A life cycle community:
- Applies life cycle thinking to its decision making, in planning, purchasing and operations;
- Publishes the life cycle inventory data for the utilities it controls;
- Educates its employees on life cycle thinking and uses that education to achieve more sustainable outcomes;
- Works with its local educational institutions to develop life cycle assessment educational opportunities;
- Works with its local industries to develop environmental product declarations for the products they produce and sell;
- Commits to these actions through public resolution, press release or other formal mechanism.
Why should you care?
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the science of measuring the environmental performance of products and services from cradle to grave. The output is an environmental product declaration that shows the carbon footprint, water use, and other impacts. When companies perform LCAs of their products, they use the most appropriate information they can find about the impacts of the resources they use. When they live in a place where the impacts of those resources are low (i.e. because the utilities are well-managed) the benefits of the clean utilities get embedded in the impacts of the product. Communities that can show they are clean provide an economic benefit to the companies operating there — but only if they disclose their life cycle performance. Otherwise the company will likely use national average figures. Publishing utility life cycle inventory links community environmental performance to company economic advantage. It is also a way track and disclose environmental performance, and this can drive environmental improvement.
The life cycle inventory
is the listing and amounts of purchases and the emissions of operations, expressed in terms of the product produced. For example, making electricity requires the purchase of fuels and the operations of generation stations, and there are emissions due to combustion and other processes. These are already being tracked by the operation, and it is a matter of reformatting the data so that the result is expressed in terms of kilowatt-hours of electricity produced.