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08:30-10:00 Session 6A: Methods 1
Location: 2311
Chemical Exposure and Toxicity Estimation Methods within Human Health Impact Assessment

ABSTRACT. Within Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA), characterization factors (CFs) for chemically- mediated human health (HH) impacts are a combination of exposure and toxicity. In the widely used USEtox LCIA framework, exposure is characterized via modeled intake fractions which are focused on far-field chemical releases, and toxicity is characterized via effect factors, which have been derived from experimental toxicity studies [1]. This method is thus limited to chemicals without near-field releases and to those with empirically derived toxicity factors and is not applicable to chemicals with little or no effect data available. This poses a challenge for incorporating HH impacts into LCIA, especially during the product design phase when focusing on newly developed chemicals or chemical alternatives. We explore incorporating advances near-field exposure modeling and chemical toxicity estimation techniques into HH impact assessment.

In recent years, the EPA developed the Toxicity Forecaster (ToxCast) [2] program, which uses high-throughput in vitro assay methods to estimate chemical bioactivity for thousands of chemicals without the use of animals. Computational models can be used to estimate chemical toxicity, for example using quantitative structure activity relationships (QSARs). An example of this is the Toxicity Estimation Software Tool (TEST) [3], also developed at the EPA, which allows for rapid chemical toxicity estimation based on chemical structure properties. The bioactivities derived from ToxCast have been combined with pharmacokinetic and exposure modeling to rank and prioritize chemicals for risk assessment, and this type of analysis may lend itself to LCIA techniques, which are comparative in nature [4]. Using computer modeled toxicities, however, may provide the most practical solution for a priori HH effect factor predictions, which could be used with modeled exposure factors to derive CFs.

As exposure is also a key component of HH CFs, we also discuss the inclusion of use-phase near-field sources in LCIA. This requires incorporating advances in rapid near-field exposure modeling and source characterization. We present a decision-tree framework outlining proposed steps needed to enhance HH CF modeling incorporating new techniques to rapidly estimate chemical exposure and effects.  





4. Wetmore et al. 2012, Toxicological Sciences, 125(1), 157–174

Allocation, a question of perspective
SPEAKER: Shelly Martin

ABSTRACT. Green Carbon has developed a thermal vacuum recovery (TVR) system to recycle on-road and off-road tires and tracks and process them into high carbon steel, carbon black, two grades of fuel feedstocks and a hydrocarbon-rich gas (process gas), which is used to heat the process. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to examine the life cycle impacts of the TVR process relative to conventional tire disposal in an incinerator or landfill, as well as to quantify the production of several useful co-products generated in the TVR process.

Attributional LCA was used to analyze the TVR system from multiple vantage points to understand the TVR system from an operating perspective, as a disposal service for waste tires and as a production method for fuel feedstocks. This comparative LCA study, which underwent an ISO compliant panel critical review, included the use of midpoint (TRACI) and damage (ReCiPe Endpoint) categories. In addition, Monte Carlo simulations were used to understand the statistical reliability of the results with respect to the data quality, and results were only reported if they were consistent across 95% or more of the comparative simulations.

In the TVR process, there are many co-products or services provided: disposal of used tires, production of light fuel feedstock, production of heavy fuel feedstock, production of carbon black and production of steel. Depending upon the functional unit, the other products and/or services are modeled through system boundary expansion. To put this another way, to determine the impact of our functional unit, we subtract the impacts of the co-products as currently produced in the market today, or offset their production. When considering TVR as a disposal service, traditional production of heavy fuel feedstock, light fuel feedstock, carbon black and steel are avoided, that is their impacts are subtracted from the total impact of the TVR process (Figure 1). In this way, we are modeling the TVR for its service of disposing of tires.

Figure 1: System expansion for evaluating impacts of disposing of tires and/or tracks

When considering TVR as a production process, the co-products are again avoided by using system expansion, then the heavy and light fuel feedstocks are allocated based on energy content (see Figure 2). In this case, the production of the fuel feedstocks also produces carbon black, steel wire and disposes of tires, so the impacts of the production of carbon black, steel wire and landfilling tires are subtracted from the TVR process to get the impacts of fuel production.

Figure 2: System expansion for evaluating impacts of producing of fuel feedstock

Another allocation comes in when considering the biogenic source of some of the tire carbon. Between 45% and 80% of tire rubber comes from natural latex. Further, approximately half of a tire’s organic matter is rubber, which would indicate that between 23% and 40% of the carbon going into the oils would be organically based. Considering the bio-based content of the original tire, there is also a bio-based component to these fuels, as confirmed by the carbon testing data.

We also compared the TRV process as a production process for four co-products and compared it with conventional production. The results for ozone depletion and global warming using TRACI 2.1 are shown in figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Comparative contribution of processing 15,000 lbs of scrap tires via the TVR process without co-products vs. conventional product of co-products, using TRACI 2.1

LCA practitioners are sometimes given the impression that there is only one way to allocate. In this study, we show that by allocating differently, we can answer different questions. This study answered the question of what are the environmental impacts of the TVR process for different stakeholders. Whether a stakeholder is considering the disposal of old tires, fuel feedstock production or carbon black production, this study was allocated to answer the appropriate question.

Green Carbon set about to develop the TVR process based on the request of its customers and others who needed a responsible way to dispose of their tires. As OTR Wheel Engineering (Green Carbon’s parent company) is a major supplier of off-road tires, supporting its customers at end-of-life is considered good business, as well as good product stewardship. Green Carbon is continuing to refine and improve the TVR process and is currently undergoing an addendum to this LCA with updated data.

Monte Carlo sampling in the presence of dependent variables

ABSTRACT. Evaluation of uncertainty in LCA can be done through the help of Monte Carlo simulation. This method becomes less straightforward to apply in the presence of dependent variables. This presentation introduces the application of the Dirichlet distribution to deal with specific instances of dependent variables in LCA. On the LCI side, dependent variable appear within a unit process that distributes demand for a product to different suppliers (in ecoinvent, a “market” dataset). The sum of the different suppliers has to be equal to 1, making each contribution dependent on one another. In LCIA, the sum of each regionalized fate factor should not exceed 1. The first challenge in these situation is to construct distributions that reflect the dependence. The Dirichlet distribution is the multivariate generalization of the beta distribution, which has a lower and upper bound, appropriate for that kind of application. The average of each variable is specified. Then, the parameter controlling the variance of the distributions is chosen. The second challenge is to integrate the sampling to the rest of the Monte Carlo. Algorithms are already available in statistical software to make sure the sum of each iteration remains equal to 1. The sampling for this part of the model has to be generated separately and stored to be used during the sampling of the whole model. Preliminary results on simplified models show that not respecting the dependence relationship leads to an overestimation of the uncertainty of the result. A more careful application of the Monte Carlo method is therefore more likely to lead to statistically significant differences in LCIA scores and increasing the discriminating power of LCA.

Uncertainty analysis in LCA using aggregated datasets: making it possible by accounting for correlations
SPEAKER: Pascal Lesage

ABSTRACT. Aggregated LCI datasets represent cradle-to-gate LCI (or even sometimes LCIA results) of products. They are notably used in simplified LCA tools because they make calculations simpler and faster. However, uncertainty analysis techniques found in current LCA software are nonsensical if they use aggregated datasets, unless one accounts for different types of correlation. We distinguish between and show how to deal with three types of correlations: 1) Correlations within aggregated datasets. Aggregated datasets are product systems, made up of unit processes. Unit processes can appear many times (e.g. there are multiple instances of “truck transport”). Sometimes, these different instances in a product system also represent different instances in reality (e.g. “truck transport” unit processes represent different trips in reality, with different trucks). Normally, in LCA software, the same parameter value is sampled for all instances of a unit process during Monte Carlo analysis. We propose an algorithm that distinguishes between instances of a unit process and decorrelates these instances during uncertainty analysis. Results using ecoinvent 2.2 show that decorrelated product systems generally have slightly lower uncertainty. 2) Correlations across aggregated datasets in a given product system. Aggregated datasets are usually built using the same basic building blocks (unit processes). Different aggregated datasets used to construct a given product system therefore cannot be considered independent. We propose an algorithm that calculates the covariance between all aggregated datasets produced for a given database. These covariances can then be used in the estimation of system-wide uncertainty using analytical error propagation (via Taylor series expansion). Results, again based on ecoinvent v2.2 aggregated datasets, show that correlations across aggregated datasets can significantly influence calculated uncertainty. 3) Correlations across product systems in a comparative LCA. Aggregated datasets representing a given product in two compared scenario sometimes represent the same instance (same input, same source), sometimes not (similar input, different source). We propose a method to tackle the scenario comparison problem in analytical error propagation and apply it on an illustrative example comparing a beef vs. veggie burger. The methods presented should help software developers who favour aggregated LCI datasets to start allowing sensible and system-wide uncertainty analyses.

08:30-10:00 Session 6B: Industry

This session presents a spectrum of applications of life cycle assessment (LCA) in various industries, such as pet services, chemical manufacturing, lighting, and packaging.  In addition to learning the results of the LCA applications, the audience will take away examples to support internal and external decision making for sustainability including across the value chain, product eco-design efforts, commercial engagement, manufacturing, and customers and the general public. 

Key Discussion Points:

  1.  When engaging internal and external stakeholders using Life Cycle Assessment, what do you feel are your greatest challenges?
  2.  How do you incorporate broader sustainability elements into LCA in your organizations?  And conversely, how do you use LCA to support your broader sustainability goals?
  3.  What are the advantages of the Three Level Model that can be applied in the specialty chemical or pharmaceutical industry or other industries? 


Location: 2309
Applying an LCA-based corporate footprint to evaluate sustainability priorities at a leading pet care company
SPEAKER: Jon Dettling

ABSTRACT. Nestle Purina Petcare US (Purina) is a leading pet care product manufacturer in the US market. Based on a variety of internal and external factors, Purina is motivated to be able to set and follow an effective strategy on sustainability over the coming years, a major component of which is managing the ways in which the company’s business impacts the environment. To provide a foundation for this work, the company elected to conduct a corporate environmental footprint, based on a life cycle assessment (LCA). The goals of this footprinting work are to provide an understanding of the relative magnitude of various areas of environmental impact within the footprint, to be able to set a strategy and goals for improvements, to identify the best course of action and to have a basis for tracking improvements over time.

Working with consultants, Quantis, Purina assembled thorough data on a wide range of their business, using calendar year 2014 as the timeframe for the evaluation. The data included covers such information as raw material production, inbound and outbound logistics, production operations, packaging, and information to characterize retail, consumer use and end-of-life. The scoping and methodology of the project are based on an LCA concept, drawing on the ISO 14044 standard and the GHG Protocol Scope 3 standard where appropriate. A complete impact assessment, using the IMPACT 2002+ method was applied. The extensive use of animal by-products from the human food chain in the pet industry raises an important allocation issue that has been addressed here by applying an economic allocation within the relevant production systems.

The results of the assessment illustrate the sources of environmental impact within Purina’s value chain and show the relative importance of each area. Although there is some variation, the overall findings are relatively consistent for most of the environmental impact areas, with the raw material supply chain being the most prominent source of impact across each of the impact categories. In many cases, transportation, and packaging are also important areas of environmental impact. Dividing the company among various product categories illustrates further variation and understanding of where substantial impacts do or don’t occur. For example, packaging is a relatively important source of impact for the wet pet food category and only a very small contributor for the dry food category.

Provided with this information and understanding, Purina is beginning use this information to help shape their directions on environmental sustainability issues, including plans for environmental improvements and also potentially using the information to better communicate on their sustainability activities, both internally and externally.

Integration of ecological aspects in sustainable special chemical production in multi-purpose plants
SPEAKER: Mandy Wesche

ABSTRACT. Sustainability has become a major topic in the process development strategy for companies in the chemical, special chemicals and pharmaceutical industry [1, 2]. Besides social and economical aspects ecological considerations are gaining increasing attention as part of the improvement of existing and the design of new processes and production sites.

In special chemical production the manufacturing facilities are often operated as multi-purpose plants (MPP). Individual production processes for different products are set up modularly by combining relevant unit operations. In existing MPP the portfolio of feasible unit operations and available equipment is fixed and new production processes have to fit into this portfolio. Thus, none of the processes use specifically tailored equipment. It can be assumed that these processes exhibit large potentials in regard to energy and resource efficiency.

This contribution will present an approach for a modular based modeling method that allows the assessment of processes in such MPP. It considers the special challenges of MPP: 1. Acquisition of consumption data of single processes taking into account central equipments of the MPP. 2. Allocation of ecological expenditures resulting from provision, disposal and service and maintenance of the MPP to the different processes manufactured in the plant.

The application of the developed approach will be shown for a special chemical production process. The approach is based on the Three Level Model, which considers different levels of detail for process modeling: unit operation, process and production site. It forms the foundation for process reflections in material flow based simulation tools, e.g. umberto® [3]. The transparent reflection of all components, mass and energy flows allows a systematic process analysis including the identification of unit operations with significant ecological relevance.

Furthermore allocation approaches with different levels of detail have been considered and the individual influence of the assignment accuracy has been determined. The combination of calculated consumption data in the model and the allocated plant expenditure enable a holistic ecological assessment of production process. The presented approach supports a continuous consideration and improvement of ecological aspects in the optimization of existing as well as the development of new manufacturing processes.

[1] Grundemann, L., Gonschorowski, V., Fischer, N., Scholl, S.: Cleaning waste minimization for multi­product plants: transferring macro batch to micro conti manufacturing. J. Cleaner Prod. 24, 92-101(2012). [2] Huebschmann, S. et al.: Decision Support Towards Agile Eco-Design of Microreaction Processes by Accompanying (Simplified) Life Cycle Assessment, Green Chem. 13, 1694 – 1707 (2011). [3] Schmidt , M.: Stoffstromnetze zwischen produktbezogener und betrieblicher Ökobilanzierung. In: Schmidt, M. und A. Häuslein (Hrsg.): Ökobilanzierung mit Computerunterstützung. Produktbilanzen und betriebliche Bilanzen mit dem Programm Umberto. Springer-Verlag, 1997.

Lighting the Future with LED: Using LCA for Product Design Insights
SPEAKER: Angela Fisher

ABSTRACT. The lighting industry is in the midst of a dramatic shift away from legacy lighting technologies towards LED-based lighting. This transformational shift has dramatic implications for the energy efficiency of lighting in the built environment, and also has implications regarding materials and supply chain.

GE Lighting designs and sells a wide variety of lighting products including innovative new solid-state (LED) lighting products. Last year, GE Lighting and GE’s Ecoassessment Center of Excellence teamed up with Yale University students as part of an ‘LCA Practicum’ graduate course in which student teams work on real LCA projects in conjunction with industries or municipalities. The goals of the GE/Yale LCA studies were to: (1) understand the key areas of life cycle environmental benefit of several different LED solutions relative to the legacy HID solution; (2) identify opportunities in product design; (3) enhance internal awareness of environmental life cycle concepts; and (4) lay the groundwork for building LCA data across similar product lines.

The study results confirmed the importance of use phase energy efficiency and identified other hot spots and improvement opportunities across the life cycle of the products. The findings from the collaboration projects were leveraged internally to engage with key business stakeholders; further efforts are underway to explore dematerialization and reduced material diversity, critical materials, product take-back, and customer education.

In addition to the LCA results, this presentation will also reveal strategies for collaborating with internal business partners on product ecodesign efforts and commercial engagement.

Development of Life Cycle Calculation and Reporting Tools at Eco-Products

ABSTRACT. Eco-Products, a leading supplier of sustainable, single-use foodservice packaging products, has teamed up with PRé to create a comprehensive, multi-functional software installation designed to assist in internal sustainability analysis, developing public sustainability reports, and creating customized customer reports. The tool will provide life cycle data and calculation functions that will allow Eco-Products to both provide life-cycle data to customers and the general public, as well as explore opportunities for improving the environmental footprint of its products and operations. The first phase of the project involves mapping each of Eco-Products’ main product types into life-cycle data models, creating a comprehensive data repository to support the calculations within the tool. Data will be derived from Eco-Products own operations, supply chain, and existing industry average databases. The resulting dataset will be used to support reporting and analysis by Eco-Products’ sustainability team. After the database has been built, PRé will be working with Eco-Products to build scenarios to both explore individual products and their supply chains, as well as to create customized calculators that will allow Eco-Products to quickly and easily provide their customers with detailed reports covering the environmental impacts of the total purchases that were made each year. These reports include footprints for the total of all products purchased, as well as more in depth analysis on the drivers of the impacts for individual product groups. This presentation will cover the development of the datasets and customized calculators, and will explore the use cases for these approaches as implemented by Eco-Products.

08:30-10:00 Session 6C: Construction Industry
Location: 2306
Streamlining residential building LCA via probabilistic underspecification

ABSTRACT. Traditional life-cycle assessment (LCA) is time, data, and resource intensive. For complex systems like residential buildings, these demands mean that most LCAs are only executed in the later design stages when most of the design decisions have already been made. Even in the late design stage, there are often data gaps that lead to uncertainty in the results.

This presentation will demonstrate the use of a probabilistic underspecification methodology to streamline comprehensive residential building LCA (including both embodied and use phases) as a means of reducing the expense and uncertainty in building LCA. The originality of the work is that the streamlined methodology requires significantly less effort than traditional LCA methodologies while maintaining a rigorous quantification of uncertainty and comprehensive scope, and enabling identification of key parameters that can reduce uncertainty.

An integrated methodology combining a probabilistic underspecification LCA approach and a streamlined use phase energy calculation model was developed and applied to US residential buildings. The TRACI 2.0 impact assessment method is used to illustrate the performance of this approach. Data describing the impact of building materials and systems as well as the attributes describing embodied and use-phase performance were categorized into four levels of specificity, Level 1 (L1) to Level 4 (L4), with L1 being the most underspecified and L4 as the most specified. A series of typical US residential buildings were analyzed at various levels (including hybrid) of specification. A statistical analysis was conducted to identify the most influential attributes (with the highest contribution to variance).

