The most common uses of life-cycle assessment are for product improvement ("How can I make my products greener?"), support of strategic choices ("Is this or that the greener development path?"), benchmarking ("How do our products compare?"), and for communication ("Our products are the greenest"). Most of the software tools designed to help with this task use ISO 14040 to 14043 as a prescription. In doing so they commit themselves to a process of considerable complexity. There is no compulsion to follow this route, and some do not. Some of these are aimed at specific product sectors (vehicle design, building materials, paper making), others at the early stages of product design and these, of necessity, are simpler in their structure. Two, at least, have education as their target. So there is quite a spectrum, 11 of which are listed in Table 3.2. Some of these programs are free, some can be bought, and others are available only through the services of a consultant—an understandable precaution, given the complexity of using them properly.
SimaPro (2008). SimaPro 7.1 is a widely used tool to collect, analyze, and monitor the environmental performance of products and services developed by Pre Consultants in the Netherlands. Life cycles
can be analyzed in a systematic way, following the ISO 14040 series recommendations. There is an educational version. A free demo is available from the Pre Website.
Boustead Model 5 (2007). The Boustead Model is a tool for life-cycle inventory calculations, broadly following the ISO 14040 series recommendations. Ian Boustead, the author of the software, has many years of experience in life-cycle assessment, working with European polymer suppliers.
TEAM (2008). TEAM is Ecobilan’s life-cycle assessment software.
It allows the user to build and use a large database and to model systems associated with products and processes following the ISO 14040 series of standards.
GaBi (2008). GaBi 4, developed by PE International, is a sophisticated tool for product assessment to comply with European legislation.
It has facilities for analyzing cost, environment, social and technical criteria, and optimization of processes. A demo is available.
MEEUPmethod (2005). The Dutch Methodology for Ecodesign of Energy-using Products (MEEUP) is a response to the EU directive on energy-using products (the EuP Directive) described in Chapter 5. It
is a tool for the analysis of products—mostly appliances—that use energy, following the ISO 14040 series of guidelines.
GREET (2007). The Greenhouse Gasses, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model (GREET) is a free spreadsheet running in Microsoft Excel and developed by Argonne National Laboratory for the U. S. Department of Transportation. There are two versions: one for fuel-cycle analysis and one for vehicle-cycle analysis. They deal with specific emissions, not with impacts and weighted combinations. For a given vehicle and fuel system, the model calculates energy consumption, emissions of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O)—and six criteria pollutants: volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter with size smaller than 10 microns (PM10), particulate matter with size smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), and sulfur oxides (SOx).
MIPS (2008). MIPS stands for Material Input per Service Unit. MIPS is an elementary measure to estimate the environmental impacts caused by a product or service. The full life cycle from cradle to cradle (extraction, production, use, waste/recycling) is considered. It allows the environmental implications of products, processes, and services that need to be assessed and compared. It enables material intensity analysis both at the micro level (focusing on specific products and services) and at the macro level (focusing on national economies).
CES Eco (2009). Granta Design specializes in materials information management software. One of their products, CES Eco, is a widely used tool for teaching engineering students about the selection and use of materials and processes. It includes modules that implement the eco-audit methods described in Chapter 7 and the ecoselection procedures of Chapters 8 and 9.
Aggregain (2008). Aggregain, developed and distributed by WRAP, is a free analysis tool running in Microsoft Excel for promoting the supply and use of recycled and secondary aggregates (including recycled concrete from construction, demolition waste material, and railway ballast) for the construction and road-building industries.
KCL-ECO 3.0. KCL represents the paper-making industry. KCL-Eco is an LCA tool designed specifically for this industry.
Eio-lca (2008). Economic input/output LCA (Eio-lca) of Carnegie
Mellon University calculates sector emissions based on input/output data for the sectors of the North American Industry Classification Scheme (NAICS). It is not designed for the assessment of products. Demo available.
E.3.1. Which phase of life would you expect to be the most energy intensive (in the sense of consuming fossil fuel) for the following products? Pick one and list the resources and emissions you think would be associated with each phase of its life along the lines of Figure 3.3.
■ A toaster
■ A two-car garage
■ A bicycle
■ A motorbike
■ A refrigerator
■ A coffeemaker
■ An LPG-fired patio heater
E.3.2. Identify an appropriate functional unit for each of the products listed below. Think of the basic need the product provides—it is this that determines use—and list what you would choose, thinking of all from an environmental standpoint.
■ Washing machines
■ Home heating systems
■ Air conditioners
■ Home coffeemaker
■ Public transport
■ Handheld hair dryers
E.3.3. What is meant by "externalized" costs and costs the are "internalized" in an environmental context? Now a moment of introspection: list three internalized costs associated with your lifestyle. Now list three
(high use = 0, none = 4)
(high use = 0, none = 4)
(much CO2 = 0, no CO2 = 4)
(Toxic emissions or waste?)
Streamlined LCA matrix.
that are externalized. If your life is so pure that you have fewer than three, list some for the other people you know.
E.3.4. What, in the context of life-cycle assessment, is meant by "system boundaries"? How are they set?
E.3.5. Describe briefly the steps prescribed by the ISO 14040 Standard to guide life-cycle assessment of products.
E.3.6. What are the difficulties with a full LCA? Why would a simpler, if approximate, technique be helpful?
E.3.7. Pick two of the products listed in Exercise E.3.1 and, using your judgment, attempt to fill out the simplified streamlined LCA matrix below to give an environmentally responsible product rating. Make your own assumptions (and report them) about where the product was made and thus how far it has to be transported, and whether it will be recycled. Assign an integer between 0 (highest impact) and 4 (least impact) to each box and then sum to give an environmental rating, providing a comparison. Try the protocol.
■ Material. Is it energy-intensive? Does it create excessive emissions?
Is it difficult or impossible to recycle? Is the material toxic? If the
answer to these questions is yes, score 4. If the reverse, score 0. Use the intermediate integers for other combinations.
■ Manufacture. Is the process one that uses much energy? Is it wasteful (meaning cut-offs and rejects are high)? Does it produce toxic or hazardous waste? Does make use of volatile organic solvents? If yes, score 4. If no, score 0, etc.
■ Transport. Is the product manufactured far from its ultimate market? Is it shipped by air freight? If both yes, score 4. If no, score 0.
■ Use. Does the product use energy during its life? Is the energy derived from fossil fuels? Are any emissions toxic? Is it possible to provide the use-function in a less energy-intensive way? Scoring as above.
■ Disposal. Will the product be ent to land-fill at end of life? Does disposal involve toxic or long-lived residues? Scoring as above.
What difficulties did you have? Do you feel confident that the results are meaningful?
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