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InLCA Session IV C - Product & Process Development & Design II
Click here to download a zipped copy of the abstracts and slide presentations for this session.

The Application of LCA Tools in the Measurement and Reporting of GHG Emissions and in Project Design under Flexibility Mechanisms of Kyoto Protocol

Presenter: Pankaj Bhatia

Pankaj Bhatia, Vice president

Tata Energy & Resources Institute
Arlington, Virginia

In this paper LCA is examined as a measurement and project design tool in the context of GHG emissions from any product. The basis of this work is in the deliberations of the LCA working group under the GHG Protocol collaboration convened by WRI and WBCSD[1]. This analysis aims to establish that the life cycle inventory stage has a very relevant application in the measurement and reporting of product GHG emissions and also in certain project design aspects. In the case of GHG emissions, the traditional LCA methodological problems encountered in characterization, valuation and interpretation step, do not pose any difficulty, thus, simplifying application of LCA.

In reviewing the application of LCA for project design, major issues identified include: double counting, conceptual fit in the form of project effectiveness criteria and utility in calculation of CACs (Carbon Abatement Costs).

LCA application in project design involves accounting for climate impacts during all phases of a product life cycle. According to one viewpoint, it may not be necessary to use LCA in project design, since in practice, the separate life cycle phases of any product are likely to be eligible as individual projects of their respective owners. Thus, these discrete projects though may be designed in different time frames, would finally take care of life cycle phases of any product. Other practitioners believe that LCA is a necessary design tool for products that have enormously different GHG emissions over their life cycle e.g. automobiles, white goods, Aluminium etc.

A project without LCA analysis, may get funded, though not necessarily having best net reductions in GHG emissions over its product life cycle, when compared to other competing alternatives. Thus, project design and evaluation tools, in the absence of LCA application, may overlook significant sources of GHG emissions. To be able to use LCA tool in such scenarios, two methodological options are suggested. One conceptual and methodological option suggests integrating LCA as a tool to assess project effectiveness. The other methodological application can be the use of LCA for developing sector-wise CACs (Carbon Abatement Costs). In suggesting these forms of LCA application, it is accepted that more research and stakeholders dialogue is needed to develop an understanding of the most appropriate use of LCA in measurement of GHG emissions and in project design and evaluation.

Assessment of Materials and Process Options within Cascaded Systems: A Case Study

Presenter: Elizabeth Williams
(slides in pdf)

Elizabeth Williams and Warren Mellor

Polymer Research Centre and
School of Engineering in the Environment
University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
Phone: 00 44 (0)1483-300800
FAX: 00 44 (0)1483 259394

Gary Stevens

Polymer Research Centre
University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH

Adisa Azapagic and Roland Clift

School of Engineering in the Environment
University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH

Re-use, recovery and recycling of materials is an increasingly important issue for all sectors of industry. New legislation is being introduced which places the responsibility to recover, and in some cases recycle, products on the producers themselves. In addition to this many companies now have environmentally focused procurement policies making the need to manage resources effectively a priority. It is recognised that to be able to recycle products after the use phase, much consideration must be given to the materials and processes chosen for the original manufacturing process. The materials must be recyclable and the processes should represent a low impact on the environment.

Life cycle product design (LCPD) methods can play an important role in this process. They utilise life cycle thinking by evaluating the environmental effects of a product from cradle to grave. This paper introduces a new LCPD methodology based on an integrated chain management approach, which aids material selection and product design. It allows cascades of product use to be identified and modelled explicitly in relation to technical, environmental and economic requirements.

Several industrial case studies have been carried out to evaluate the methodology. They include scenarios within the whole polymer supply chain, from materials production and product manufacture to waste management logistics, product re-manufacturing and materials recycling. The scenarios which compare polymer materials used for laminated car windshield applications are discussed in this paper. The performance of the current design using a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer is compared with three alternatives; polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Solutions are identified which are optimal with respect to environmental, economic and technical criteria. The potential for each of the polymers to be involved in material cascades of different uses is also explored.