The selected attributes were resolved at L4 resolution of specificity to see how much improvement in fidelity of the impact estimate can be achieved. Preliminary results show that by specifying less than five key building attributes the fidelity of the estimate is similar to a fully-specified LCA. The coefficient of variation (COV) decreases from 37% to 8% for the total life-cycle impacts. The embodied impacts COV decreases from 148% to 52% and the use phase energy COV decreases from 28% to 7%.

The methodology can be used in the early stages of the design process and thus, can be used to quantify the environmental impacts of design decisions, including uncertainty, even when minimal information has been specified.

Integrating LCA into UBC Green Building Design Guidelines and Policy
SPEAKER: Penny Martyn

ABSTRACT. UBC is keen to integrate LCA in green building policy, but what is the best way? In 2014, Civil Engineering students worked with instructor Rob Sianchuk and UBC’s green building manager Penny Martyn to address this question by providing research on how best to include LCA in an upcoming UBC green building policy update.

The project was developed with three goals, including [1] To rationalize the integration of environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) in UBC building design guidelines, policy and operations, [2] To report on the UBC LCA Database and where it can be used by UBC sustainability programs, and [3] To propose how UBC could approach the implementation of LCA in building design and operations.

The resulting research developed by the students was delivered as a presentation with accompanying reports. Key findings concluded that: [1] Inclusion of LCA aligned well with existing initiatives, which primarily aim to reduce GHG emissions and resource use [2] Available UBC building LCA studies provide initial environmental impact reduction strategies and performance benchmarks, and [3] Recommended approaches to institutionalize LCA should consider use of LCA modeling tools, databases, decision making methods, key lessons learned and potential engagement strategies.

This project has made a significant contribution to advancing the integration of LCA findings and processes in UBC green building policy by performing a gap analysis of current policy and providing a range of suggested strategies. Additionally the project has contributed to the evolving framework for LCA studies of major buildings on campus. Another significant outcome has been the unique experience-based learning gained by the students, wherein they have gained hands-on experience with LCA and envisioned solutions to current challenges that extend beyond UBC campus.

Over the past ten years, policy at UBC has progressed from simply promoting single attribute materials (for example recycled content materials) to starting to incorporate lessons learned from LCA research as well as building LCA studies. Areas of current implementation include prioritizing lower impact materials and in particular using wood as a building structure (shown to have significantly less impact in a range of impact categories). Future implementation will include a more rigorous approach with the development of metrics related to LCA.

Environmental life cycle impacts and LEED scores variations as a function of material choices - The Case of a real scale commercial building

ABSTRACT. Building sector’s environmental footprint is significant in Canada. In order to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings, many available certification systems have been proposed, such as The Living Building Challenge (LBC), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ® (LEED) and Passive House. Some of these certifications focus on specific stages (ex. The use phase), and others have a broader scope. However, most of them do not necessarily take into account the interconnectivity of different life cycle stages (ex. Pollution displacements).

The objective of this work is to evaluate the variations in the environmental life cycle impacts (ELCI) and LEED v4 certification scores of a LEED-certified commercial building. These variations will be assessed based on the consequences of selecting different materials.

To meet this objective, a six-storey commercial building (Quebec, Canada) was selected as a case study. The ELCI are assessed using Simapro 8 software, Ecoinvent 3.1 database and Impact World + method. The ELCI of the building is modeled and its LEED v4 score is evaluated as a first step. Using these results based on main contributors, the case study scenario is then modified with different materials to draw up different scenarios. Finally, the ELCI and the LEED v4 score of these alternative scenarios are calculated and compared against the case study scenario.

Preliminary results already show the significant contribution of the production phase of the commercial building in contrast with previous publications in the field (the latter showing the importance of the use phase). The renewable character of the used energy in Quebec context mainly explains this exception. Forthcoming results will help in quantifying the potential variations of the ELCI and LEED v4 certification score according to building materials selections. Consequently, this will help the industry in its efforts to make better material choices. In addition, these results will provide some answers to the extent to which LEED v4 certification system should be regionalized in the context of the province of Quebec.

Building Health and Environmental Impacts: A Common Product Approach
SPEAKER: Rebecca Stamm

ABSTRACT. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is increasingly becoming part of the building design process. Architects, engineers, and owners are requesting whole-building LCAs and environmental product declarations (EPDs) to help establish the environmental footprint of their buildings. In parallel, these stakeholders are also collecting and evaluating building material health hazards, using mediums such as health product declarations (HPDs) and GreenScreen assessments. For both environmental and health burdens, two challenges persist: the lack of publicly available declarations and consistent reporting and methods. These challenges diminish the utility of LCA and health hazard analysis in affecting the building design process, particularly during early design.

A “common product” approach can be used to resolve the lack of data and inconsistency challenges for the purposes of early design decisions. Many of the key building materials and products can be simplified into a list of material contents that are roughly representative of an average, or common, product. These products can then be evaluated for their environmental and health impacts using consistent methods. This presentation will review the process for creating a draft common products list and the associated environmental and health burdens. Environmental impacts are evaluated using LCA (following 14040/44) and health burdens are evaluated through the Pharos library. Part of this review will also examine the challenges of combining LCA and health hazard data and research. The results will demonstrate the power of using common products, rather than actual products, to inform early design decisions and subsequent product specifications.

08:30-10:00 Session 6D: Special Session: Net Energy Analysis Insights for Early Technology Assessment

Net energy analysis (NEA) analyzes energy technologies by quantifying the energy cost of providing an energy service, typically expressed by an energy return ratio such as the energy return on investment (EROI). In contrast to standard LCA practice, NEA distinguishes between the (extracted) feedstock energy provided to a process and the (external) embodied energy invested in building and operating the process infrastructure. NEA's unique insight is therefore the energy intensity with which a process utilizes the feedstock energy provided to it.

Discussion of NEA has grown recently, both for application as a technology assessment tool and for methodoloy develpment. NEA has recently been applied to photovoltaic electricity generation [1,2], grid storage [3, 4, 5] and biofuels [6, 7, 8]. Recent work on NEA methodology has introduced a matrix-based approach to NEA [9, 10] and developed systematic definitions of energy return ratios [11].

The objective of the session is to share insights from recent applications of net energy analysis to specific energy technologies. The session will begin with a brief overview of net energy analysis in the context of LCA, then proceed to standard oral presentations. The talks will be followed by a 10-20 minute moderated discussion to address methodological topics such as consistent system boundaries.

Location: 2301
Ideal limits to energy storage energy cost minimization.

ABSTRACT. Special Section: Net Energy Analysis

Energy storage technologies have two energetic costs: life-cycle embodied energy costs and energy losses due to inefficient operation. From this perspective, net energy cost minimization theoretically occurs when the battery is 100% efficient and has 0 embodied energy costs. These limits define two energy cost ideals: thermodynamic perfection and zero energy investment. How do current storage technologies fair in relationship to these limits and how can we use these ideal limits for early technology appraisal? To make this comparison, we define a new energy return ratio: the energy stored on energy expended (ESEE). In this work we demonstrate the superiority of this ratio over a previously defined ratio for energy storage, the energy stored on energy invested (ESOI). This presentation will report the life cycle energy costs of several energy storage technologies in reference to these ideals. Primary and electrical embodied energy requirements for storage technologies were obtained by a) conducting a meta-analysis of several published LCA studies, b) harmonizing, when possible, these data by a cradle-to-gate LCA boundary, c) converting primary energy data to electrical energy by a applying a standard conversion factor of 0.3, and d) binning results into quartiles and applying only the IQR to our calculations. Sources and energy accounting methodology is described in prior work (Barnhart, Dale, Brandt and Benson, 2013). We recognize that storage technologies are rapidly evolving and that the paltry LCA and LCI data available is likely out of date. Our theoretical framework however is grounded in first principles and can be repeatedly employed as data becomes refined. Results to date show that per cycle embodied energy costs matter, but for technologies with sought-after charge-discharge cycle life values above 3000, round-trip efficiency really dominates the energy balance sheet. Moreover, energy losses due to storage inefficiencies critically depend on the energy intensity of the resource.

Using life cycle net energy metrics to assess impacts of oil resource depletion and technological change in the oil industry
SPEAKER: Adam Brandt

ABSTRACT. So-called “conventional” oil resources are becoming increasingly limited due to resource depletion, political limitations on development, and technological challenges associated with remote resources. At the same time, technological change has allowed unconventional reservoirs (like “tight” oil) and unconventional hydrocarbons (like the oil sands) make up an increasing fraction of our oil supply. How can net energy analysis illuminate the impacts of these important trends? And does net energy analysis point to ways to assess the impacts of oil resources?

This talk examines these questions as follows: first, we explore the use of so-called “net energy analysis” to examine oil resources, including the various metrics that have been defined in the literature and their implications. Next, we illustrate what these metrics can tell us based on two case studies: unconventional oil from oil sands operations in Alberta and hydraulically-fractured oil resources of the Bakken formation in North Dakota. We illustrate how different metrics can give different insights into these resources, despite their similar economic profiles.

The results of these analyses suggest some interesting trends. First, although both oil sands and tight oil resources are considered similar in economic profile (50-80$/bbl break even cost), their net energy results are quite different. Using the NER (net energy return) metric, oil sands mining operations have NER of about 5 MJ produced per MJ consumed. On the other hand, hydraulic fracturing operations in the Bakken have NER of about 50 MJ output per MJ consumed. In contrast, a different metric, the net external energy return (NEER), which measures output of oil product compared to inputs from the rest of society, the oil sands operations have ratios of approximately 25 MJ output per MJ consumed.

We argue that the NEER metric is a better indicator of the economic sustainability of a project, because it compares output energy to purchased external energy supplies. However, the NER metric is more inclusive and includes energy resources consumed on-site from on-site deposits. This makes NER better correlated with environmental impact analysis and traditional LCA metrics (e.g.., cumulative energy demand).

Meta-analysis for net energy analyses - preliminary thoughts from the LCA Harmonization project
SPEAKER: Garvin Heath

ABSTRACT. This presentation will review preliminary thoughts about the applicability of methods and experience with systematic review and meta-analytical harmonization of life cycle assessments to net energy analyses. Such approaches should be equally applicable to net energy analyses, yielding the potential to leverage prior work for collective insight. NREL’s LCA Harmonization study collected not only LCAs but also net energy analyses, even if less comprehensively, giving a first look at available evidence which, like for LCAs, displays considerable variability for the same technology (several orders of magnitude in many cases). NEA suffers from less conformity on metrics within its research community relative to LCA (which is not free of such suffering). Harmonization will thus be relatively more challenging for NEA. NEA estimates can be potent messaging tools in support or opposition to certain energy technologies, and like LCAs, analysts can obfuscate their methodological choices and differences from norms to make a subjective case. The International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems (PVPS) Task 12 on Environmental Health and Safety is attempting to address this concern by developing a guideline for NEA methodology with respect to PV electricity, analogous to our LCA guidelines. If we are successful, such a guide could help to establish a consistent standard of reporting NEA results for PV, and if successful there, could be extended to other energy technologies by other groups.

Lifecycle assessment and net energy analysis - birds of a feather, or uneasy bedfellows?

ABSTRACT. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) and net energy analysis (NEA) are complementary approaches with a common historical basis but different underlying motivations and methodologies. As LCA practitioners move more and more beyond the bounds of attributional to consequential LCA the methodological concerns of NEA become more and more appropriate. As such, it is important to understand the large overlaps in method, but also the important distinctions between the two frameworks.

This paper will outline these differences along a number of important dimensions including:goal (motivation and aim), scope (system boundary and assumptions), methodological structure (allocation and aggregation) and interpretation.

The hope is that NEA practitioners will appreciate more of the common elements between NEA and LCA adopt more of the methodological rigor of LCA and that practitioners of LCA will understand more of the underlying differences between the two frameworks and see insights and opportunities for developing consequential LCA.

10:00-10:30Coffee Break
10:30-12:00 Session 7A: Methods 2
Location: 2311
Life Cycle Assessment Capacity Roadmap Section 1: Decision-Making Support using LCA
SPEAKER: Lise Laurin

ABSTRACT. A group of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) practitioners has been working on a roadmap for capacity development in LCA. The Roadmap is envisioned to identify common needs for development in LCA, which can then be addressed by the academic, vendor, and broader LCA community. The first section of the roadmap concerning decision-making support has been completed and has undergone a public comment period. The resulting consensus document is available for download and outlines the current state as well as areas needing work and milestones to ensure progress continues apace. Other roadmapping groups are forming and are looking for practitioners to support the effort. Often, LCA results do not show a clear and certain environmental preference over one choice or another. When this happens, current methods are limited in their ability to inform decision makers. The roadmap document covers five main areas of development. The first area concerns performance measures of confidence, which identify the acceptable uncertainty for study results, minimizing expenditures. The second area concerns selection of impact categories; an area where there are already methods in use. The roadmap suggests that these should be codified and their applicability to various applications identified. Normalization is addressed next. While several methods of normalization are in use, the method with the greatest acceptance in the LCA community has a number of drawbacks including data gaps for the emissions references, (Heijungs et al. 2007), a lack of consensus in how the data is compiled (Bare et al. 2006), lack of uncertainty information (Lautier et al. 2010), and spatial and temporal variability (Finnvedenet al. 2009; Bare and Gloria 2006).

This area is followed by weighting, which is a form of Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). The broader MCDA field can enrich LCA by providing studied methods of assessing tradeoffs. The last area deals with visualization of results. Many other LCA capacity needs would benefit from documentation. This include but are not limited to addressing ill-characterized uncertainty, Life Cycle Inventory data needs and data format needs and tool capabilities. Groups are being formed to address several of these topics and new members are welcomed.

A comparison of methodologies for quantifying variation in life cycle inventories: the case of US portland cement production

ABSTRACT. Variation in life cycle inventories (LCI) is rarely reported, in spite of the fact that inventories are often created by aggregating data from several locations. Despite the importance of data aggregation, little formal discussion about the methodological choices or their implications is found in the literature.

In this study, two approaches for aggregating LCI data, inventory-level (horizontal) and plant-level (vertical), were implemented in the context of a specific industrial case: portland cement production in North America. We present a rigorous derivation of the methodologies for aggregating LCI data and environmental impacts in order to highlight the similarities and differences. Then we present the LCI framework and data sources used to form the LCI for portland cement using both approaches. Finally, we show results from a single attribute global warming potential (GWP) life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of cradle-to-gate portland cement production using a Monte Carlo simulation approach in order to explore the implication of the inventory aggregation methods.

For the case of portland cement, we observe that the mean values of GWP of producing 1 kg portland cement using both approaches are similar for all process types (less than 2% difference), but the standard deviations can be significantly different between the two approaches (3 to 60% difference). This is expected because of differences in the handling of correlation across exchange magnitudes within a facility and zero-inflated data. In the conventional approach to inventory aggregation—inventory-level—it is assumed that exchanges are uncorrelated and zero-inflated data are not explicitly accommodated. Plant-level aggregation, however, enforces correlation among flow magnitudes within the plant and removes the impact of zero-inflation.

Inventory-level aggregation is needed for LCA because it is the only way to create transparent, unit-process inventories that are both modular and flexible. Nevertheless, there is a clear deficiency in the implementation of inventory-level aggregation in that individual exchanges are represented using conventional distributions and exchange magnitudes are assumed independent.

New inventory studies should analyze inventory data for the existence of significant correlation and zero-inflated data that reflect operational subpopulations. In some cases, this may lead to the development of separate LCI datasets. Ultimately, these improvements in quantitative uncertainty reporting, aggregation methods, and the resulting LCIs are expected to provide more statistically robust LCA conclusions.

Using Monte Carlo Simulation to Reduce or Eliminate Uncertainty
SPEAKER: Joe Marriott

ABSTRACT. Two case studies are presented that show how Monte Carlo can reduce uncertainty in LCA results. The first case study is based on NETL's upstream natural gas model. Parameterized life cycle models provide flexibility in the specification of uncertainty ranges around parameters. However, as the complexity of a model increases, the combined uncertainty of multiple unit processes can span a range that overstates the likelihood of total uncertainty. Such overstatements are due to the pairing of all best case parameters (resulting in improbably low bounds on results) and, conversely, the pairing of all worst case parameters (resulting in improbably high bounds on results). This amplification of uncertainty is problematic even when the uncertainty ranges around individual parameters are carefully selected, such as the discarding of outliers or, when enough data points are available, the use of interquartile ranges. This case study shows the use of Monte Carlo simulation (or other sampling methods) prevents the pairing of extreme parameters and yields total uncertainty ranges that represent a likelihood instead of a universe of results. For example, before Monte Carlo simulation, the uncertainty in GHG results (in 100-year, AR-5 GWPs) is +200%/-20% around the mean; after the application of Monte Carlo analysis, the uncertainty is +33%/-12% around the mean. The second case study demonstrates the ways in which too many parameters can confound the interpretation of results when a different question is being asked, namely picking the “better” scenario. The uncertainty can be reduced by identifying the common parameters between scenarios and holding those values constant while Monte Carlo simulation is applied to the remaining parameters. While this negatively affects the absolute values generate by the models, it provides a more direct comparison between the scenarios and allows us to focus on the parameters that differentiate options and identify true opportunities for improvement.

LCI uncertainty modelling through the pedigree approach: uncertainty factors derivation based on a broad data assessment

ABSTRACT. The widely used LCI database ecoinvent models uncertainty on data through a semi-quantitative approach: the pedigree approach. It combines two types of uncertainty: the basic uncertainty (intrinsic variability) and the additional uncertainty (variability due to the use of imperfect data) determined using a so-called “pedigree matrix”. In the first releases of the ecoinvent database, the figures used to model uncertainty were determined by expert judgment. In 2013, Ciroth et al. defined new uncertainty factors (for the additional uncertainty) based on empirical considerations [1]. The work presented here goes further by assessing a larger amount of data sources (almost 80 sources were used containing more than 20 000 LCI data points) and by improving the data assessment framework to derive basic and additional uncertainty factors by type of flow. The data assessment will be presented: it is based on classification techniques that allow the obtaining of uncertainty factors by type of flows or by industrial sector. Obtained uncertainty figures for both the basic and additional uncertainties will also be presented. Preliminary results show that additional uncertainty factors depend on both the assessed industrial sector and the type of flow. For example, for the pedigree criteria “Further technological correlation” and for a pedigree score equals to 5, the obtained uncertainty factor when considering the agriculture sector is 1.61; the figure is 2.02 when the electricity generation sector is assessed. Preliminary results also show that currently used uncertainty factors tend to underestimate the uncertainty. This work will permit to quantify uncertainty, particularly for data used in background processes, in a more reliable way. This better and more detailed foundation for uncertainty figures will help the decision-making process based on LCAs by improving the trust in the obtained results.

