally, if you select one of the components within the assembly, you can go through and set the same parameters for that component individually.


We hope this series gives you some good insight to the new SOLIDWORKS Sustainability product.  Please check back to the CATI Blog as the Dedicated Support Team will continue posting new series of articles every month that go further into the details of many of the SOLIDWORKS tools. All of these articles will be stored in the category of Daily Dose…..of SOLIDWORKS Support and links to each article with their release date are listed below:

George Brañes

Support Engineer

Computer Aided Technology


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