Application of LCA to Select Technology for Leachate Treatment

Presenter: Jan Kochany

Jan Kochany

Conestoga-Rovers & Associates
5560 McAdam Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L4Z 1P1
Phone: 905-712-0510
FAX: 905-712-0515

The goal of remediation technologies is to improve the quality of the local environment. Realization of this goal, however requires materials and energy produced at the expense of the whole environment. An understanding and evaluation of these two aspects of environmental remediation is an important issue for environmental industry. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a valuable tool that helps to resolve this issue. This paper presents how the LCA approach helped to select the optimum technology for leachate treatment.

Landfill leachate is usually characterized by high content of organic matter, high concentration of ammonia, metals and high alkalinity. Leachate quality can fluctuate over both short and long term and is related to a number of physical, chemical and biological processes in the landfill as well as weather conditions. Therefore, a leachate treatment system should accommodate environmental variability while maintaining the same quality of the effluent.

At the initial phase of the project various technologies were compared that could potentially be applicable. A functional unit was a treatment of 100,000 gallons of leachate. The objective was to evaluate the environmental impact and cost for each reviewed technology when applied at the particular Site to reduce the main parameters of concern to the required limit.

LCA evaluation was based on the literature data and actual conditions at the Site (energy supply, transportation of chemicals, waste utilization). The initial phase of the project allowed the choice of technology that was subsequently the subject of more detailed studies including bench scale treatability studies on the leachate. The chosen technology included chemical precipitation of ammonia and organic substances followed by a two stage biological treatment and ozonation.

At this second phase of the project boundaries for each treatment process and the whole treatment system were defined. During the treatability studies the main environmental and economical factors were investigated and optimized (chemicals and energy requirements, waste generation and utilization). Thus the final design of the leachate treatment system was both cost effective and enviromentally friendly.

Buildings as Products: Issues and Challenges for LCA

Presenter: Wayne B. Trusty
(slides in pdf)

W. B. Trusty and J.K. Meil

ATHENA Sustainable Materials Institute

This paper will focus on some of the practicalities and key issues surrounding the use of LCA techniques, data and tools in the building design process.

Buildings are products in their own right, designed to meet specific functions and comprised of myriad manufactured elements that come together in complex systems. Not only are all of the individual building products and elements subject to LCA, but so too is the building as a whole. The building's life as a unique product starts with its own manufacturing stage and extends through a long and unpredictable use phase during which individual elements will be maintained, rehabilitated or even replaced and the complete building possibly changed in terms of both its form and function. Then, at the end of its life, the building is pulled apart and LCA must contemplate recycling, reuse or disposal in terms of individual products or materials.

Building owners and designers increasingly want to put the environment on an appropriate footing with cost, availability and other conventional design and product performance criteria. LCA is generally accepted as the basis for comparisons between alternative building designs as it is for other materials, components and services. But the application of LCA techniques is especially difficult in the case of buildings because of the interrelationships of products in a building systems context and the nature of a building's life cycle.

Decision Support for Cleaner Technologies by Estimating

Exposures to Industrial Emissions Using Modeling and GIS

Presenter: Jingyang Zhang

Jingyang Zhang
L. Donald Duke, Ph.D., P.E.

Department of Environmental Health Sciences
University of California
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772
Phone: 310-825-7599

Current P2 evaluation methodologies lack the ability to predict true environmental and health benefits of emerging cleaner technologies because they rely on simple, and often subjective, converting factors to approximate impact reduction to pollution reduction. Meanwhile, without considering facility geographic distribution and activity levels of the target industries, developers and investors of new technologies, as well as agency decision-makers, do not have a meaningful tool to prioritize among development options.