1. Ciroth, A., et al., Empirically based uncertainty factors for the pedigree matrix in ecoinvent. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2013, doi: 10.1007/s11367-013-0670-5

10:30-12:00 Session 7B: Transportation

Life Cycle Assessment has been used to analyze the emissions and potential environmental impacts of transportation. In this session, the focus is on LCA of motorcycles, and passenger vehicles including autonomous vehicles. The impact of particulate matters emission on carbon footprint of gasoline and electricity for vehicles will also be discussed.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. LCA of disruptive road transportation technology (Autonomous Vehicles)
  2. Framework for LCA of various transportation modes in the Swiss transport fleet
  3. Role of LCA in choosing more climate-friendly vehicle fleet
  4. Impacts of PM 2.5 contribution to global warming
Location: 2309
Environmental Assessment of Motorcycles and Two-Wheeled Fleet Development from 1990-2050
SPEAKER: Brian Cox

ABSTRACT. This work describes a life cycle assessment of motorcycles and scooters and examines two-wheeled fleet development from 1990-2015 with projections until 2050.

We performed life cycle assessment for four motorcycle size classes for conventional, battery, and fuel cell powertrains and corresponding technology developments over time. Parameters such as motorcycle power, mass, fuel consumption, and annual survival probability are determined using large datasets of existing motorcycles. These are used to calibrate performance models for current and future motorcycles, ensuring transparent and consistent comparison across motorcycle classes and powertrain types. Swiss national data is used as a case study to examine two-wheeled fleet dynamics, the penetration rates of new technologies, and the development of overall fleet environmental impacts over time.

Our preliminary results show that the environmental impacts and energy demand of motorcycles are strongly dependent on motorcycle size, powertrain type, driving characteristics, and year of manufacture. Battery electric powertrains are found to be well suited to smaller motorcycles and show strong climate benefits, but are less suited to larger motorcycles due to weight and range limitations. For these motorcycles, fuel cells are seen to be a potential alternative, though the resulting environmental benefits remain uncertain. The environmental benefits of tailpipe emissions regulations, efficiency improvements, and adoption of electric powertrains are found to be significant for individual motorcycles. However, in Switzerland, these improvements are largely overshadowed by fleet growth and increasing average motorcycle power until at least 2030 for many environmental impact categories. After 2030 a significant portion of the motorcycle fleet is calculated to be powered by alternative powertrains, resulting in potentially large decreases in environmental impacts. However, these environmental impacts are strongly dependent on the primary energy sources used to produce electricity and hydrogen.

This work provides a framework that will be used to develop a life cycle assessment of all transportation modes in the Swiss transport fleet. Results of the fleet analysis provide insights regarding the ability of the Swiss transport sector to meet the challenges of the Energy Turnaround in Switzerland. This work is supported by the SCCER Mobility project (

Autonomous Vehicles – a game changer in transportation’s environmental impacts?

ABSTRACT. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are a potentially disruptive technology with significant potential to alter the transportation sector’s environmental impacts. But the magnitude and direction of their impact on energy and environmental impacts are uncertain. AVs could enable unprecedented levels of efficiency and radically reduce transportation sector’s energy use and environmental impacts. However, consumer choices could result in a net increase in energy consumption and environmental impacts. Because AVs are such a new technology, performing a full LCA of AVs is difficult. In their current form, these vehicle are not significantly different that current Light-Duty Vehicles (LDVs), and an LCA of current AV would not be significantly different than that of current vehicle. Thus life-cycle energy impacts are prospective. Anticipating the “order of magnitude” life-cycle changes that AV could enable is a first step in the LCA of this emerging technology.

This presentation will outline several key drivers that will most likely influence AV’s impact on transportation sector energy consumption and environmental impacts. Exploring the ranges of plausible futures across each of these key drivers highlights the uncertainty of AV’s future life-cycle impacts. This provides bounding “book ends” of how AVs could alter the energy consumption patterns of the U.S. transportation sector in the future.

At this early stage of an exciting potential AV future, the research community should be aware of the magnitude of influence that AVs can have on transportation’s energy future and its life-cycle impacts.

Using parametrized LCA to evaluate over 120 passenger vehicle models against climate change mitigation targets
SPEAKER: Marco Miotti

ABSTRACT. Climate policy targets in many developed nations require that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions peak within the next decade and then fall more than twice as fast as they have been rising for the last century. A considerable fraction of emissions comes from light-duty vehicles (20% in the U.S. in 2012 [1]), and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies have analyzed the potential of alternative powertrain technologies to lower these emissions.

Here, we aim to improve our understanding of the pathways towards a cleaner vehicle fleet by capturing the wide variety in size, shape and performance of vehicles on the market, and by comparing this performance to emission targets. We simultaneously assess costs of ownership to draw conclusions about the affordability of a decarbonization transition. We achieve this by building a GREET-based parameterized LCA model to calculate the lifecycle GHG emissions and costs of over 120 light-duty vehicle models sold in the U.S. in 2014, considering all powertrain technology options. We then evaluate these options against vehicle emission targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050, which we derive from overall climate change policy goals [2].

The carbon intensity of the average car sold in 2014 exceeds the GHG emissions target for 2030 by more than 50%, but most hybrid and battery electric vehicles meet this target. However, no vehicle model meets the 2040 and 2050 targets, when using the current U.S. electricity mix. Furthermore, we find that there is no trade-off between cost and carbon intensity across the group of vehicle models examined. A clean vehicle is also a low-cost vehicle, independent of the powertrain technology. Simultaneously, emissions and costs strongly depend on vehicle size and performance. By 2050, only battery electric vehicles supplied with almost completely carbon-free electric power can meet climate policy targets.

These results can help consumers and technology developers from the public and private sectors to evaluate light-duty vehicle technology options against climate change mitigation goals, thereby finding feasible pathways towards climate-friendly personal transport.

[1] EPA, 2007: Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990-2012. [2] Den Elzen, M., Höhne, N., 2011: Sharing the reduction effort to limit global warming to 2 C. Climate Policy, 37–41.

Should PM 2.5 Be Added to The Carbon Footprint?
SPEAKER: John Beath

ABSTRACT. Recent scientific studies have indicated that PM 2.5 is not only a direct contributor to the environment as a criteria pollutant, but it also can contribute to global warming by absorbing incoming solar radiation and warming the atmosphere. Based on proposed relative global warming potential, this paper presents carbon footprint data related to cradle-to-gate gasoline and electricity based on the potential added impacts contributed if PM 2.5 contribution to global warming is considered. This impact has been discussed in several publications, but to date no calculations have been identified based on Internet searches.

The process used to estimate the impacts for this paper was to leverage PM 2.5 data published in the Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET transportation fuels model (GREET1_2014) for emissions of PM from power plants and oil extraction and processing facilities.

Results show whether the comparison between gas and electric fuel for vehicles may be significantly altered based on this modification to the carbon footprint, or if previous analyses still apply. The science behind Global Warming Potential (GWP) values for black carbon (PM 2.5) is evolving, but current estimates begin at a lower end of 48, which was the primary value used for this analysis. The upper end of the range can be as high as 4600, and this was evaluated as a sensitivity.

Since carbon black is contributed by sources other than industrial and transportation combustion, the impacts from major global sources were also considered. Poorly designed cook stoves and open fires are major contributors to PM 2.5, particularly in Africa and Asia. The benefits predicted based on reduced carbon footprint are greatly enhanced when a PM 2.5 impact is added. Comparisons to other potential fuels could be altered where carbon dioxide and PM 2.5 do not vary at the same proportion.

10:30-12:00 Session 7C: Construction Industry 2

This session looks at innovative approaches to assess building construction impacts that are typically overlooked in LCA.  Three of the presentations address the inclusion of use phase impacts; topics include the atmospheric NOx removal properties of titanium dioxide in concrete blocks, the inclusion of thermal performance of curtainwall systems, and the emission of VOC’s and semi VOC’s in flooring materials. A web-based platform for incorporating construction and embodied material impact data will also be presented. 

Key Discussion Points:

1. Methods used to assess the net NOx emission associated with concrete paving blocks and eco-blocks (with and without TiO2).

2. The environmental performance and thermal behavior of two different curtain wall (CW) systems.

3. Web-based data collection and its use in whole building LCA. 

4. The use-phase impact of chemicals encapsulated in flooring materials.

Location: 2306
Comprehensive evaluation of NOx emissions associated with the manufacturing and use of TiO2 based eco-product by lifecycle assessment approach

ABSTRACT. Worldwide, the use of photocatalyst in the construction field has gained increasing attention recently. This is mainly due to the air-purification, self-cleaning, and bacteria inactivation potential of the photocatalytic process. The most common photocatalyst used with construction materials is nano titanium dioxide (TiO2) which can degrade organic and inorganic air pollutants by the photocatalytic process, especially nitrogen oxides (NOx) associated with combustion processes and vehicular emissions. By utilizing locally generated construction and demolition (C&D) wastes and waste glass and with the incorporation of a small quantity of nano TiO2, the authors’ research team has successfully developed eco paving blocks with self-cleaning and air purifying functions. However, there is lack of research on the comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the TiO2 based concrete products by taking into consideration both the manufacturing and use phases of the photocatalytic products by lifecycle assessment (LCA) techniques. The present study was conducted to assess and compare the net NOx emission associated with the concrete paving normal blocks and eco-blocks (with and without TiO2) through a comprehensive LCA. The study results demonstrated that, within the ‘cradle-to-site’ system boundary (which includes raw material extraction/production, raw material collection and transport to blocks manufacturing site, blocks manufacturing, and transport of the produced blocks to use sites), eco-blocks had about 18% lower emission of NOx in comparison with normal blocks due to the use of recycled materials. The net NOx emission of eco-blocks with and without TiO2 was almost similar, as TiO2 contributes to the total NOx emission insignificantly (less than 0.5%).

In addition, for eco-blocks with a NOx degradation rate of 0.045 mg/h/kg eco-blocks (during its use phase), it was estimated that about 8 years of service life would be required to compensate for the total amount of manufacturing and transport related NOx emission. In contrary, no NOx removal function was observed for the normal blocks and eco-blocks without TiO2. The overall findings indicate that TiO2 based eco-blocks are more environmentally friendly both by reducing and removing significant amounts of NOx and re-utilizing a significant amount of C&D waste and waste glass to alleviate the burden on landfilling of the wastes.

Energy and Environmental Performance of High-rise Office Facades: a life cycle study of Curtain wall systems for cold-climate region
SPEAKER: Negar Badri

ABSTRACT. Negar Badri (PhD Student in Faculty of Environmental Design, Calgary University, Canada) Getachew Assefa (Associate Professor in Faculty of Environmental Design, Calgary University, Canada)

Abstract: Due to global energy challenges, construction industry has improved a broad range of both practices and studies on energy efficiency of building envelope. Depending on thermal characteristics of building components, building envelope plays a major role in energy performance and thermal behavior of a building [1]. In addition to energy consumed by building in its operational phase, assembly of building envelope itself requires energy, materials, labor and equipment [2] in construction phase. This results in not only energy concerns but it also raises environmental issues such as emissions of air, water, soil pollutants. Notably, fewer studies in construction industry, have applied an integrated framework of energy and environmental analysis.

According to above-mentioned issue, this research aims to examine the life cycle environmental performance and thermal behavior of two different curtain wall (CW) systems, a typical aluminum frame CW and an integrated photovoltaic CW, applied to a hypothetical high-rise office in Canada. The paper applies a LCA method to evaluate the environmental impacts of CW systems in four different impact categories: Global Warming, Acidification, Eutrophication and Ozone depletion. Sima-pro 8.0.1 software (using Ecoinvent 3.0 Data base) is employed to develop life cycle inventory (LCI) of two models during a cradle to grave assessment. In addition, the study applies simulation method to feed the energy input of LCI software and to evaluate the energy performance of two façade systems.

The result from the modeling of two systems will help to identify the curtain wall system with more energy efficient performance and reduced environmental impacts. This provides a framework to identify the components of building envelope that result in improved thermal and environmental performance during the early stages of the design phase.

[1] IEA, Technology Roadmap: Energy-efficient Building Envelopes, International Energy Agency, 2013. [2] R. Azari, Integrated energy and environmental life cycle assessment of office envelopes, Energy and Buildings 82 (2014) 156-162.

Leveraging Web-Based Data Collection for Whole Building Life Cycle Assessments in the Design of Single Family Houses

ABSTRACT. Landmark Group of Companies first utilized LCA with a screening-level assessment to identify the hotspots within the Cradle-to-Gate construction of a single house. This informed the subsequent comparative Cradle-to-Grave assessment, which included supplier-specific data for some of the largest material contributors. Through the LCA model built from these projects, Landmark has positioned themselves to scale up their ability to quickly conduct LCAs on their houses. The initial screening level LCA showed that cement, engineered lumber, and insulation were the largest single contributors to the potential environmental impacts of a typical Landmark house. Supplier-specific data was collected using a web-based software tool and subsequently modeled in the LCA software. This fed into the comparative LCA, which quantified the environmental benefits of Landmark’s panelized construction system and ‘Net-Zero’ house design as compared to a conventional stick-built home. While a typical Landmark house and a traditional stick-built house were comparable over a 60 year operating period, improvements were seen both in the construction of the house and in the lifetime impact of the Net-Zero house. Using the developed LCA model, Landmark is now able to identify significant building materials with respect to environmental impact, quantify benefits of new building systems, and improve environmental footprint of their homes during the design phase. Additionally, Landmark uses web-based tool to collect and calculate the environmental impact of the 700 – 1000 construction sites under their control. For supply chain sustainability, Landmark leverages the same tool to collect product level data from suppliers in terms of energy, materials, emissions, etc. The data can then be used in the LCA software to perform a Cradle-to-Gate LCA of the product. Landmark required a solution to capture both the environmental impacts of the construction of their homes and the upstream supply chain impacts. Using the described combination of web-based data collection and LCA software, Landmark is able to understand the potential environmental impacts of all aspects related to the construction of its houses. This includes site-by-site capture of construction impacts as well as supply chain-specific environmental information, and ultimately allows for the continued environmental improvement of the houses constructed by Landmark.

Quantifying the use-phase impact of chemicals in flooring materials

ABSTRACT. Traditional practices of life cycle assessment (LCA) have primarily focused on the impacts of outdoor emissions or emissions during the raw material extraction, manufacturing and disposal stage. However, studies have demonstrated that near-field chemical intakes during use phase may exceed environmentally mediated exposures and are therefore essential to be considered when assessing the impact across a product’s life cycle.

The present study characterized the use-phase impact of chemicals encapsulated in flooring materials, which is expected to be a major emission source in the indoor environment. A parsimonious model which describes the diffusive emissions of chemicals from materials and the subsequent loss by ventilation has been developed to calculate the chemical emissions from vinyl flooring. This model greatly simplifies previous models and is based solely on explicit equations, which is suitable for high-throughput calculations. The predicted emissions are then multiplied by an indoor inhalation intake factor to calculate the product intake fraction (PiF), which determines the fraction of a chemical in a product that is taken up by humans during its use phase. Inventory emission factors and human health impacts expressed in DALYs per functional unit were also calculated by incorporating the PiF and the initial chemical mass in the flooring material per functional unit.

Chemicals tested include 5 SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds) and 6 VOCs. For 1.5mm-thick vinyl flooring, the PiF via inhalation over 15 years ranges from 2·10-7 to 4·10-3. Average daily intakes are in the range of 10-5 to 10-3 mg/kg·day, which are close to the inhalation intakes from secondhand smoke for 4 of the 6 tested VOCs (10-4 to 10-2 mg/kg·day for formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde and ethylbenzene). Moreover, the impacts of these indoor inhalation intakes are of the same order of magnitude as the respiratory effects of outdoor emissions. The PiF and daily intakes would be even higher if additional exposure pathways such as dermal absorption and hand-to-mouth ingestion are considered.

This study quantitatively evaluates the importance of indoor air emissions of chemicals encapsulated in flooring materials, which has been overlooked in LCA. The parsimonious emission model employed in this study can be easily used in high-throughput screening of the large amount of chemicals encapsulated in building materials and consumer products, which can enable LCA practitioners to identify the product ingredients contributing the most impact and to subsequently target them for improvement of product sustainability.

10:30-12:00 Session 7D: Special Session: Teaching & Communicating Sustainability

With an increasing number of quantitative and qualitative tools available, teaching and communicating sustainability to different target groups become even more important in paving the way towards a sustainable future and meaningful actions. In fact, teaching and communication will help in putting tools and practices, developed by scientists, into application.

Many aspects of sustainability have found their way into teaching at universities and continuous professional education, and many scientists are actively engaged in this process. This session aims to provide a platform for exchange of experiences, methods, and inspiration regarding the teaching of sustainability on the university level, continuous professional education, and broad societal communication to consumers or politicians (e.g. via labels, or the media). 

Short presentations followed by interactive session. 

Location: 2301
What makes e-learning meaningful? - Understanding the Cognitive theory of Multimedia Learning
SPEAKER: Laurel McEwen

ABSTRACT. We have all sat through an hour webinar and learned very little. Downloaded whitepapers, videos and PowerPoints, read watched for an hour, and still did not feel any smarter. We have also had positive experiences learning from these formats. So what makes one webinar effective at helping you construct new knowledge and another ineffective? What makes e-learning meaningful?

E-learning (learning conducted via electronic media, typically on the internet) comes in a dizzying variety of forms. Ranging from simple videotaping lectures that are posting online for anytime access, to downloadable materials such power-points, videos, white papers, to live webinars, social forums and chat rooms, to highly sophisticated multi-media learning systems that may use cognitive tutors, interactive games, provide assessment and issue certifications. Each of these can be used effectively to promote learning. Frequently, however, they are ineffective.

