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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2001

Staffan Laestadius and Lennart Karlson

Increasing demand for sustainable development during the last decades has expanded the scope of corporate responsibility to include environmental issues in all levels of…

Abstract

Increasing demand for sustainable development during the last decades has expanded the scope of corporate responsibility to include environmental issues in all levels of operations. A number of different environmental management tools have been developed and implemented in companies. One important question is whether the resources spent in environmental management tools are used in an optimal way. Another question is if these resources give more eco‐efficient products as well as increased competitiveness. The aim of this paper is to analyse whether, and to what extent, the environmental management tool LCA is perceived as efficient within ABB. The conclusions to be drawn from this study are somewhat contradictory. On the one hand the technical, economic and environmental benefits from current use of the LCA tool seem to be very modest and LCA activities seem not to be integrated in normal operational activities, nor have they been used frequently in product development projects. On the other hand, there is a very positive opinion about the applicability and future use of the LCA tool. In fact a majority of the respondents believe that the LCA tool will stay and can be useful in the future.

Details

Environmental Management and Health, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0956-6163

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Jonas Johannisson and Michael Hiete

This study aims to share experiences of an easy to adapt service-learning approach in a graduate course on life cycle assessment (LCA). Specifically, it reports on how…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to share experiences of an easy to adapt service-learning approach in a graduate course on life cycle assessment (LCA). Specifically, it reports on how students helped the university’s cafeteria to assess meals by conducting an LCA for 25 meals and identifying environmental hotspots.

Design/methodology/approach

A descriptive case study of a graduate course at Ulm University is presented. The course included lectures and problem-based exercises, both theoretical and software assisted. A course evaluation was conducted during the course and one year after completion to poll improvement potentials, as well as its impacts on students’ everyday life.

Findings

It was found that although it was the first LCA for all students, the resulting LCA information of 25 different meals were homogeneous, comparable to the scientific literature and beneficial to the cafeteria’s sustainable development strategy. The concept of service-learning had a higher impact on students’ motivation than a good grade and active-learning is explicitly requested by students. The course design sensitized students to the real-life problems of LCA and made their consumption patterns more elaborate and ecological. Furthermore, this digitization of higher education could be carried out with only minor changes in the present COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Originality/value

As the subject of service-learning in natural sciences is still expandable, this study presents an easy to adapt case study on how to integrate such an approach into university curricula dominated by traditional learning. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this case study presents the first published LCA university course explicitly describing and evaluating a service-learning approach. The topic touches the everyday lives of students, allows comparisons between different student groups, is easily scalable to different group sizes and credits, and supports learning both how to study in small groups and cooperation between groups to ensure comparability of LCA results.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 22 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 4 June 2020

Murillo Vetroni Barros, Fabio Neves Puglieri, Daniel Poletto Tesser, Oksana Kuczynski and Cassiano Moro Piekarski

Some universities have a commitment to both academic education and sustainable development, and the sustainable development goals can support several sustainable actions…

Abstract

Purpose

Some universities have a commitment to both academic education and sustainable development, and the sustainable development goals can support several sustainable actions that universities may take as principles and attitudes. From this perspective, the purpose of this study is to present environmentally sustainable practices at a federal university in Brazil and to analyze and discuss the potential environmental impacts associated with an environmentally sustainable practice implemented using life cycle assessment (LCA) and its benefits for the university’s decision-makers.

Design/methodology/approach

To accomplish that, the study combines a description of environmentally sustainable practices at the 13 campuses of the Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (UTFPR) in terms of education, water and electricity consumption, waste management and emissions. As a result of this analysis, one campus identified that a high volume of disposable plastic cups were being disposed of, for which the use of reusable plastic cups was introduced. In addition, an LCA study (ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006) quantified the benefits of the introduction of said reusable plastic cups.

Findings

The results show that the university is working on environmentally sustainable initiatives and policies to become greener. At the same time, using a systematic LCA made it possible to measure that replacing disposable plastic cups for reusable ones reduced waste generation but increased water consumption on the campus. Faced with this, a sensitization was carried out to reduce water consumption. Finally, the current study provides lessons on the environmental performance to universities interested in sustainable practices, fostering perspectives for a better world. The findings of this study encourage organizations to accomplish environmental actions toward greener universities. The study shows that institutions need to be reflective and analytical about how even “greening” measures have impacts, which can be mitigated if necessary.