This research, using publicly available information and limited field-study data, develops a methodology that incorporates industrial facilities' local conditions to identify and, to some extent, quantify cleaner technologies' environmental and health benefits in large geographic areas. The methodology is demonstrated by assessing dry cleaners in regions of southern California and quantifying their perchloroethylene (PERC) emissions. The data, along with local hydrological, meteorological and topographic information, are entered into the MendTox Model to predict the transport and transformation of PERC. By integrating the modeling results and demographic and land use data in a geographic information system (GIS), we can understand exposures of populations and ecosystems to PERC in the regions, which could be eliminated if all dry cleaners implemented PERC-free technologies. Where toxicological information is sufficient, health benefits in terms of reduced cancer risk are quantitatively estimated. Finally, we analyze uncertainties in this methodology and discuss its generalization for evaluating new technologies in other industries.

The extent to which risk reduction from new technologies can be quantified depends on the availability and quality of toxicological data, an aspect beyond the scope of this research. However, even when such data are limited, this methodology can have a number of applications, including quantifying P2 achievable, estimating contribution of a new technology to reducing the overall emissions of certain pollutants, analyzing P2 trade-offs, and prioritizing public funding of technology development and transfer.

Environmental Life Cycle Cost Analysis of Products

Presenter: Senthil Kumaran
(slides in pdf)

Senthil Kumaran D, S K Ong, and A Y C Nee

Department of Mechanical & Production Engineering
National University of Singapore
E-mail (Senthil):

Reginald B H Tan

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
National University of Singapore

The objective of this Life Cycle Environmental Cost Analysis (LCECA) model is to include eco-costs into the total cost of the products. Eco-costs are both the direct and indirect costs of the environmental impacts caused by the product in its entire life cycle. Subsequently, this LCECA model identifies the feasible alternatives for cost effective, eco-friendly parts/products. This attempts to incorporate costing into the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) practice. Ultimately, it aims to reduce the total cost with the help of green or eco-friendly alternatives in all the stages of the life cycle of any product.

The new category of eco-costs of the cost breakdown structure includes:

Development of a suitable cost model and the identification of the feasible alternatives are performed simultaneously. Various checklists based on multiple environmental criteria will be used to ensure the eco-friendly nature of the alternatives. On the basis of the calculated environmental impact indices (EII), priorities will be made for the selection of suitable alternatives.

The mathematical model of LCECA aims to define the relationships between the total cost of products and the various eco-costs concerned with the life cycle of the products, and determine quantitative expressions between the above said costs.

A computational LCECA model has been developed to compare the eco-costs of the alternatives. This model will include a break-even analysis to evaluate the alternatives, a sensitivity analysis and a risk analysis modules. This model aims at a cost-effective, eco-friendly product as an end result. This LCECA model will be compatible with the existing LCA software tools.


An Integrated Product Life Cycle Design Tool

Presenter: Anne Landfield
(slides in pdf)

Remi Coulon

Ecobalance, Inc.
7101 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-657-5942
FAX: 301-657-5948

Brian Glazebrook

Ecobalance, Inc.
7101 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-657-5944
FAX: 301-657-5948

Market pressures and regulations are increasingly driving businesses to consider environmental issues during product development, promoting the idea of Design for Environment (DfE). A number of different approaches to DfE have emerged as this concept takes hold, which cover the spectrum from Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to guidelines for design to Design for Disassembly. LCA itself is a rigorous standardized methodology (ISO 14040) that has been used by industries to examine product options or investment decisions relevant to a company's product line. Conducting a full LCA is very difficult for those who are not familiar with the method, such as design teams charged with the development of complex products (e.g., electronic devices or cars). Other approaches to DfE address specific concerns but have limitations in scope and applicability. To address the concept of DfE, most companies require an integrated approach that provides life cycle data for their products and addresses regulatory and consumer concerns.

This paper will present how each of these different DfE approaches falls short with respect to the requirements of a product design team. It will present how these methodologies can be combined to provide a robust life cycle design tool, and it will outline how it would meet the needs of a typical design team. Specific case study examples will be provided, showing how a life cycle design tool is used in a number of different companies.

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