Good multimedia instruction considers the guidelines provided by the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. This theory encompasses the work of cognitive scientist studying how people learn, and hundreds of evidence based studies evaluating the effectiveness of multimedia instructional design.

Mayer, Richard E. "Applying the science of learning: evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction." American Psychologist 63.8 (2008): 760.

An Experiential Serious Game to Stimulate Life Cycle Thinking in Organizations and in Education
SPEAKER: Jon Dettling

ABSTRACT. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the importance of environmental protection and sustainability to consumers, policy makers, and society in general. Reflecting this, most organizations are at least aware of this new agenda and wish to be seen as taking steps to improve behaviors in this regard. However, there appears to be a gap between this evolving agenda and the comparatively low level of knowledge that marketing managers actually have of the environmental impact of their own functional decisions.

We suggest that this low knowledge level may be due, in part, to the marketplace focus of foundational marketing educational programs, and we attempt to show how broadening the horizons of marketing courses can help students (i.e., future managers) more deeply understand the environmental consequences of their actions.

We demonstrate the use of a novel business game, based on the Life Cycle Assessment method, as the foundational cornerstone for the development of a broad understanding of the environmental impact of marketing decisions and actions for the entire life cycle of a product—from raw material extraction to ultimate disposal. The results of an empirical study show that this approach increases students’ appreciation for, and understanding of, these fundamental environmental sustainability concepts.

Confronting the Challenges in integrating sustainable development in a Curriculum - The case at the Civil Engineering Department at Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada)

ABSTRACT. Curriculum integrations are challenging and time consuming and hence require certain protocol for effective integration that defines the entire integration approach. Therefore, the goal of presentation is to provide a non-discipline specific curriculum integration approach, for consistent and effective integration of sustainability concepts.

The presented approach suggests the following steps a) mapping of courses in a curriculum, to identify the existent levels, as well as the scope of integration in each course, b) setting up integration targets in each course c) developing an action plan to achieve the targets d) evaluating student competencies in sustainability & e) assessment and monitoring of the integration, for effective integration of sustainable development in the curriculum.

The suggested approach is applied at the department of Civil Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke, and the successful application is presented as the results of this approach. As a part of curriculum integration at the Université de Sherbrooke, the concept of Life Cycle Assessment was introduced at various levels along the curriculum. In addition, life cycle assessment concepts were introduced and discussed in the context of the particular civil engineering course. Students were also introduced to different life cycle assessment tools, and a life cycle assessment tool was developed for the purpose of use in teaching modules.

Reflection on the Experience of Teaching Sustainability Related Courses at Different Levels

ABSTRACT. This contribution is based on the experience of teaching three courses on Industrial Ecology (IE) in Sweden, Canada and China, two graduate courses on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Canada and one Ph.D. course on Sustainable Development (SD) in Ethiopia. The IE courses (two masters and one Ph.D.) and LCA graduate courses differ in length of time from two weeks intensive course to a full semester course. The SD course is a Ph.D. course offered over a month.

Depending on the length and type of course, group project, individual assignments, case study presentations and computer labs were used as delivery methods. Some of the challenges are different backgrounds of students thereby varying level of preparedness; group dynamics, finding appropriate study visit sites depending on where the course is offered. On the other hand, appealing content, interdisciplinarity and research connection are the opportunity of offering a graduate course on LCA and IE to students with diverse backgrounds. Factors mentioned by students as contributing to a successful learning experience include content, format, length of time, inclusion of locally relevant examples and outside class support.

In terms of communicating sustainability to the general public in a learning environment, an experiment with a one-day course was found to be working well.

Creating a Community of LCA Teachers

ABSTRACT. LCA education is fun, because the students come from a wide range of horizons while having one point on common: the curiosity for system discoveries !

Building on 25 years of LCA teaching with more than a thousand students, we are publishing an Environmental Life Cycle assessment textbook to enable a larger number of professional and students worldwide to teach themselves LCA good practices and to discover the beauty and limitations of this system approach.

Thinking of building an open website to make our own teaching material available, gave us the idea to broaden the initiative. We therefore propose the launch of the website to enable all interested LCA teachers to share their teaching material in multiple languages and exchange experiences, as a first step towards the creation of a community of LCA teachers.

We would like to discuss what would best format for such a website, to brainstorm about the best for such a community of LCA teachers and to identify interested potential partners.

12:00-13:30Lunch Break

Lunch sponsored by thinkstep

13:30-15:00 Session 8A: Methods 3: Land Use/ Biodiversity
Location: 2311
Climate change impacts of Retail food waste treatment options based upon substrate characteristics

ABSTRACT. Recently several Northeastern states (i.e. Massachusetts, Connecticut,Vermont) and cities such as NYC, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland have instituted legislation to ban landfilling of commercial food waste. These bans often target supermarkets, which according to an NRDC report generate approximately 46B pounds of food waste annually in the U.S. [1]. These retail institutions often have work processes and personnel, which can enable source separation of their waste streams. Furthermore, they are often faced with more options to treat the waste streams, than those for municipal solid waste (MSW). One criterion important to the choice of waste treatment alternative is the associated climate change impact. Several studies have analyzed the climate change impact of waste treatment alternatives and have concluded that an important factor to consider is the composition of the waste.[2][3] While most studies have been based on municipal solid waste (MSW) a few have considered broad constituents of the waste stream such as food scraps. However, we are not aware of any work that has considered sub categories of food waste, such as bakery waste, produce or canned goods. This study uses empirical data on the characteristics of several categories of source separated retail food waste to develops a model for the greenhouse gas impacts associated with a variety of disposal pathways based upon these characteristics. The results of the model can inform retail food waste generators on the lowest impact treatment pathway for a given waste stream. It can also provide insight into the characteristics most significant to the climate change impact of a given disposal pathway. Finally, the model can be incorporated into multi-criteria models to inform waste treatment and policy decisions.

[1] Gunders, Dana. "Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill." Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper. August. This report was made possible through the generous support of The California Endowment (2012). [2] Bernstad, Anna, and Jes la Cour Jansen. "Review of comparative LCAs of food waste management systems–Current status and potential improvements."Waste management 32.12 (2012): 2439-2455.

Forest Management and Land Use Impacts in LCA: Challenges and Considerations

ABSTRACT. Forests provide many important functions, goods, and services such as support for biological diversity, clean water, carbon storage, recreational opportunities, and the raw materials required to manufacture products that society needs and demands. Land uses, however, including the management that provides products and services from forests, have long been accompanied by dialogue about sustainability. Recently, that dialogue has expanded to include discussion about the environmental aspects of all stages in the production of goods and services and life cycle assessment (LCA) has emerged as a tool for organizing and considering relevant scientific information. One guiding principle in LCA is that all relevant environmental aspects to a product should be considered. As a result, there is growing recognition of the need to integrate consideration for land use impacts such as those related to forestry into LCA. Few LCAs have addressed the environmental aspects of land use, and there is ongoing debate about approaches for doing so. This presentation will discuss proposals for evaluating land use impacts in LCA, including the general framework proposed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) as well as different proposals for biodiversity and ecosystem services impact indicators for use in LCA in the context of forest management. Challenges will be highlighted. It will be shown that LCA is not currently suited to providing the reliable site-specific assessment results concerning the complexities of biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with land use, more specifically forest management, largely because of the complexities of biodiversity and the global and comprehensive nature of LCA. For instance, many proposed approaches rely on a single biodiversity indicator. Biodiversity, however, is a multi-dimensional concept that can never be fully represented by a single number. Reliance on a single metric over-simplifies “biodiversity” and will undoubtedly lead to inappropriate conclusions in LCA, thereby failing to support decision-making related to local land management practices. That said, using several indicators to characterize biodiversity may lead to unfair comparisons in the context of other LCA single-indicator metrics such as climate change. It will be highlighted that there is nonetheless a need to integrate consideration for land use such as forestry within life cycle approaches, potentially through the use of complementary site-specific and/or territorial assessment approaches.

Biodiversity as a fuzzy impact category

ABSTRACT. Biodiversity as an impact assessment category has been on the LCA research agenda for a while. What makes it so difficult to grasp is the inherent fuzzyness of the safeguard subject. Definitions for biodiversity exist, but there are so many aspects to it that picking one (over all others) seems inappropriate for appreciating biodiversity as a whole.

We propose a composite indicator that embraces the fuzziness and aims at including all relevant aspects of biodiversity. It calculates the biodiversity value of a patch of land as is needed for the UNEP-SETAC framework on land use in LCA. While we did report on intermediate stages of the development at earlier occasions, we now have (1) a well-defined framework, as well as (2) a tangible case study on forestry in Scandinavia.

In the case of the Scandinavian taiga, biodiversity depends on eleven parameters that describe the age structure of a tree stand, its species diversity, the amount and diversity of deadwood, protected areas, and disturbances. The connection between these parameters and the biodiversity value of the land is made through a mathematical framework loosely based on fuzzy modeling and potential theory. A biodiversity contribution function is defined for each parameter. Biodiversity contributions from interacting parameters yield a joint biodiversity contribution based on operations taken from fuzzy set theory. Finally, the joint biodiversity contributions are linearly aggregated to form the so-called biodiversity potential of the patch of land. The framework is generic, so it can be applied to any ecoregion. It is filled with ecoregion-specific expert knowledge through a series of interviews.

So far, biodiversity is often assessed based on land cover classes and correlation with species diversity. Our approach is not limited to only one aspect of biodiversity but allows the inclusion of multiple aspects. Other approaches have difficulties reflecting details of land mangement. With our approach, we demonstrate how land management affecting biodiversity can be appreciated in LCA.

Capturing the benefits of responsible forestry practices in LCA: focus on biodiversity

ABSTRACT. Companies and communities are increasingly adopting responsible sourcing practices in their supply chain. However, the benefits of using responsibly sourced products are still difficult to quantitatively capture in the context of life cycle assessment (LCA) in particular with regards to their benefits for biodiversity or ecosystem services. Nestlé, a company aiming at adopting responsible sourcing practices throughout its supply chain, UPM, one of their suppliers and a global leader in sustainable forest management practices, along with Quantis, a company expert in LCA, have developed an approach to quantify the ecological benefits of responsible forest management practices using environmental indicators typically used in LCA, including impact on ecosphere/ecosystem quality (in PDF.m2.y), land use (in m2.y), and GHG emissions. The aim was to build a solid methodology that can capture, within an LCA context, the relevant differences between conventional and responsible forestry practices for several case studies, of which semi-natural forest in Finland is presented. The study is for one cubic meter of wood, at mill gate, and encompasses the inputs for forestry management, activities on the logging site, logistics until the mill gate and the differences in energy inputs and outputs for heat recovered from wood residues in the mill. The use of the wood fiber based product and its end-of-life are not considered (considered identical for all types of wood sourcing). Carbon uptake and all GHG emissions are considered. The method for biodiversity accounts for four indicators, native tree species composition, deadwood volume and quality, protected valuable habitats, and forest structure, that are grouped into one indicator between 0 and 1. The results show that responsible practices have consistently lower impacts than conventional practices for all indicators, in Finland. For example, when quantified in PDF.m2.y, the impacts on Ecosphere/Ecosystems Quality for responsible forestry practices are about half of those for conventional practices. This method can objectively capture the benefits of biodiversity protection in wood fiber production. Companies can use it in complex LCAs to consistently quantify impacts and benefits in supply chain. This method can be used to communicate externally about the benefits of biodiversity protection associated with responsible wood sourcing within an LCA context in a more robust way than what is done until now.

13:30-15:00 Session 8B: Energy 2: Natural Gas

This session will present latest research on life cycle GHG emissions and other life cycle metrics of natural gas for different uses including power generation, liquefied natural gas and methanol liquid transportation fuel.


Location: 2309
Life-cycle CO2 emissions of synthetic methanol production by direct electrocatalytic reduction: Impact of catalyst performance

ABSTRACT. Direct electrocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (eCO2RR) is one of several technologies being developed as a low-emissions route to energy-dense liquid transportation fuels for a carbon-constrained future.[1,2] This technology would avoid net emissions from fuel combustion, because capturing the CO2 used to produce the fuel would fully offset the emissions from combusting it. Although extensive basic-science catalysis research is underway in this area [3,4,5], the full life-cycle emissions of this technology platform have not been quantified.

This work uses a hybrid LCA approach to estimate the relative importance of catalyst material and catalyst performance in determining the overall life cycle emissions of methanol produced using a eCO2RR process. The CO2 reduction electrocatalyst (typically a transition metal or alloy) and the carbonaceous support are incorporated using process-based LCA. For the balance of the CO2 reduction cell system, a water electrolyzer is used as a surrogate technology, and incorporated using input-output LCA.

The reference case eCO2RR system contains a nanoparticulate copper catalyst (100 nm particle diameter) that reduces CO2 to methanol with 25% current efficiency and a current density of 0.5 A cm-2. In a preliminary analysis, the total system CO2 emissions are 1.24 g CO2 / g methanol, and 99% of these emissions are from generating the electricity used to drive the electrocatalytic reduction. The CO2 capture process, the product purification process, and the embodied emissions in the process equipment each contribute 1% or less to the CO2 intensity of the methanol product. The CO2 intensity is therefore influenced by those technical parameters relevant to the generation and use of the electric power: the CO2 intensity of the electricity; the thermodynamic efficiency of the catalyst; and the catalyst's selectivity for the desired product.

This analysis framework quantifies (1) the emissions impact of using eCO2RR to provide drop-in liquid hydrocarbon fuels, and (2) the emissions impact of specific scientific/technology advances when incorporated into a eCO2RR fuel synthesis process. This approach provides a long-term emissions impact perspective to guide priorities in catalysis research for sustainability.

AUTHOR NOTE: I will only be able to present this work on Oct. 7 or Oct. 8, as I will not be at the conference on Oct. 6. (I would prefer Oct. 8 if possible.) In addition, I am the organizer of a proposed special session on net energy analysis (submission 63) and would need to avoid a conflict if this session is approved for the conference. Thank you - MP



1. Prospects of CO2 Utilization via Direct Heterogeneous Electrochemical Reduction. Whipple, D. and Kenis, P. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2010, 1, 3451-3458.

2. Recycling of carbon dioxide to methanol and derived products – closing the loop. Goeppert, A.; Czaun, M.; Jones, J.P.; Prakash, G. K. S.; Olah, G. Chem. Soc. Rev., 2014,43, 7995-8048.

3. Status and perspectives of CO2 conversion into fuels and chemicals by catalytic, photocatalytic and electrocatalytic processes. Evgenii V. Kondratenko, E.; Mul, G.; Baltrusaitis, J.; Larrazabal, G.; Perez-Ramırez, J. Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 3112-3135.

4. Catalysis of the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. Costentin, C.; Robert, M.; Saveant, J.-M. Chem. Soc. Rev., 2013, 42, 2423-2436.

5. Conversion of carbon dioxide into methanol – a potential liquid fuel: Fundamental challenges and opportunities (a review). Ganesh, I. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 31, 2014, 221–257.

Liquefied natural gas for the UK: a life cycle assessment

ABSTRACT. The Liquefied Natural gas (LNG) will be an increasing energy supply for the UK while the national reserves of the continental shelf are diminishing. In the context of an increased global push towards renewable and low carbon energy technology, the LNG rises controversy about the carbon footprint of the entire life cycle. Hence, this comprehensive study analysed the carbon footprint and also all other environmental impacts of the LNG supply to the UK within the new project Qatargas II. New tanker ships and facilities were assumed to be used in the analysis and the entire life cycle of the LNG supply chain, from the gas extraction to the distribution to the consumer, has been included in the assessment. The main findings of this study show how the operations specifically associated with LNG production, that includes natural gas liquefaction, transport and vaporization, significantly influence the environmental impact of the total supply chain and hence they cannot be considered negligible in a complete environmental assessment. The sensitivity analysis has analysed the influence of some key parameters, such as energy requirements of the liquefaction and vaporisation processes, fuel for propulsion, days of navigation (that is shipping distance), tanker volume and composition of raw gas. The case study here reported highlights how i) long distance for LNG transport and ii) natural gas processing including sweetening, liquefaction and vaporisation, are the key aspects that can alter the total environmental burdens.

GHGfrack: An open-source LCA model to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from hydraulic fracturing
SPEAKER: Kourosh Vafi

ABSTRACT. Production of petroleum and natural gas from low permeability rocks is expanding quickly due to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. One immediate impact of this operation on the environment is the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere. GHGs are emitted by combustion of diesel fuel to supply the required energy for rotation of the drill bit, circulation of drilling fluids, and injection of high pressure water to crack the formation. GHGs can also be emitted during the completion and “flow back” process, wherein fugitive methane emissions can be released. These emissions should be accounted to properly assess the carbon intensity of the produced fuels. We developed a detailed engineering-based model to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from drilling of oil and gas wells and from hydraulic fracturing operations. Our model includes drilling of directional wells, drilling mud circulation, and the hydraulic horsepower of fracturing operations. The mathematical sophistication of the model is comparable to the software used in drilling operations, but it is tailored for use by LCA practitioners and for the regulatory system where the transparency and accessibility by the public is a key requirement. The model is equipped with an automatic mode that intelligently suggests the torque value and other input parameters, allowing use without access to detailed geological or technical data. The user can calibrate the model with their own set of field data if available. We present the structure and construction methods for building the model. We then discuss the verification and calibration of the model with data on diesel fuel consumption during drilling of vertical and horizontal wells. We use this model to estimate GHGs emitted from hydraulic fracturing of more than 7000 oil wells in the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. Lastly, we discuss sensitivity analysis to show key input parameters.

Methane Leakage in LCA: Quantifying the Effect of Fugitive Methane Emissions on Greenhouse Gas Inventories
SPEAKER: Emily Grubert

ABSTRACT. Natural gas is an important fuel in the global energy economy, and many hope that natural gas can serve as a lower pollution bridge fuel to a cleaner energy economy, both in terms of traditional pollutants and climate pollutants. One major question about natural gas’ climate impacts is the amount of methane leakage from the natural gas fuel cycle, and in turn, how easy reducing methane leakage might be. Life Cycle Assessment is frequently used for evaluating and comparing the greenhouse gas emissions impacts of products and processes, including many that directly or indirectly rely on natural gas. Indeed, given natural gas’ large role in the electricity and manufacturing sectors in many parts of the world, natural gas is involved in the total life cycle of an extremely large number of products and processes.