Practical implications

The sustainable practical implications were reported, and an LCA was conducted to assess potential environmental impacts of reusable plastic cups. It was identified that raw material production is the phase that generates most environmental impacts during the life cycle of the product, along with the consumer use phase, due to the quantity of water used to wash the reusable cups. In addition, the practical contributions of this study are to provide insights to institutions that aim to use environmental actions, i.e. suggestions of sustainable paths toward a greener university.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies to investigate and discuss sustainable practices at UTFPR/Brazil. The study assessed one of the practices using a scientific technique (LCA) to assess the impacts of reusable plastic cups distributed to the students of one of the 13 campuses. Although there are other studies on LCA in the literature, the value of this study lies in expanding what has already been experienced/found on the use of LCA to assess environmental practices in university campuses.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 5 January 2021

Isuri Anuradha Amarasinghe, Dumindu Soorige and Devindi Geekiyanage

Life cycle assessment (LCA) has considerably contributed to increasing the environmental friendliness of buildings in developed countries. However, it is hard to find…

Abstract

Purpose

Life cycle assessment (LCA) has considerably contributed to increasing the environmental friendliness of buildings in developed countries. However, it is hard to find evidence on the application of LCA for buildings in developing countries; particularly, Sri Lanka. There is a lack of research to compare the status of LCA of buildings in developed countries vs developing countries. In this context, the purpose of this study aims to examine the status of LCA implementation for buildings between developed countries and Sri Lanka, a developing country.

Design/methodology/approach

The exploratory research was adapted, and in-depth interviews were held with LCA professionals from Sri Lanka and developed countries, respectively.

Findings

Relatively less attention has been paid to the implementation of LCA for buildings in Sri Lanka compared to the developed countries due to the time and effort required to collect life cycle inventory data and limited stakeholder understanding of the LCA. Hence, this study proposed improvements, including the development of LCA databases containing region-specific data and conducting programmes to raise stakeholders' awareness to address the gaps in Sri Lanka.

Research limitations/implications

The identified LCA implementation process for buildings could be used as a guide for first-time LCA users, and it equally makes a valued reference for experienced practitioners.

Originality/value

A limited number of the studies formulate a comparison between the LCA for building in developed countries and developing countries. This research attempts to address this knowledge gap.

Details

Built Environment Project and Asset Management, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2044-124X

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2020

Titus Ebenezer Kwofie, Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa and Wellington Didibhuku Thwala

The South African Construction Industry (SACI) in recent times has been characterized by a strong emphasis towards achieving sustainable building practices in…

Abstract

Purpose

The South African Construction Industry (SACI) in recent times has been characterized by a strong emphasis towards achieving sustainable building practices in infrastructural delivery. However, the lack of progress encountered in making gains in achieving sustainable practices has raised concerns over the effectiveness and understanding of the extent to which life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques may aid in meeting requirements of sustainable construction. Most efforts at LCA have been blighted with numerous barriers that have not been rigorously pursued and aggregated. Ironically, there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the limitations and barriers to these methodologies, especially in the South African context. The purpose of this study is to delineate the cluster of barriers to the adoption of LCA methodologies in the SACI.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire survey was carried out from a deductive research design elicit primary data based on the experience of purposively sampled stakeholders in LCA in the SACI on the extent they perceived the presence of well-established barriers in LCA adoption culled from the extensive literature review.

Findings

Through the use of factor analysis, three aggregated clusters of key barriers to LCA adoption in the SACI were identified, which were knowledge and enabling conditions constraints, cost and time constraints and technical constraints. The results confirm that indeed human and technical barriers have been notable in limiting gains in LCA adoption and achieving sustainable practices.

Originality/value

These findings are, thus, useful in overcoming challenges to LCA methodologies in achieving sustainable building practices in building and infrastructural delivery in SACI.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology , vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2001

Jeroen B. Guinée, Gjalt Huppes and Reinout Heijungs

The life cycle assessment (LCA) guide of Heijungs et al. has been renewed to the latest methodological developments, aiming to make the ISO 14040 series on life cycle…

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Abstract

The life cycle assessment (LCA) guide of Heijungs et al. has been renewed to the latest methodological developments, aiming to make the ISO 14040 series on life cycle assessment operational. For this, a closer look was taken at intended applications in relation to required and practicable modelling options. Applications determine the required theoretical model, but the theoretical model required often comes into conflict with the available practical models and the needed operationality for decision support. To ease the tension between these requirements, simplifications need to be made in a guide on LCA. Two levels of sophistication have been worked out in the new guide documents: a detailed LCA with some options for extensions, and a simplified version.