Many studies rely on emissions factors from a few impact inventories like EcoInvent or GaBi, in part because primary data gathering for every possible element of a life cycle inventory is generally not possible. Due to this common reliance, however, the importance of accuracy is even greater for inventories associated with very common inputs like natural gas.

This study investigates the current treatment of methane leakage rates for natural gas in common LCA software, including GaBi and SimaPro. We first evaluate the current level of methane leakage assumed in common inventories and compare it with best-estimate leakage rates in the recent literature. We also test sensitivity to a range of methane leakage rates based on field-verified measurements from the United States and Australia. To demonstrate the relevance of methane leakage to LCA outputs, we then use LCA software to estimate greenhouse gas impacts for a diverse set of products and processes as a function of the assumed methane leakage rate. We present results for a set of common input commodities, including electricity, steel, concrete, plastics, and grain. As an example, we also present results for several common consumer goods for which LCA studies are common in the literature.

13:30-15:00 Session 8C: Electricity

This session will cover electricity as it relates to: (1) manufacturing sector requirements and monetizing the life cycle benefits for increased grid integration, (2) options for Turkey to manage tradeoffs between life cycle environmental, social, and economic sustainability of their electricity mix, and (3) life cycle environmental benefits of batteries and power-to-gas as storage options. Discussion will focus on understanding the important inputs of these LCAs and how the results can be applied. 

Key Discussion Points:

  1. What are the most important assumptions/inputs in your LCA?
  2. What are the biggest barriers to achieving optimal results of your LCA?
  3. What kind of support from government/industry would be ideal to achieve the optimal results of your LCA?
  4. How will your results be impacted by a changing grid mix (e.g., increased reliance on natural gas and renewables)?
Location: 2306
Life cycle human toxicity and ecotoxicity assessment of bioenergy strategy in decarbonizing Alberta's electricity grid system

ABSTRACT. Renewable energy generation sources are becoming more diverse as concerns over sustainable development grows. Bioenergy source is promising in addressing Alberta's sustainable development by increasing electricity generation capacity and mitigating climate change. However, energy systems are complex and may result in shifting of impacts if their effects beyond climate change are not examined. Human toxicity and ecotoxicity is important aspect of environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems that remains largely unstudied (1). About 85% of Alberta's electricity generation installed capacity is mainly from fossil fuels. Electricity consumption has also been growing at an alarming rate due to population growth and power-intensive economic development. Alberta has a wealth of renewable biomass resource potential that can decarbonize the electricity grid system in terms of GHG emissions. Not all renewable energy strategies are environmentally sustainable. Exposure to air pollution claimed lives of around seven million people worldwide in 2010, largely from biomass combustion for cooking and heating in households (2). This research applied a life cycle assessment approach to examine the human toxicity and ecotoxicity effects of three bioenergy pathways, namely monocombustion of wood biomass, monocombustion of pellets, and biomass integrated gasification and combined cycle (BIGCC) for the case of Alberta. Our preliminary analysis of BIGCC and coal fired at power plant (i.e. excluding raw material extraction and infrastructure) systems showed that bioenergy systems significantly reduce both human toxicity, non-cancer and ecotoxicity impacts. Human toxicity, cancer was a trade-off. The environmental impact per kWh coal-fired electricity generation was 5.34E-12CTUh human toxicity, cancer, 2.85E-13CTUh human toxicity, non-cancer, and 0.000361CTUe ecotoxicity. On the other hand, BIGCC resulted in 1.44E-09CTUh human toxicity, cancer, 6.49E-17CTUh human toxicity, non-cancer, and 2.46E-06CTUe ecotoxicity impacts per kWh. Climate change could not be used as a single indicator to represent the environmental sustainability of a system (3). Quantifying the life cycle toxicity effects of bioenergy systems can support energy strategy and policy making by providing a complete picture of the environmental sustainability of the product. When considering bioenergy as alternative to fossil fuels we must better understand not only climate change impact but also potential impacts on human health and ecosystems.

LCA Harmonization for Carbon Capture and Sequestration in Coal-fired Power Plants

ABSTRACT. CCS technologies have the potential to become a widely-used option for low-carbon electricity in the power-generation industry in general, and more specifically in the coal-fired power industry. Briefly, CCS collects and compresses CO2 from point sources, including those in the power-generation industry, and then transports CO2 typically by pipeline into deep geological formations. In this paper, the life cycle assessment (LCA) harmonization approach has been applied to the amine-based post-combustion carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) with the aim of reducing the variability observed in the published literature for four environmental impact categories: (1) global warming potential (GWP), (2) acidification potential (AP), (3) eutrophication potential (EP), and (4) cumulative energy demand (CED). The harmonization procedure was applied to the results of 42 published studies representing 57 environmental impact estimates, which were then refined to 44 estimates representing various coal-fired technologies. In both the published and harmonized results, a considerable reduction in GWP was observed for all coal-fired technologies. This reduction was associated with an increase in demand for input materials, which would subsequently increase the indirect air emissions throughout the technology value chain. As a result, an increase in CED was observed for all coal-fired technologies, while the impacts on the AP and EP categories varied from case to case. The LCA harmonization exercise has provided meaningful representative data for analysts and decision makers, and statistical information about the impact categories is presented separately for each coal-fired technology.

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Electricity Options for Turkey

ABSTRACT. Turkey is one of the fastest growing energy markets in the world with a rapidly growing economy and population so that meeting energy demand in a sustainable way is important for the country. Based on previous work investigating the life cycle environmental, economic and social sustainability of electricity generation [1-4], this study evaluates energy technologies for Turkey in order to identify most sustainable options.

The study considers the options currently present in the Turkish electricity mix: lignite, hard coal, natural gas, hydro (large and small reservoir and run-of-river hydropower), onshore wind and geothermal. Each technology is assessed using 20 sustainability indicators, addressing 11 environmental, three economic and six social aspects. LCA, life cycle costing and various social indicators have been used for these purposes.

The results suggest that trade-offs are needed, as each technology is better for some sustainability indicators but worse for others. For example, coal has the highest environmental impacts, except for ozone depletion for which gas is the worst option; gas is the cheapest in terms of capital cost and has the lowest worker injuries and fatalities, but it provides the lowest life cycle employment and has the highest levelised costs. Geothermal is the best option for seven environmental impacts but has the highest capital cost. Large reservoir has the lowest depletion of elements and fossil resources as well as acidification and small reservoir is the best option for the global warming potential but both provide low employment. Being fuel free, renewable options score highly for the energy security indicators. Given these trade-offs, the optimal outcome will depend on stakeholder views of the importance of each sustainability indicator. Therefore multi-criteria decision analysis is needed to determine which technologies are preferable: while the outcome depends on the weightings applied, renewables (particularly hydropower) consistently outperform the fossil fuel options.

As far as the authors are aware, this is the first attempt of a sustainability assessment that has been carried out for Turkey’s electricity sector aiming to inform policy makers and electricity generators on the impacts and hotspots and help plan a more sustainable electricity supply for the future.

References 1. Santoyo-Castelazo, E. and A. Azapagic, Sustainability assessment of energy systems: Integrating environmental, economic and social aspects. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2014. 80(0): p. 119-138. 2. Stamford, L. and A. Azapagic, Life cycle sustainability assessment of electricity options for the UK. International Journal of Energy Research, 2012. 36(14): p. 1263-1290. 3. Gujba, H., Y. Mulugetta, and A. Azapagic, Environmental and economic appraisal of power generation capacity expansion plan in Nigeria. Energy Policy, 2010. 38(10): p. 5636-5652. 4. May, J.R. and D.J. Brennan, Sustainability assessment of Australian electricity generation. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2006. 84(2): p. 131-142.

Life Cycle Assessment of integrated energy storage: methodological challenges and case study results

ABSTRACT. Increasing the share of renewable energy in electricity supply is one of the key measures for mitigating climate change, improving air quality, and reducing dependency on fossil fuels. However, the renewable technologies with the highest worldwide potential – wind turbines and photovoltaic panels – are intermittent electricity generators. Since supply and demand in the power system must be balanced, surplus renewable electricity needs to be curtailed, directly stored, or converted into other energy carriers. Today, a variety of storage technologies with different characteristics and preferred applications exist [1]. However, these technologies have hardly been consistently evaluated from the environmental perspective. Existing LCA studies concerning energy storage often feature methodological shortcomings and lack an appropriate systemic perspective, not taking into account the integration of energy storage in the overall energy system [2, 3, 4]. We discuss methodological challenges in LCA of energy storage and present results from case studies evaluating the environmental benefits and potential drawbacks of a) using batteries in regional electricity supply systems with large photovoltaic capacities and b) converting renewable electricity into hydrogen and synthetic methane using “power-to-gas” technologies. Preliminary results indicate that employing batteries can provide environmental benefits if used in an optimized layout of the electricity system; the environmental performance of hydrogen and synthetic methane from “power-to-gas” technologies crucially depends on the source of electricity used for electrolysis, on the source of CO2 for methane production, and on methodological issues such as allocation procedures and reference technologies used for comparative assessment. We conclude that combining intermittent renewable electricity generation and storage technologies can improve the environmental performance of the overall energy system. However, these storage technologies have to be used in an intelligent way and maximising their environmental benefits requires further research explicitly taking into account systemic, temporal and geographical aspects in LCA.

[1] Luo, X., et al. (2015). "Overview of current development in electrical energy storage technologies and the application potential in power system operation." Applied Energy 137(2015): 511-536. [2] Sternberg, A. and A. Bardow (2015). "Power-to-What? - Environmental assessment of energy storage systems." Energy & Environmental Science, 2015, 8, 389-400. [3] Reiter, G. and J. Lindorfer (2015). "Global warming potential of hydrogen and methane production from renewable electricity via power-to-gas technology." The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 20(4): 477-489. [4] von der Assen, N., et al. (2013). "Life-cycle assessment of carbon dioxide capture and utilization: avoiding the pitfalls." Energy & Environmental Science 6(9): 2721-2734.

13:30-15:00 Session 8D: Special Session: LCA Data Interoperability - New Solutions to Old Challenges

Despite specifications in LCA like ISO 14048 and internationally-recognized exchange formats like Ecospold and ILCD, LCA practitioners continue to struggle with basic problems of LCA data interchange. Data are simply not easily merged from different LCI and LCIA sources and are not available in forms that enable users to easily bring them into their tools of choice. This can result in lack of availability of data and even more alarming inconsistences in implementation in LCA software that can result in differences in LCA results from the same datasets. New tools have recently emerged that attempt to tackle these issues. To what extent can new tools and data formats help us solve this problem, or do we need to totally rethink how we structure and create LCI and LCIA data? Among the new solutions are new approaches to LCA data development and metadata, new open-source tools providing translation capabilities, and new data formats and technologies that could possibly make smart, machine readable use of LCA data. The purpose of this session is to summarize the outstanding issues and present recently developed solutions, to discuss pros and cons of each, and to suggest a path forward in the community in which one or more of these tools and technologies can become mainstreamed to make use of data more possible and powerful for the average LCA practitioner. Outcomes of this discussion will hopefully inform existing initiatives, such as the recently formed Global Network for LCA Databases, on how best to address data interoperability challenges.

Location: 2301
LCIA implementation in software: Alarming differences
SPEAKER: Pascal Lesage

ABSTRACT. It is generally well known that the choice of Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database or Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) method can have a significant effect on the results of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). What is less well known is that the choice of LCA software can also drastically affect results, even when using the same LCI data and the same LCIA method. Such discrepancies were informally alluded to in some circles of the LCA community, and a paper recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Industrial Ecology (Speck et al., 2015) confirms, for four packaging-related product systems, that there can indeed be differences, and that these differences can affect the conclusions of one’s study. The work presented here compares the results of all ecoinvent 2.2 product systems characterized using both CML and ILCD recommended methods in SimaPro and GaBi, resulting in 3999 comparisons per impact category. While results were very similar for some impact categories (acidification from ILCD recommended methods, global warming from both methods). On /average/, differences were also quite minimal. However, for many impact categories, hundreds of results which should be the same were different by at least one order of magnitude. In some extreme cases, differences were over 5 orders of magnitude. In cases where the datasets associated with these significant differences were significant contributors in a given product system, the conclusions of an LCA could very much be dictated by the choice of software more than the actual environmental performance of the assessed product. The severity of differences for some impact categories can undermine the very credibility of the software tools and, by extension, of LCA itself. The discrepancies are based on differences in interpretation and implementation of elementary flows (LCI) and characterization factors (LCIA). Tools aimed at facilitating cross-platform data transfer and nomenclature harmonization can help. However, a discussion among software providers, LCIA method developers and LCI database providers will be required to root out differences in interpretation of basic data generated by various actors in order to harmonize the implementation of databases and LCIA methods in software tools.

Can't we all get along? The pain and promise of LCA data interchange
SPEAKER: Chris Mutel

ABSTRACT. Exchanging LCA data with other people or software systems is much more difficult than it needs to be. In this presentation, I examine the current LCA data formats, and discuss the difficulties in linking projects and databases to other projects and databases. Detailed linking algorithms for each data format and software system are provided and illustrated with real world example projects and inventory databases. I also explain and compare the specific problems of each format.

Preliminary results include the following: - Different versions of the biosphere make it difficult or impossible to link even the same database when exported by different software systems - Some inventory databases are not internally consistent - Alteration of process names, units, and categories presents a significant barrier to linking process flows - Failing to support international text in standard encodings (e.g. unicode and utf-8) presents a significant barrier to linking process flows - LCA software as a whole is weakened by a lack of real competition or expectation of interoperability

To address some of these challenges, I developed new software for linking disparate data sources and formats, called brightway2-io [1]. This software recognizes that real-world data sources are messy, and that perfect algorithmic linking is impossible. Given these constraints, sets of linking strategies can be applied in an iterative process by LCA practitioners until a "good enough" result is reached. The software is demonstrated with real data examples.

This presentation was supported by SCCER Supply of Electricity.


Submitted to special session "LCA Data Interoperability: New Solutions to Old Challenges"

The LCA Harmonization Tool

ABSTRACT. Use of best available data to support life cycle assessments (LCA) is hampered by differences in nomenclature between different datasets. Overcoming these differences is a particularly challenging task because of the size of LCA datasets and the continuous generation of new data. The Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization Tool (LCA-HT) uses advanced technology based on semantic web architecture that will semi-automate the process of harmonizing elementary flows in life cycle inventory (LCI) and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) datasets. Datasets are imported as lists of elementary flows or as full LCI or LCIA datasets in a newly defined JSON-LD format for LCA. Elementary flows are broken down into components including the material or chemical, compartment, and unit, and harmonized against a user-defined master lists of each of these components. Elementary flows for LCI and LCIA are matched to assure that impact assessment calculations capture all characterized flows. Harmonized lists can be exported as text files or imported into openLCA software. The LCA-HT is a stand-alone OS independent desktop tool that is open-source and will be freely available. An overview of the tool will be given, features explained, and current limitation and next steps discussed.

JSON-LD: A smarter format for LCA data interchange

ABSTRACT. For long, there has been debate about different LCA data formats, about conversion issues between different data formats, and about enabling better data exchange between existing LCA software systems and LCA users. Currently existing LCA data formats are all based on XML, a standard that has emerged at the end of the 1990’s. Overcoming all issues in data conversion seems an enormous effort, partly also because of the limitations of XML, but also because of incompatible concepts between different LCA formats. We are proposing a new data format for LCA data exchange. The format uses JSON-LD, which is a lightweight, modern format for linked data, suited also for large data amounts; it is meanwhile used by major search engines including google for structuring information. A first implementation is available in the open source LCA software openLCA, in a recent project commissioned by US EPA. The new format has several advantages over the existing LCA data formats. It links directly to ontologies for LCA and is lean and human-readable at the same time. It offers further the chance to overcome existing differences in LCA data formats, and thus improve data exchange. The format will be shortly explained and demonstrated, differences and advantages will be discussed. One of the discussion points will be whether it is possible to include and provide the format also for other LCA software systems.

Ontology Design Patterns for Semantically Enriched LCA

ABSTRACT. The Semantic web refers to a set of technologies concerned with the assignment of meaning to data. Semantic web tools are designed to facilitate the automated interpretation of data by documenting the relationships among entities and articulating rules of inference about those relationships. An ontology design pattern (ODP) is a description of a set of concepts and their relationships in a particular applicaton domain, put in terms of formal logic. The objective of creating an ODP is to encode a description of some aspect of the world for a specific purpose. Once created, an ODP can serve as a guide for putting data resources in the application domain into semantic terms.

In this talk we present the outcomes of a workshop conducted in March 2015 to develop a set of ODPs for the domain of life cycle assessment in an event called a "Vocabulary Camp." The workshop collected a group of LCA domain experts (including several special session co-presenters) together with a group of semantic data engineers. The objective of the meeting was to begin to develop a set of ODPs that could be used as a common basis for efforts to semantically enrich LCA data.

The group worked on three distinct and complementary patterns, which correspond to the formative LCA concepts of "Flow", "Activity", and "Environmental Impact." Expressed as collections of logical axioms, the patterns can be applied to existing LCA data sets and serialization formats to relate heterogeneous data sources under a shared conceptual model. Because the relationships are formally specified, data described in their terms can be easily interpreted and reasoned about by automated tools, promoting interoperability efforts without restricting diversity or flexibility in data management.

Moderated Discussion
15:00-15:30Coffee Break
15:30-17:00 Session 9A: Methods 4: Towards Improved Comparability

The papers presented in this session consider several different aspects of LCA – from reducing the geographical uncertainty of data from Ecoinvent; through tools for improved dissemination of LCA studies, product comparison with additional consideration of usefulness and user appreciation, and life cycle sustainability assessment for supply-chain decision making; to the development of a method of assessing impacts in terms of the finite capacity of the planet. These papers will improve the comparability of results from studies based on LCA methodology, with the last calling into question the value of comparing such results solely with the impacts of other human activities.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Is enough detailed geographical information available for most LCA studies to enable geographically disaggregated data to be used?
  2. Input-output is a top-down approach. Process-based is a bottom-up approach. What are the limitations of combining two datasets from these two different approaches?
  3. How can a tool allowing evaluation of results sufficiently disguise confidential information from back calculation?
  4. How does the multi-attributional analysis presented by Kuei-Yuan compare to existing life cycle sustainability assessment methodologies?
  5. Should more studies be applying LCSA methodologies rather than LCA?
  6. If a Planetary Boundaries approach allows for impacts to be considered in absolute terms, how can we assess the significance of these impacts without reference to other human activities? And if we’re going back to comparison with other human activities, why is this approach an improvement on existing ones?
Location: 2311
Automatic differentiation of global datasets using input-output data
SPEAKER: Chris Mutel

ABSTRACT. Version 3.1 of the ecoinvent database [1] has between 5430 and 5870 activities with the location "rest of the world" or "global", depending on the system version. In this presentation, we first show how important these activities are, using contribution analysis and a variety of impact assessment methods. We then describe a simple model to disaggregate these activities to a finer spatial scale using data from the CREEA [2] input output database. Our objective is to regionalize the supply chain without excessive data collection.

Our first step is to understand what is meant by "rest of the world". This location is dynamically defined as everywhere not covered by a local dataset. We developed an open source library to map these dynamic regions for ecoinvent [3], and briefly illustrate its usage.

Both ecoinvent and CREEA identify activities using ISIC codes. We match these codes across both databases, using the most specific data available. We then use the region-specific CREEA production amounts to disaggregate ecoinvent processes to a finer spatial scale. The CREEA values act as allocation factors, and are normalized to sum to one. In contrast to most input-output databases, CREEA values are given in units of mass, not monetary value. Finally, inputs in the disaggregated activities are linked to local markets whenever possible. We illustrate the differences in regionalized LCA scores using the LC IMPACT method [4] for both database versions.

Although our case study cannot prove that such geographic disaggregation will reduce total system uncertainty, such a reduction in uncertainty is expected. Geographic disaggregation can also improve the interpretation of LCA results, showing the origin and trade patterns of environmental impacts, and selecting key regions and technologies for avoidance or improvement.

This presentation was supported by SCCER Supply of Electricity.

[1] Weidema, Bo Pedersen, et al. Overview and methodology: Data quality guideline for the ecoinvent database version 3. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, 2013. [2] [3] [4]

A Multi-Attributes Analysis Considering Products’ Environmental Impacts under Uncertainty

ABSTRACT. Product purchasing decision-making requires not only customers’ preferences, but also insightful performance metrics to ensure fair justifications are made. With the advancement of technology and the thriving social awareness, the number of factors on the choice of a product is increasing. Ideally, a product should be green, useful, and appreciated by users. Although the complexities involved in product comparison are yet to be fully understood through scientific investigation, we believe providing transparent product data is a way to help customers and product manufacturers select their ideal products, especially in the presence of uncertainties. In an attempt to scientifically compare two products, this paper proposes a method with three filters to measure how well a product performs in the aforementioned three dimensions. The first filter is based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) to estimate the environmental impacts associated to a product’s lifecycle to which the concept of mini-LCAs is added. The second filter considers technology and efficiency to determine how well a product performs its functions. The third filter uses a survey-based analysis to obtain customers’ preferences under uncertainties. In our method each filter provides not only grades based on which product comparison can be done, but also an index to show the degree of certainty, or uncertainty. Results from campus-wide surveys show the effectiveness of the proposed method in justifying each product.

Comparing Methods of Integrating Environmental, Economic and Social Dimensions of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

ABSTRACT. Growing environmental awareness and stringent environmental regulations are urging companies to look for sustainable opportunities in their supply chain (SC) that reduce environmental impacts while achieving economic and social benefits [1,2]. This interrelationship between the three dimensions of sustainability is addressed in the life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) methodology [3-6]. However, LCSA is still faced with the difficulty of integrating the three components of sustainability [6] for different types of LCSA methodologies (consequential, lead firm and educative). There are LCSA studies that have made efforts to help meet this challenge [e.g.7-13]. This review lays the foundation for a PhD project on developing a decision-making approach using LCSA that can guide large greenhouse gas emitters in Alberta, Canada develop sustainable strategies along their SC.

In light of the recent developments in LCSA, new approaches and methods proposed for the integration of environmental, economic and social dimensions of LCSA are reviewed [7-13] with the objective of identifying their strengths and weaknesses. A systematic comparison between these methods is made, focusing on the following factors: - Objective - Inventory indicators and categories for each dimension - Impact assessment method for each dimension - Aggregation procedure for the results of the three dimensions - Results presentation in decision-making - Outcome - Case study product systems

The review indicates that these frameworks have succeeded to integrate the three dimensions of sustainability and present the LCSA results. Yet, these approaches need further improvements. There are data quality, aggregating, and weighting issues that could increase uncertainty and subjectivity of LCSA results. In the reviewed approaches, not all relevant indicators, especially qualitative social indicators, were considered. Most of these approaches were examined for one or two case studies, making the implications difficult to generalize. Current approaches proposed were only applicable to consequential LCSA in order to compare sustainability performance of alternatives. There is still lack of lead firm LCSA approaches which evaluate the sustainability performance of companies and identify possible areas of sustainability improvements, targeting their processes.

By pointing out the strengths and limitations of LCSA methods and highlighting areas that call for new contributions, this work helps advance the development of this emergent field.


1. Ashby A., Leat M., Hudson-Smith M., 2012. Making connections: a review of supply chain management and sustainability literature. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 17(5), 497-516.

2. Beske, P., Seuring, S., 2014. Putting sustainability into supply chain management. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 19(3), 322-331.

3. Zamagni Alessandra, 2012. Life cycle sustainability assessment. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17, 373-376.

4. Valdivia, S., Ugaya, CML., Sonnemann, G., &Hildenbrand, J. (eds.), 2011. Towards a life cycle sustainability assessment. Making informed choices on products. ISBN: 978-92-807-3175-0 Paris 2011. Retrieved from

5. United Nation Environment Program, UNEP/SETAC, 2011. Towards life cycle sustainability assessment: Making informed choices on products, Retrieved from

6. Valdivia S., Ugaya C.M.L., Hildenbrand J., Traverso M., Mazijm B., Sonnemann G., 2013. A UNEP/SETAC approach toward a life cycle sustainability assessment – our contribution to Rio+20. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18, 1673-1685.

7. Traverso M., FinkbeinerM., Jorgensen A., Schneider L., 2012a. Life cycle sustainability dashboard. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 16(5), 680-688.

8. Traverso M., Asdrubali F., Francia A., Finkbeiner M., 2012b. Toward life cycle sustainability assessment: an implementation to photovoltaic modules. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17, 1068-1079.

9. Basurko O.C., Mesbahi E., 2014. Methodology for the sustainability assessment of marine technologies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 68, 155-164.

10. Foolmaun, R.K. and Ramjeawon, T., 2012. Life cycle sustainability assessments (LCSA) of four disposal scenarios for used polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in Mauritius. Environmental Development Sustainability, 15, 783-806.

11. Finkbeiner, M., Schau, E.M., Lehmann, A., Traverso, M., 2010. Towards life cycle sustainability assessment. Sustainability, 2, 3309-3322. doi:10.3390/su2103309

12. Vinyes E., Oliver-Sola J., UgayaC., Rieradeyall J., Gasol C.M., 2013. Application of LCSA to used cooking oil waste management. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18, 445-455.

13. Zhang, H., Haapala, K.R., 2014. Integrating sustainability manufacturing assessment into decision making for a production work cell. Journal of Cleaner Production, 1-12.

Planetary Boundaries as a basis for introducing absolute limits into strategic sustainability assessment.
SPEAKER: Roland Clift


“Sustainability” refers to the imperative to provide a decent quality of life for all humanity in perpetuity, within the constraints imposed by a finite planet. Currently, Life Cycle Assessment gives insufficient recognition to ecological limits: the environmental impacts of providing a product or service are, at best, assessed by normalising them against other human activities. Whilst this approach is helpful in informing choices between product formats and innovations (i.e. to answer the question ‘which is better?’) and for identifying life cycle hotspots, it is too limited to indicate how (un)sustainable the impacts are in absolute terms.

This paper outlines the initial stages of development of an approach to setting LCA-based targets for sustainability, recognising the finite capacity of the planet. It is based on the work of Steffen et al. [1] and Rockström et al. [2], who introduced an approach to defining and potentially quantifying ecological constraints, in terms of “Planetary Boundaries”. The Planetary Boundaries approach has been much discussed, but the focus in this contribution is on how it might be implemented in LCA, to set performance targets related to exogenous limits on resource availability or ecological resilience. The approach is explored for four of the boundaries - climate change, biodiversity, novel entities and water use –illustrating the challenges in developing the Planetary Boundaries approach into an operational tool.

As a specific application, the implications are explored of using Planetary Boundaries as targets for company innovation strategy and decision-making by a large multinational company in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) sector – Unilever. A number of fundamental issues must be addressed, including geographical localisation, quantification of some limits and equitable sharing of the available “ecological space”.

References 1. Steffen, Will et al. (2015) “Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet”, Science 347 (6223), 736-747. 2. Rockström, Johan et al. (2009) “A safe operating space for humanity”, Nature 461, 472-475.

15:30-17:00 Session 9B: Biofuels 1

Biofuels and bioenergy industry has evolved significantly in recent years. Commercial scale operating data are increasingly available, and technology development is becoming more holistic and data driven. This creates great opportunities to integrate LCA in process designs and planning scenarios to inform business decisions and policies to drive better outcome (the “triple bottom line”).

In this session, you will hear various case studies where LCA is used to enhance decision quality through (1) assessing environmental impact holistically across various categories for new technologies, (2) re-evaluating decision framework (system boundary and base case scenarios) to better understand trade-offs between alternatives and identify risk early, and (3) demonstrating benefits of including end-of-life issues in early decision making through quantitative analysis.   

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Alternative fuels and energy derived from biomass serve as a critical solution to climate change and greenhouse gas emission reduction, primarily due to its large volume potential, capability to utilize existing infrastructure, and flexibility in technologies that can convert waste materials into reusable forms of energy. Could you share your perspective on this through your experience with biofuels and bioenergy industry?
  2. What are some of the advantages and limitations of using LCA to evaluate products from biofuels and bioenergy systems and for informing decisions?
  3. What are some of the lessons learned?
  4. What are your recommendations/plans to further improve LCA applications in this industry? 
Location: 2309
Life Cycle Impacts of Using Renewable Produced Nitrogen Fertilizer for Corn Production

ABSTRACT. Fossil energy use in food, feed, and biofuel production systems currently links our agricultural production systems to fossil fuel availability, pricing and environmental impacts. Nitrogen fertilizers comprise a significant portion of this fossil dependency. A recently completed pilot-scale, wind-powered nitrogen fertilizer production facility has begun the manufacture of renewable anhydrous ammonia fertilizers. Previous life cycle assessment work [1] examined the global warming potential (GWP) and fossil energy intensity of fertilizer produced at a scaled-up version of this system. The system relies on energy exchanges with the electric grid during periods with little wind and therefore, does still have some reliance on fossil energy in grid electricity production. This study uses life cycle assessment to conduct a preliminary examination of the GWP and fossil energy intensity of corn production using renewably produced nitrogen fertilizer. In the cradle-to-gate assessment, the renewable ammonia fertilizer was used as a drop-in replacement of commonly used anhydrous ammonia. The grain production system was examined over a range of scenarios covering different ratios of wind and grid electricity in fertilizer manufacture. Results indicate that GWP and energy intensity impacts were dependent on the degree to which the renewable fertilizer production system used the grid backup. In scenarios where little grid power was needed for fertilizer manufacture, crops were less dependent on fossil fuels and emitted less CO2 equivalents. In scenarios with more linkage to the electrical grid, fossil use and CO2 emissions were greater than conventional fossil production of ammonia fertilizer. These results suggest that renewable nitrogen fertilizer can reduce fossil energy and related emissions in agricultural systems. However, care must be taken to examine the renewable fertilizer production system and its inputs. Based on these findings, more work should be conducted to look at reducing the need for grid backup electricity in wind-based fertilizer system.

Reference: [1] Tallaksen, J., F. Bauer, C. Hulteberg, M. Reese, S. Ahlgren, Nitrogen fertilizers manufactured using wind power: Greenhouse gas and energy balance of community-scale ammonia production. (in Press)

Environmental impact assessment of wood products for bioenergy in Europe

ABSTRACT. In the last years the world energy demand has rapidly increased as a consequence of the worldwide economic growth and development and it is expected to increase faster in the next decades. Therefore the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable resources is considered to be crucial. Among different ways of producing renewable energy, biomass represents one of the most promising energy source. In this context, this work aims to compare the environmental impacts of different biomass supply chains, as firewood and pellet produced in Europe. The differences between the biomass supply chains are assessed through a “gate to grave”. Life Cycle Assessment for the impact categories: Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP); Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP) and Human Toxicity Potential (HTP). The boundary of LCA takes into account the forest operations and does not consider tree seedling, site preparation, fertilizer and herbicide treatments because of the naturalistic silvicultural practice used in Italy. The environmental impacts were calculated based on the method CML 2001 – Apr. 2013 from the Leiden University. The functional unit is 1 MJ of energy for domestic heating. The majority of the emissions are constituted of biogenic carbon dioxide produced by the biomass combustion. In the case of firewood supply chain, the study has outlined that for the short supply chain the critical phase of the life cycle in terms of GWP, POCP and HTP is combustion. Moving to the long supply chain, the on-road transport is the most critical phase: the contribution to GWP becomes more than double than the short supply chain and five times higher to ODP. Concerning the pellet supply chain, it was found that some specific processes (burning, drying, pelletizing) are the biggest contributors for all the four impact categories. Comparing the two biomass production, firewood shows the lowest impacts because of the less energy intensive production processes. Although most of the chemicals emitted in the life cycle of biomass cannot be offset, a sustainable naturalistic forest management, common practice in Italy, can completely offset the fossil CO2 emissions, the largest emissive component of greenhouse gases.

Key Assumptions in Life Cycle Analysis of Woody Bioenergy Feedstocks

ABSTRACT. Concerns have been raised that using woody feedstocks for bioenergy (power and liquid fuels) incurs a carbon debt that takes a potentially unacceptably long time to repay. Analysis of woody feedstock-derived bioenergy relies on several key assumptions that influence the GHG emissions of this form of energy versus conventional, fossil energy for power plants and vehicles. In this presentation, we will examine two of these issues. The first is the fraction of harvested wood that is used to produce harvested wood products (HWP), which varies regionally and by tree type. The second is the type of counterfactual scenario that is used as the baseline. Both of these factors influence the carbon dynamics of forest systems in the context of bioenergy and the life-cycle GHG emissions of woody-derived bioenergy. When conducting an LCA of woody-derived bioenergy, an analyst must assume what fraction of harvested wood is used to produce bioenergy and what fraction is used to make different HWPs (e.g. construction lumber, paper). The range of expected lifetimes for various types of HWPs are found in literature, along with their landfill decomposition times. We will present different HWP splits for bioenergy-relevant forestry systems (e.g., loblolly pine in the Southeastern US) and illustrate the sensitivity of woody bioenergy life-cycle GHG emissions to these parameters. Secondly, woody bioenergy life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are generally compared against an alternative, counterfactual scenario. Typically, this scenario considers a forestry system that produces primarily HWPs, while only precommercial thinnings and forest residues are used for energy generation. Many other features characterize counterfactual scenarios and their design can have a significant influence on woody bioenergy analysis results. For example, counterfactual scenarios can feature different rotation lengths, timing of thinning events, or even alternative fates of forested lands (e.g., no harvest scenarios). We will discuss selection and design of counterfactual scenarios to permit relevant comparisons to woody bioenergy scenarios. Furthermore, we will illustrate how choice of counterfactual scenario affects the comparison of a scenarios in which forest-derived feedstocks are and are not used for bioenergy

15:30-17:00 Session 9C: Integrating Life Cycle in the Organization

As life cycle professionals we recognize the value of LCA, but often struggle to achieve maximum value as LCA is not well integrated with our organizations’ business practices.  In this session, hear from four speakers who have successfully overcome these challenges to realize environmental and business value.  Through this session, you will learn why integration is critical; how various organizations have achieved this; what their success factors were; what they’ve learned along the way; and ultimately how to translate those lessons into action at your own organization.  Sustainability challenges require dramatic changes to our collective performance that can only be achieved if life cycle thinking becomes integrated within key organizational functions.  We hope you can join us for an interactive and engaging session on this critical topic.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Why is it important to link life cycle activities to the organization and what are the success factors in doing that well? 
  2. What have been the lessons learned in pursuing this integration? 
  3. What are, or should be, the limits of this integration? 
  4. What advice would the panelists provide in terms of where to start?
  5. How do you balance LC thinking vs LCA practice?


Location: 2306
How much are life cycle activities contributing to your organizations top and bottom lines?

ABSTRACT. In the vast majority of organizations life cycle activities are being underfunded as their contributions to business value are not being fully recognized. The responsibility to address this sits with the LCA community – namely by translating the outcomes of our efforts into the traditional business language of revenue, cost, brand and risk. By speaking of these contributions in terms of their quantified contributions to business value and existing KPIs, we have the opportunity to unlock engagement, improved decision making, investments and ultimately reduced social and environmental impacts.

Based on a meta-analysis of the existing research and direct engagement with our clients, thinkstep has developed initial screening figures on sustainability’s contribution to business value. - Up to 3% of Revenue - Up to 4% reduction in bottom line savings - Up to 10% increase in brand value and employee attraction and retention - Up to 10% mitigation of risks

These initial estimates are based on broad assumptions and the typical performance of leaders within variety of sectors and markets. However, they provide a powerful stake in the ground for organizations to tailor to their own context, markets and products.

In this presentation, thinkstep will share the research behind these findings as well as provide guidance on how organizations can adapt them to themselves and realize the full business, social and environmental value potential of life cycle approaches. This session will appeal to LCA Practitioners, Sustainability Managers, Environmental Managers and Strategy and Planning Managers.