Details

Environmental Management and Health, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0956-6163

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Article
Publication date: 4 December 2018

Linne Marie Lauesen

Sustainability investors are in need of updated standards, indexes and in general better tools and instruments to facilitate company information on its impacts on people…

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainability investors are in need of updated standards, indexes and in general better tools and instruments to facilitate company information on its impacts on people, planet and profit. Such instruments to reveal reliable, independent metrics and indicators to evaluate companies’ performances on sustainability exist, however, in research fields that previously have not been used extensively, for instance, life cycle assessments (LCAs). ISO 14001:2015 has implemented life cycle perspective, however, without being explicitly clear on which methodology is preferred. This paper aims to investigate LCA as to improve companies’ transparency towards sustainability investors through a literature review on sustainable investment evaluation.

Design/methodology/approach

The literature review is conducted through the search engine Google Scholar, which to date hosts the most comprehensive academic database across other databases such as Scopus, ISI Web of Knowledge, Science Direct, etc. Search words such as “Sustainable finance”, “Sustainable Investments”, “Performance metrics”, “Life cycle assessment”, “LCA”, “Environmental Management Systems”, “EMS” and “Environmental Profit and Loss Account” were used. Special journals that publish research on LCA such as International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Journal of Cleaner Production and Journal of Industrial Ecology were also investigated in-depth.

Findings

The combination of using LCA in, for instance, environmental profit and loss accounts studied in this paper shows a comprehensive and reliable tool for sustainability investors, as well as for social responsibility standards such as ISO 14001, ISO 26000, UN Global Compact, GIIN, IRIS and GRI to incorporate. With a LCA-based hybrid input-output account, both upstream and downstream’s impact on the environment and society can be assessed by companies to attract more funding from sustainability investors such as shareholders, governments and intergovernmental bodies.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review is based on publicly disclosed academic papers as well as five displayed company Environmental Profit and Loss accounts from the Kering Group, PUMA, Stella McCartney company, Novo Nordisk and Arla Group. Other company experiences with integration of LCA as a reporting tool have not been found, yet it is not to conclude that these five companies are the only ones to work extensively with LCA.

Practical implications

The paper may contribute to the clarification of LCA-thinking and perspective implementation in both ISO 14001 and ISO 26000, as well as in other social responsibility standards such as the UN Global Compact, the Global Impact Investing Networks, IRIS performance metrics, the Global Reporting Initiative and others.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the first that evaluates LCA and environmental profit and loss accounts for sustainability investors, as well as for consideration of implementation in social responsibility standards such as the ISO 14001 and ISO 26000, as well as in other social responsibility standards such as the UN Global Compact, the Global Impact Investing Networks, IRIS performance metrics and the Global Reporting Initiative.

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2012

Tereza Bicalho, Jacques Richard and Cécile Bessou

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is a specific example of life cycle assessment (LCA) applied to legislative measures that have far‐reaching implications for economic…

Abstract

Purpose

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is a specific example of life cycle assessment (LCA) applied to legislative measures that have far‐reaching implications for economic operators. This paper aims to analyze LCA limitations for biofuels based on RED from an environmental accounting perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

LCA limitations are identified on the basis of a literature review and illustrated in the specific context of RED. The limitations encountered within the study were classified into two categories: lack of data, and lack of standards. From this perspective, the LCA‐based problems and their implication and possible improvements in the RED context are discussed.

Findings

The study identifies that the absence of an environmental accounting that could provide periodic enterprise‐specific information is a significant cause of limitations of LCA as a decision‐supporting tool within RED. In turn, environmental accounting approaches address a number of initiatives that are not systematically linked with LCA research. The paper recommends that RED should provide rules to address enterprise‐specific data in addition to other methodological approaches to overcome problems already discussed in the extant literature. This would enable RED to provide economic incentives more effectively and promote the application of environmental accounting systems in companies with higher quality data for LCA applications.