Catalyzing Life Cycle thinking in SABIC through a “Life Cycle Simulation Game”
SPEAKER: Naji Kasem

ABSTRACT. Life Cycle Thinking is a concept that allows us to make informed choices by taking into account environmental impact at each stage of the life cycle of a process, a product or a service. This concept is fast becoming an integral part of sustainability efforts undertaken by various organizations. As a part of continuing efforts to promote this culture of Life Cycle Thinking across SABIC through learning and engagement, the sustainability team developed an interactive simulation game that introduces our employees to Life Cycle Assessment concepts. The game allows users to make different choices throughout the life cycle of an automobile, within an allocated budget. This paper describes the methods used to identify and incorporate key concepts of life cycle assessments into this game so as to facilitate better understanding of life cycle concepts in a quick and simple manner. The game is developed around an automobile case study using the .net platform. Different stages where players must make choices include raw materials, manufacturing and assembly, use phase and end of life phase. This simulation game gives the player an opportunity to compare life cycle impacts of a polymeric product to other incumbent solutions. On completion, economic and environmental scores are generated which indicate the performance of the user against a benchmark score. GHG emission is considered as the key impact factor. The scoring and results in the game are modelled around actual LCA results. This paper brings out the logic used to link cradle to grave concepts with sequential steps used for making choices throughout the game. The concluding section also discusses the overall effectiveness of this game and the opportunities to broaden the scope to enhance learning effectiveness.

Life Cycle Assessment of a Feature Film
SPEAKER: Roland Geyer

ABSTRACT. Every year, millions of people go to theaters, watch DVDs, and stream content online. The U.S. motion picture industry has annual revenues of $31 billion, employs 375,000 people and produces of 75 feature films per year. Although some research exists on the environmental impacts of the movie industry or the viewing of a movie, current literature lacks an investigation of the full life cycle impacts of creating, distributing, and watching a motion picture.

While most LCAs assess a single, physical product, this study is novel in that it assesses a creative work that is manifested through various physical and digital formats. This research combines process-based and economic input-output analysis in order to generate inventory models for the five life cycle stages of a specific movie: Production, post-production, marketing, theatrical entertainment and home entertainment. System boundaries were expanded past studio activities to include consumer viewing and transportation behavior to more fully incorporate the film industry’s value chain. A functional unit of One Person Viewing Hour allows examination of impacts across various stages, as well as comparison across different viewing methods.

Eight impact categories from TRACI are used for impact assessment. The climate change impacts of the entire move life cycle, for example, are 119 million kg CO2eq, equivalent to powering 11,000 U.S. homes for one year. The eutrophication impacts are 334,000 kg of Neq, enough nitrogen to fertilize over 2,100 ha of corn fields. Impacts from studio activities are dominated by film production and disc manufacturing. However, the impacts from movie production, post-production and marketing are far outweighed by the impacts from movie viewing. The results also show that the environmental impacts of movie viewing methods vary by a factor of over ten.

The average American spends over half of the five hours of her daily leisure time watching movies or TV, which underscores the importance of understanding the life cycle impacts of this activity. Our research suggests that the environmental impacts are significant, but the majority of the burden lies within the viewing stages of a film life cycle. The movie industry has started to assess and manage the environmental sustainability of its activities. With its novel perspective the presented research provides critically important insights into the environmental hotspots of feature films and the possibilities to mitigate them.

Integrated Green Supply Chain Management @ Internet Age
SPEAKER: Hongtao Wang

ABSTRACT. Compared with how LCA and LCM is done conventionally, a more desirable way is to engage multi-tier supply chain for data collection, assessment and improvement. The latter is rarely implemented partly due to considerable difficulties in handling complicated information and workflows. On the other hand, many enterprises are continuously collecting environmental information from their multi-tier suppliers, such as hazardous substances content as required by RoHS and REACH directives, material content and recyclability ratio as required by WEEE or ELV directives, and mineral suppliers information as required by US Conflicting Minerals regulation. And the is also demand for environmental information by many green product programs such as EPEAT for electronics, Oeko-tex for textile and LEED for green buildings. To this end, an on-line system, named eFootprint/GPM, is being developed to collect LCA data and multiple types of environmental information along the multi-tier supply chain. The eFootprint/GPM has been applied in several pilot projects, including laptop, refrigerator, and air-conditioner. It makes complex LCA work more efficient. For example, in PCF study of Lenovo YOGA 3 laptop, more than 40 suppliers submitted their data within 3 weeks and passed third party verification. More ongoing pilot projects and data quality evaluation based on data representativeness and sensitivity will be elaborated on during the conference. This eFootprint/GPM system has the potential to provide an integrated solution for businesses which intend to implement comprehensive green supply chain management. Moreover, it may represent a new way to integrate LCA work with existing environmental management systems to make LCA more practical and popular.

15:30-17:00 Session 9D: Special Session: Factors Governing the Adoption and Support for an EPD

The success of Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) programs depends on several factors and stakeholders. This special session draws on the experience of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in developing an EPD program for asphalt mixtures following program development guidelines per ISO 14025:2006. In a variation from other related EPD programs, in this case, the program operator is an industry association with significant expertise in asphalt materials, rather than a central governmental agency. Organizationally, this is akin to a bottom-up consensus driven effort that directly engages stakeholders with voluntary adoption, driven by market forces; rather than a top-down mandatory regulatory process. This session is motivated by the need to understand the factors driving the consensus in order to manage the program and ensure its success. Hence, the objective of this special session is to discuss the factors that have influenced the development of an EPD program for the asphalt materials industry and others through an interactive discussion. The presenters will provide an industry perspective on the factors that have motivated this important step towards the adoption of life cycle assessment (LCA) in the industry, the lessons learned in the program development process, and the future strategies in negotiating challenges to industry wide adoption. The session will be organized into four parts featuring five speakers and a roundtable discussion. 

Location: 2301
Factors Governing the Adoption and Support for an Environmental Product Declaration Programs

ABSTRACT. The success of Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) programs depends on several factors and stakeholders. This special session draws on the experience of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in developing an EPD program for asphalt mixtures following program development guidelines per ISO 14025:2006. In a variation from other related EPD programs, in this case, the program operator is an industry association with significant expertise in asphalt materials, rather than a central governmental agency. Organizationally, this is akin to a bottom-up consensus driven effort that directly engages stakeholders with voluntary adoption, driven by market forces; rather than a top-down mandatory regulatory process. This session is motivated by the need to understand the factors driving the consensus in order to manage the program and ensure its success. Hence, the objective of this special session is to discuss the factors that have influenced the development of an EPD program for the asphalt materials industry and others through an interactive discussion. The presenters will provide an industry perspective on the factors that have motivated this important step towards the adoption of life cycle assessment (LCA) in the industry, the lessons learned in the program development process, and the future strategies in negotiating challenges to industry wide adoption. The session will be organized into four parts featuring five speakers and a roundtable discussion.

Part 1: Ron Sines, Vice President, Oldcastle Materials. As recent as two years ago, EPDs were not a priority at Oldcastle Materials, a major American producer of asphalt and concrete construction materials. Ron will provide the industry perspective on what led the industry to supporting EPD programs. He will also address (i) the role of market dynamics and changing green construction codes, (ii) the challenges in educating the industry about LCA and the EPD process, (iii) the critical role of engaging plant managers and other industry stakeholders in collecting and reporting data crucial to an LCA, and (iv) future challenges and opportunities of industry wide adoption of life cycle thinking and its role in bottom line decision-making.

Part 2: Heather Dylla, Director Sustainable Engineering, NAPA; and Amlan Mukherjee, Associate Professor, Michigan Technological University This presentation will reflect the experiences facilitating the Product Category Rules (PCR) development process and the related challenges in conducting the supporting LCA for asphalt mixtures. While the principles and framework for conducting an attributional LCA for products and processes have been provided in ISO 14040, the specifics of conducting an LCA for a particular product often leaves much room for varying assumptions. Hence, the PCR development involves a social negotiation process, reflecting differences in stakeholder priorities and perspectives. In this context, the primary challenge is to ensure technical rigor of the underlying LCA, while also recognizing the limitations of available inventory data. The presentation will discuss how these challenges were addressed, and present the outcomes of the LCA study; relating stakeholder dynamics to technical decisions that define the underlying PCR, and shape the future of the EPD program.

Part 3: Lianna Miller and Benjamin Ciavola, Life Cycle Solutions, LLC. While there is an emerging consensus among industry and agency stakeholders, regarding the usefulness of LCA as a methodology, and the necessity of having EPD programs, the challenges around delivering EPD to producers through a reliable, user friendly, economically viable and verifiably transparent process remains a challenge. The presenters will discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in a business model that can deliver EPD services through smart web-based automation, in the specific context of the asphalt industry.

Part 4: Audience Participation In order to draw out experiences from other industries, the presenters will break the audience into small groups to facilitate discussions. A series of questions will be developed in advance to guide the discussion. To conclude the special session, a representative from each group will be asked to present a short summary of their discussion to the group. The goal of this session is to engage multiple stakeholders in an active brainstorming session to identify lessons learned and best practices in EPD program implementation.

The LCA process is critical to quantifying environmental impacts of products and processes. However, a lack of standardized LCA delivery has been a stumbling block in its adoption in the decision-making process. It is expected that this special session will help shed light on how an EPD program that is developed through significant stakeholder engagement and based on principles of reliability, transparency and economic viability can play an important role in integrating the consideration of environmental impacts into corporate decision-making, taking us one step closer to triple bottomline thinking.

Supporting EPD Programs
SPEAKER: Ron Sines

ABSTRACT. As recent as two years ago, EPDs were not a priority at Oldcastle Materials, a major American producer of asphalt and concrete construction materials. Ron will provide the industry perspective on what led the industry to supporting EPD programs. He will also address (i) the role of market dynamics and changing green construction codes, (ii) the challenges in educating the industry about LCA and the EPD process, (iii) the critical role of engaging plant managers and other industry stakeholders in collecting and reporting data crucial to an LCA, and (iv) future challenges and opportunities of industry wide adoption of life cycle thinking and its role in bottom line decision-making.

PCR Development Process & Challenges
SPEAKER: Heather Dylla

ABSTRACT. This presentation will reflect the experiences facilitating the Product Category Rules (PCR) development process and the related challenges in conducting the supporting LCA for asphalt mixtures. While the principles and framework for conducting an attributional LCA for products and processes have been provided in ISO 14040, the specifics of conducting an LCA for a particular product often leaves much room for varying assumptions. Hence, the PCR development involves a social negotiation process, reflecting differences in stakeholder priorities and perspectives. In this context, the primary challenge is to ensure technical rigor of the underlying LCA, while also recognizing the limitations of available inventory data. The presentation will discuss how these challenges were addressed, and present the outcomes of the LCA study; relating stakeholder dynamics to technical decisions that define the underlying PCR, and shape the future of the EPD program.

Challenges around delivering EPD to producers

ABSTRACT. While there is an emerging consensus among industry and agency stakeholders, regarding the usefulness of LCA as a methodology, and the necessity of having EPD programs, the challenges around delivering EPD to producers through a reliable, user friendly, economically viable and verifiably transparent process remains a challenge. The presenters will discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in a business model that can deliver EPD services through smart web-based automation, in the specific context of the asphalt industry.

EPD creation for the building and construction sector: new software implementation and case study

ABSTRACT. The ultimate comparability, transparency and correctness of environmental product declarations (EPDs) depend on the consistency of the life cycle assessment (LCA) performed, the scope required by the correspondent Product Category Rule (PCR) and the quality of the EPD report. Taking into account the effort that all these tasks require, the voluntary character of this type III eco-label and that in 53% of the cases they are performed by small-medium size companies [1], tools to simplify and help through the procedure of an EPD creation might be an important benefit for the involved parties. In this context, the free, open source LCA software openLCA was extended to include an EPD editor with the support of the German institute for construction, urban and spatial planning (BBSR). This new editor, which is included as a plugin, allows to create and edit EPD datasets according to the international and European standards. Moreover, this new feature supports advanced ILCD format for EPD datasets and contains a data export functionality via the soda4LCA protocol, enhancing the interoperability and distribution of datasets. The editor has been specifically adapted to the construction sector by including the requirements of the EN 15804 [2]. For instance, the environmental information of the life cycle stages considered in the EPD is divided into the different information modules (e.g. A1, A2, etc.) and an impact assessment method containing the different categories required by the standard is also included. The new EPD editor has been applied in a case study about brick walls construction using the GaBi databases, which are prescribed in the PCRs to work with EPDs. Apart from identifying the environmental hotspots of the life cycle, the results were compared with the German database Ökobaudat, which contains EPD datasets for different products of the building and construction sector. As a side outcome of the study, the simplification in the compilation of the environmental data into the EPD datasets format was demonstrated. Therefore, this new functionality aims to facilitate the use of EPDs for communication purposes, as well as a source for eco-design strategies.

[1] Accessed April 29th 2015. [2] DIN EN 15804 (2012) Nachhaltigkeit von Bauwerken – Umweltproduktdeklarationen – Grundregeln für die Produktkategorie Bauprodukte

17:00-17:45 Session 10: Poster Session

Each poster author will have 3 minutes to present their poster.

Location: Great Hall
Life Cycle Optimization of High-gravity Carbonation Process in the Steelmaking Industry: Engineering, Environmental, and Economic (3E) Aspects
SPEAKER: Shu-Yuan Pan

ABSTRACT. Accelerated mineralization by the high-gravity carbonation (i.e., HiGCarb) process using a rotating packed bed has been considered as a viable technology for CO2 capture and utilization in a scalable manner, especially when alkaline solid wastes are used as the feedstock of the mineralization process. The CO2 source can be introduced directly from the industrial stacks, eliminating the need of additional CO2 capture and transportation prior to the HiGCarb process. In addition, the reacted product is suited as cement substitution material, avoiding environmental burden from the cement industry. In this study, the HiGCarb process was comprehensively evaluated according to engineering, environmental, and economic (3E) criteria through a triangle model. Since the complex relationships among the 3E aspects can be easily visualized on a ternary plot for different scenarios, the triangle graphical presentation can be used for evaluating key factors that are related but also complementary. The 3E triangle model considers the aspects of life-cycle environmental impact (LCEI) on the X axis, engineering performance (EP) on the Y axis, and life-cycle cost (LCC) on the Z axis. For the environmental aspect, the impacts and benefits of the entire process were quantified by Umberto 5.6 using ReCiPe midpoint and endpoint impact assessments. Eight LCEI indicators, e.g., global warming potential, freshwater ecotoxicity, ecosystem quality, human health, particulate matter formation, marine eutrophication potential, and urban land occupation avoided, were selected. According to the LCA results, the net CO2 capture amount by the HiGCarb process was 282 kg-CO2/t-BOFS, accompanied by a CO2 avoidance of 997 kg-CO2/t-BOFS due to the product utilization. A CO2 reduction potential of up to 6.5% in total CO2 emission from the steelmaking industry could be achieved. Significant environmental benefits were realized by establishing the waste-to-resource supply chain between the steelmaking and cement industries, i.e., from waste treatment to cement production. It was concluded that the HiGCarb process should be environmentally promising and economically feasible due to its high overall engineering performance, which was scalable as a potential CO2 sink in industry. An integrated portfolio of multi-waste treatment combined with CO2 capture in the steelmaking industry can be achieved by the HiGCarb process.

Residential heating in Montreal (Quebec) – life cycle analysis of different heating solutions to maintain thermal comfort.

ABSTRACT. Quebec household heating consumes nearly a third of provincial electricity production and it is dominated by resistance systems. These systems are discouraged by reference international organizations such as the International Energy Agency, whose recommendations are to move to more efficient technologies such as heat-pumps (1). In this study we want to address the environmental impact of different heating systems using a life cycle approach.

Environmental impact of different heating options for a typical house in Montreal are analyzed using attributional and consequential life cycle assessment. The technologies selected for comparison include electric cold-climate air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, gas furnaces and electric resistance heaters. The electricity mix of adjacent jurisdictions will be used to analyze the potential of electricity trade. The inventory data builds on the recent update of the process-based Ecoinvent database. Long-term marginal electricity and gas production are identified and updated using the latest information available. The operational energy use is based on numeric simulation of the different heating systems under standard weather conditions. Both the attributional and consequential approach are conducted to illustrate current environmental burden and the impact of changes in heating systems.

The presented results will help to identify what are the best options for household heating in terms of environmental impact. Preliminary results suggest that ground-source heat-pumps are the best technology to reduce environmental burden within the province of Quebec. While the results will illustrate the case of Quebec, they can be potentially useful for regions of similar weather and electricity mix such as Norway and British Columbia.

Beyond the lab – environmental performance of electromobility
SPEAKER: Roberta Graf

ABSTRACT. The transportation sector is responsible for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions [1]. One approach to tackle a reduction of those emissions while satisfying the mobility need of society is electromobilty. Life cycle assessment is the method of choice to quantify possible involved environmental benefits. Former publication could only draw on consumption measured in laboratory environments. Now real usage data is gathered and analyzed.

The project “PraxPerform E”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany, chaperons the “Modellregionen Elektromobiltät” (model regions of electromobility in Germany) by a comprehensive data monitoring and subsequent environmental assessment of real life electric car usage [2]. Within the project an extensive and detailed generic vehicle model was used for diverse evaluations. To enable those contemplations the used vehicles and their usage context were classified. Comparisons between categories as well as propulsion technologies were conducted. A wide scope of car segments, propulsion technics and use concepts was covered.

The current results show, that real life mileage as well as energy consumption are very diverse and heterogenic, a fact which is also reflected in the linked environmental impacts. Hence the environmental potentials of different utilization concept of electromobilty varies accordingly. The presented results highlight some of the identified potentials.

The study provides insight on the environmental impact assessment of electric cars beyond laboratory consumptions. The poster will give an overview of the approach and will discuss the monitored E-mobility concepts with exemplary LCA results. The evaluation is based on real life field tests with a wide range of utilization concepts. This facilitates specific assertions to the environmental performance of electromobility in real life.

[1] OECD/ITF: International Transport Forum. Reducing Transport Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Trends & Data. 2010 [2] BMVI: Bewertung der Praxistauglichkeit und Umweltwirkungen von Elektrofahrzeugen – Zwischenbericht. 2015

Life cycle assessment of concrete and asphalt pavements: a case study in the province of Quebec (Canada)

ABSTRACT. Road construction and maintenance are both important consumers of natural resources and energy. The two main pavement types used today, in the province of Quebec, is asphalt and cement concrete pavement. This branch of construction industry has a significant impact on the environment and therefore it could be of interest to find out which of the two has the least potential impact.