Originality/value

This paper explains how LCA applications could be improved by the introduction of environmental accounting systems and how RED could be more effective by considering environmental accounting.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2019

Cassiano Moro Piekarski, Fábio Neves Puglieri, Cristiane Karyn de Carvalho Araújo, Murillo Vetroni Barros and Rodrigo Salvador

The purpose of this paper is to report on a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based ecodesign teaching practice via university-industry collaboration in an industrial…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based ecodesign teaching practice via university-industry collaboration in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Design/methodology/approach

A new course was designed and taught in the Industrial Engineering undergraduate course of a Federal University in Brazil. The course comprised explanatory lectures and a practical project developed in a partnership between the university and an industry partner where students had to develop Ecodesign proposals based on LCA to improve the environmental profile of both solid and reticulated paint brushes. To that end, students used the LCA software tool Umberto NXT v.7.1.13 (educational version), where they modeled the life cycle of four plastic brushes and assessed it using the impact categories of climate change and resource consumption, and the Ecoinvent v.3.3 database. After course completion, students, professors and industry collaborators were asked to provide feedback on the project performance and expectations.

Findings

The course design used was welcomed by both students and the industry partner. Students found the novel approach intriguing and useful to their future careers. The results also exceeded the industry partner’s expectations, as students formulated valuable insights. Professors observed that learning was made easier, as content was put into practice and internalized more easily and solidly. The approach was found to be a win-win-win.

Practical implications

Students acquired a fair share of knowledge on sustainability issues and potential existing trade-offs, which is valuable to industrial practices. The industry noticed the valuable contributions that academia can provide. The university profited from providing students with a real case challenging traditional teaching methods.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the first case studies to show how LCA and ecodesign teaching practice can support sustainability learning in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2018

Sheetal Jaisingh Kamble, Anju Singh and Manoj Govind Kharat

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have long-time environmental impacts. The purpose of this paper is to assess the environmental footprint of two advanced wastewater…

Abstract

Purpose

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have long-time environmental impacts. The purpose of this paper is to assess the environmental footprint of two advanced wastewater treatment (WWT) technologies in a life cycle and sustainability perspective and identify the improvement alternatives.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study life cycle-based environmental assessment of two advanced WWT technologies (moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) and sequencing batch reactor (SBR)) has been carried out to compare different technological options. Life cycle impacts were computed using GaBi software employing the CML 2 (2010) methodology. Primary data were collected and analysed through surveys and on-site visits to WWTPs. The present study attempts to achieve significantly transparent results using life cycle assessment (LCA) in limited availability of data.

Findings

The results of both direct measurements in the studied wastewater systems and the LCA support the fact that advanced treatment has the best environmental performance. The results show that the operation phase contributes to nearly 99 per cent for the impacts of the plant. The study identified emissions associated with electricity production required to operate the WWTPs, chemical usage, emissions to water from treated effluent and heavy metal emissions from waste sludge applied to land are the major contributors for overall environmental impacts. SBR is found to be the best option for WWT as compared to MBBR in the urban context. In order to improve the overall environmental performance, the wastewater recovery, that is, reusable water should be improved. Further, sludge utilisation for energy recovery should be considered. The results of the study show that the avoided impacts of energy recovery can be even greater than direct impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from the wastewater system. Therefore, measures which combine reusing wastewater with energy generation should be preferred. The study highlights the major shortcoming, i.e., the lack of national life cycle inventories and databases in India limiting the wide application of LCA in the context of environmental decision making.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study express only the environmental impacts of the operation phase of WWT system and sludge management options. Therefore, it is recommended that further LCAs studies should be carried out to investigate construction and demolition phase and also there is need to reconsider the toxicological- and pathogen-related impact categories. The results obtained through this type of LCA studies can be used in the decision-making framework for selection of appropriate WWT technology by considering LCA results as one of the attributes.

Practical implications

The results of LCA modelling show that though the environmental impacts associated with advanced technologies are high, these technologies produce the good reusable quality of effluent. In areas where water is scarce, governments should promote reusing wastewater by providing additional treatment under safe conditions as much as possible with advanced WWT. The LCA model for WWT and management planning can be used for the environmental assessment of WWT technologies.

Originality/value

The current work provides a site-specific data on sustainable WWT and management. The study contributes to the development of the regional reference input data for LCA (inventory development) in the domain of wastewater management.

Details

World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-5945

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