In this study a comparative attributional life cycle assessment was carried out for 1 km length of a pavement with 3 lanes in a rural area of Quebec and for a 50 year lifespan (defined as functional unit). The road engineering specifications was calculated based on Ministry of Transportation of Quebec codes. The data was majorly adopted from ecoinvent V. 3.1. Modeling was performed on OpenLCA software and Impact 2002+ was chosen to calculate problem and damage categories.

Preliminary results shows that asphalt has the largest potential impact in all 4 damage categories (Based on Impact 2002+ impact assessment method). Contribution analysis introduces Portland cement production and use phase as environmental hotspots in concrete and asphalt life cycle, respectively. In both systems, terresterial ecotoxicity is the main contributor midpoint category of ecosystem quality. For human health and resource damage categories, respiratory inorganics and non-renewable energy are the main contributors, respectively. The sensitivity analysis shows negligible effect of landfilling contribution on the damage categories, in comparison to transportation, where, concrete environmental impacts are more sensitive to transportation distance rather than asphalt system.

This study results will make possible for policy makers, project managers, construction engineers and users have a prospective in sustainable development of the pavement sector especially in Quebec area.

Life Cycle Assessment on Deacidification of Corn Stover Hydrolysate Liquor for Biofuel Production: Opportunity of Resin Wafer Based Electrodeionization
SPEAKER: Shu-Yuan Pan

ABSTRACT. Lignocellulosic biomass is considered to be one of the most promising feedstocks for biofuel production because it is the most abundant natural resource, and can be hydrolyzed to sugars and then fermented to biofuel (e.g., bio-ethanol) by various microbes. In the bio-conversion of lignocellulose to ethanol, pretreatment is an essential procedure to increase the accessibility and susceptibility of carbohydrates to enzymes and facilitate hydrolysis of lignocellulos to fermentable sugars. Among various pretreatments, the dilute-acid method using sulfuric acid (H2SO4) has been commonly used for hydrolyzing hemicellulose to sugars. However, several challenges detrimental to down-stream processing exist such as acidity of hydrolysate liquor and formation of the inhibitory compounds to fermentation. To address these issues, different methods such as overliming, ammonium hydroxide conditioning, and hydrophobic adsorbants, are proposed for conditioning the pretreated hydrolysate. As far, overliming is one of the most effective and economically viable methods, which improve most microorganisms’ ability to ferment sugars. In Argonne National Lab (ANL), a resin-wafer electrodeionization (RW-EDI) technology has been applied successfully to detoxify dilute acid pretreated solution and improve the down-stream enzyme hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation performance. However, the environmental benefits of the developed RW-EDI technology were not critically evaluated throughout the process life-cycle point of view. Therefore, the objectives of our study were (1) to quantify the environmental impacts of different types of the deacidification processes for corn stover hydrolysate liquor using life cycle assessment (LCA), (2) to estimate the processing cost of RW-EDI for various levels of organic acid removal, and (3) to evaluate the engineering, environmental, and economic (3E) performance for different types of processes. The environmental impacts and benefits of different types of deacidification processes were quantified by LCA using Umberto 5.6 with the ReCiPe methodology for both midpoint and endpoint assessments. The functional unit was set to be one kilogram dry corn stover biomass to be treated. A total of ten mid-point impact indicators, i.e., WDP (water depletion potential), GWP (global warming potential), FEP (freshwater eutrophication), HTPinf (human toxicity), METPinf (marine ecotoxicity), MEP (marine eutrophication), PMFP (particulate matter formation), POFP (photochemical oxidant formation), TAP (terrestrial acidification), TETP (terrestrial ecotoxicity), were determined. The results indicated that a significant amount of water use could be reduced by the RW-EDI process. According to the LCA, the process consumptive water of RW-EDI can be diminished to 59% (compared to overliming), corresponding to a decrease of process carbon footprint by ~72%. It was concluded that the RW-EDI should be the best available process for biomass hydrolysate conditioning due to its superior engineering performance with relatively lower environmental impacts, compared to other conditioning processes.

Life Cycle Inventories for End-of-Life Management of Construction and Demolition Materials

ABSTRACT. Over 220 million metric tons of construction and demolition debris (CDD) are discarded annually in the US. To date, LCA studies have primarily focused on the manufacturing and service life phases of these materials; data and LCIs pertaining to material end-of-life (EOL) management are relatively scarce. These materials may be landfilled or recycled in either an open-loop (e.g., use of wood for mulch production) or a closed-loop application (e.g., use of reclaimed asphalt pavement in the production of new pavement mix). We are developing publically-accessible LCIs for several construction and demolition materials including wood, concrete, asphalt pavement mix, asphalt roofing shingles, land clearing debris, gypsum drywall, carpet, corrugated containers, fiberglass insulation, clay bricks, vinyl flooring, PVC, and copper wire. In addition to compiling data from existing sources, we are gathering primary process-specific data for processes for which US-specific data are not available. For example, we are partnering with CDD processing facilities to collect material and energy input data to compile LCIs for mixed CDD recycling as these LCIs are not available. This poster reports progress on our initiatives to develop LCIs specific to the EOL phase of these materials. Once complete and reviewed, these LCIs will be made available through the US Federal Data Commons.

Life cycle inventory master list management: methods for simplifying elementary flow naming conventions
SPEAKER: Ashley Edelen

ABSTRACT. The number of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) peer reviewed articles has rapidly increased during the last three decades. This is due to the recognition LCA has received as a tool for providing environmental managers and government policy makers with vital information for making informed sustainable decisions. Per a review of published literature from 2000-2014 using the search term “life cycle assessment” on, citations have risen from 164 per year to 1,861ǂ (THOMSON REUTERS, 2015). As more studies are conducted and published, life cycle inventory (LCI) databases have seen rapid increases in the number of unique elementary flow names. The latest update of the ecoinvent database from version 2.2 to version 3 added nearly 100 new unique elementary flow names to the master list (Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, 1998-2015). Much of this growth is rooted in vague naming conventions that allow unique flow details and activity information to be included in names. The increase in elementary flows places an increased burden on database managers while creating confusion for users. This research proposes an innovative method for simplifying elementary flow master lists by applying ontological concepts developed for semantic data management. The application of ontology in this context advocates the building of a shared framework that describes the concepts and relationships that can exist within LCA, thus eliminating or minimizing conceptual and terminological confusion (Gruber, 1993). Current nomenclature methods support storing activity and flow information as a part of the flow name. Use of this method reduces the number of unique flow names by eliminating the practice of storing flow and activity details within the flow name and instead stores this information in metadata categories that are associated with the flow. With this method the objective is to reduce redundancies in flow names and improve opportunities for interoperability between LCI databases. Application of this method is tested using the OpenLCA master flow list. Naming categories such as ores, fuels, ions, water and land use are identified as presenting unique challenges during the conversion process (Ingwersen & Ciroth, 2015). Recommendations on potential solutions for the structuring of these categories are discussed in detail.

References Curran, M. A. (n.d.). Is the Critical Review Process Keeping Pace with the Growing Number of Life Cycle Assessments? Portland Oregon: American Center for Life Cycle Assessment. Gruber, T. (1993). A translation approach to portable ontologies. Knowledge Acquisition, 5(2), pp. 199-220. Ingwersen, W., & Ciroth, A. (2015). Elementary Flow Harmonization with openLCA and the LCA Harmonization Tool. 4th Meeting of the International Forum on LCA cooperation. Shah Alam, Malaysia: US EPA and Greendelta. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories. (1998-2015). ecoinvent Centre. Retrieved from Documents and Files: Correspondance file for elementary exchanges - ecoinvent v2.2 to ecoinvent v3.01: THOMSON REUTERS. (2015). Web of Science. Retrieved from

Designing and scaling up a bioreactor life cycle inventory: the case of pharmaceutical contaminants removal

ABSTRACT. Technological developments are required to tackle today society challenges related to environmental impacts. As an example, over the past 20 years, increasing attention was devoted to pharmaceutical contaminants with adverse effects on living organisms. However, wastewater treatment plants are inefficient in removing pharmaceuticals, consequently causing their releasing and accumulation into the environment. For this, we need to develop new technologies to treat these contaminants.

In this project, we propose the development of a new bioprocess, designed for the treatment of wastewater and polluted biosolids by fungi and their enzymes. Therefore, we designed a continuous perfusion bioreactor. A scale-up of the bioreactor will be made by different assumptions, such as geometric similarity, the homogenization performance, stirring speed, power comsumption, etc. A life cycle assessment will applied once the bioreactor is scale-up. This approach helps to assess the potential environmental impacts from cradle to the grave of the bioprocess, and, most importantly, to avoid environmental impact displacements. Simapro and Ecovinvent 3.1 will be used for the LCA modeling, in combination with IMPACT 2002+ LCIA method.

Expected environmental life cycle results will help us to track potential impacts during the design phase and technological development of the proposed bioreactor. Moreover, necessary answers on the performance of the bioreactor in avoiding pharmaceutical contaminant pollution will be obtained.

Quantitative and Qualitative comparison of major petroleum life cycle models

ABSTRACT. The United States produces more than a third of its total energy from petroleum products. While primarily used for transportation, petroleum is also a critical material for the manufacture of hundreds of products ranging from asphalt to pharmaceuticals. Petroleum use also carries with it considerable environmental concerns; emissions are generated not only at point-of-use, but during the extraction, refining, and transportation phases of the petroleum life cycle. As such, many organizations have attempted to develop an accurate model of the life cycle of petroleum products in order to better inform decision-makers of the consequences of its use. Our paper studies five of these models, demonstrating the differences in their prediction and attempting to evaluate their unique life cycle assessment methodologies. The five models chosen for analysis are as follows: a method published by Sengupta et al utilizing public US emissions data, unit processes published in the EcoInvent 2.2 database by the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, unit processes published in the US LCI database by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the 2014 GREET software published by Argonne National Laboratory, and a series of unit processes published by the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Our analysis found that the five models yielded surprisingly varied results, given the relative importance of the subject. Carbon dioxide life cycle emissions were in general agreement between the models, with a standard deviation only 11.5% of the mean prediction, but other pollutants such as ammonia and PM2.5 saw deviations over 100% of the mean prediction. Differences in predictions do not appear to be uniform between models and are not apparently explained by differences in allocation method. Our analysis also found that published methodologies may not be in agreement with published models. Effects of these deviations on passenger vehicle and truck transportation life cycle models may be minimal for effects such as GWP (6% spread), but for respiratory effects of criteria pollutants (41% spread) and other impact categories, they can be significant. This suggests that stakeholders may need to carefully consider their choice of model when studying systems that make heavy use of petroleum products.

The effect of theoretical scaling-up procedure on the results of a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment of lab-scale pyrolysis and nano-fiber production

ABSTRACT. Rapid progress of technology and growing environmental concerns urge the technology developer to consider environmental aspects already in the design phase, which is a laborious task, due to the lacking information on final characteristics of the technology. Although several publications are tackling this issue, challenging problematic of production inventory up-scaling is still far from being solved.

Scaling is necessary to anticipate life cycle environmental impacts of industrial-scale productions and operations. Due to the complexity of this issue, a range of methods has to be involved. Combination of distinct technics like economies of scale [1], artificial neural networks [2,3], cascaded option tree model [4], thermo- and fluid dynamics as well as usage of pilot scale data and historical information [5,6] could result in adaptable calculation procedure to obtain information at low maturity of technologies.

The presentation will describe a theoretical scale-up procedure (TSP) based on lab-scale measurements and analyze the results on two examples from research laboratories. Following case studies were selected: pyrolytic treatment of waste printed wiring board (wPWB) and manufacturing of nanofibers via electrospinning. The TSP comprises the analysis of analogies, analysis of dimensions and analysis of similarities.

Preliminary results of evaluation showed interesting differences between potential impacts of lab-scale and theoretically scaled-up process. These are often originating in significant efficiency growth. For example, lab-scale pyrolysis of wPWB requires around 600 Wh electricity input for pyrolytic treatment of 160 g wPWB [7], larger lab-scale consumes 1.0-1.2 kWhel/kg wPWB [8] and the theoretical large-scale process requires 90-120 kg natural gas/ton wPWB depending on thermal efficiency [9,10].

It is important to define the level of detail of scale-up procedure, in order to mitigate the time consume and information requirement. However, in spite of the need for further development, some conclusions could be drawn supporting the developers to shape their research toward finding new materials and technologies with lower environmental impacts.

1. Caduff, M., Huijbregts, M. A. J., Koehler, A., Althaus, H.-J. & Hellweg, S. Scaling Relationships in Life Cycle Assessment. J. Ind. Ecol. 18, 393–406 (2014). 2. Seo, K.-K., Min, S.-H. & Yoo, H.-W. in Computational Science and Its Applications – ICCSA 2005 (eds. Gervasi, O. et al.) 458–466 (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2005). at 3. Wernet, G., Papadokonstantakis, S., Hellweg, S. & Hungerbühler, K. Bridging data gaps in environmental assessments: Modeling impacts of fine and basic chemical production. Green Chem. 11, 1826–1831 (2009). 4. Bednarz, A., Rüngeler, B. & Pfennig, A. Use of Cascaded Option Trees in Chemical-Engineering Process Development. Chem. Ing. Tech. 86, 611–620 (2014). 5. Kupfer, T. Prognosen von Umweltauswirkungen bei der Entwicklung chemischer Anlagen. (University of Stuttgart, 2005), Ph.D. Theisi. 6. Shibasaki, M. Methode zur Prognose der Ökobilanz einer Großanlage auf Basis einer Pilotanlage in der Verfahrenstechnik : ein Beitrag zur Ganzheitlichen Bilanzierung. (2009), Ph.D. Thesis. 7. Quan, C., Li, A. & Gao, N. Synthesis of carbon nanotubes and porous carbons from printed circuit board waste pyrolysis oil. J. Hazard. Mater. 179, 911–917 (2010). 8. Simon, B. Recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment - Environmental life cycle assessment and life cycle cost assessment of treatment of waste printed wiring boards by pyrolysis. (Pannon University, 2013), Ph.D. Thesis. 9. Angyal, A. Personal Consultation, University of Pannonia, Department of MOL Hydrocarbon and Coal Processing. (2009). 10. Csukás, B. et al. Simplified dynamic simulation model of plastic waste pyrolysis in laboratory and pilot scale tubular reactor. Fuel Process. Technol. 106, 186–200 (2013).

LCA-based indicators for recycling: a case study on plastic waste treatment in Flanders
SPEAKER: Sofie Huysman

ABSTRACT. The last decades, waste management strategies are shifting from waste disposal to recycling, considering waste as resources. To quantitatively monitor the progress in this transition, a wide range of indicators has been developed.

One of these indicators developed by the European Commission is the recyclability benefit rate (RBR), defined as the ratio of the environmental benefits that can be achieved from recycling over the environmental losses related to virgin production and disposal.[1] These environmental benefits and losses are expressed in terms of environmental impacts obtained through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). To assess the usefulness of this indicator, we applied it on two cases of plastic waste treatment in Flanders, Belgium: closed-loop recycling (case A) and open-loop recycling (case B). The environmental impact of resource consumption is quantified as the Cumulative Exergy Extraction of the Natural Environment (CEENE).[2]

Case A considers plastic waste from electronic appliances. The recycled plastic is of good quality and can be used in products similar to the original product. The average RBR of case A is 58%. Case B considers plastic household waste. The recycled plastic is of lower quality, making it only useable for other products, e.g. street benches, in which it substitutes other materials, e.g. wood. Here, the indicator had to be further adapted for open-loop recycling. The outcome is an average RBR of 13%. This value is rather low because more mass of the recycled plastic is needed to meet the same quality requirements as the substituted material.

By further developing the indicator for open-loop recycling, it was possible to quantify the environmental sustainability of plastic recycling in Flanders. These quantitative results may be useful for policy makers, e.g. in legislation on subsidies and levies.

References [1] Ardente and Mathieux, Journal of Cleaner Production 2014; 83: 126-141 [2] Dewulf et al. Environmental Science & Technology 2007; 41(24): 8477–8483

Global warming potential and energy payback time of HTPEM technology powered by natural gas reforming

ABSTRACT. In recent years, the environmental impact assessment of alternative technologies for electricity production, such as the Fuel Cell (FC), has been the focus of several studies. Considering the various types of FC, which are still being developed, there remain gaps in the field of possible technical solutions to improve environmental performance. This study uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to investigate the global warming potential (GWP 100 years), the cumulative energy demand (CED) and energy payback time (EPBT) in a 20 kWe HTPEM power plant in Brazil: The power plant studied is a pilot that uses High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell technology and natural gas (NG) reforming to produce energy for the commercial and residential sectors. The scope of the LCA study covered the production and distribution of natural gas in the state of São Paulo, including the phases of construction, installation and maintenance of NG reforming and HTPEM systems, as well as the production of hydrogen and electricity over 40,000 hours of operation. The results indicated that the greatest contribution of CO2 eq (GWP) resulted from the natural gas input into the system (70%). In the hydrogen production phase, 36% of emissions derived from fossil fuels burnt in the heating process (0.00827 kg CO2 eq / MJ), while 52% originated from the consumption of NG in the reforming process itself (0.0119 kg CO2 eq / MJ). On the other side, both the reuse of hydrogen that has not been consumed in FC as fuel in the heating process and the recovery of waste heat generated in the system can lead to a reduction of up to 20% of the emissions generated in the use phase. In terms of cumulative energy demand, it point toward a reduction of up to 25% of the CED; that is (-0.499MJ / MJ) in the recovery of waste heat and (-0.104 MJ / MJ) in the reuse of residual hydrogen. Under these conditions the EPBT of the system is 2.4 years. Besides increasing FC life time, this study highlights that possible further improvement in order to allow heat recovery, for example, the use of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC), can lead to improvements in the environmental performance of the system.

18:00-21:00 Session : Dinner

Join us for a dinner following the conference at UBC, Sage Restuarant. (Free for conference attendees, pre registration required)