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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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 22 February 2022

Isuri Anuradha Amarasinghe and Chandanie Hadiwattege

Despite the desire to improve the sustainability of the construction industry, Sri Lanka is still plagued by the low-level adoption of essential methods such as Life Cycle…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the desire to improve the sustainability of the construction industry, Sri Lanka is still plagued by the low-level adoption of essential methods such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in building and infrastructure delivery. It is indispensable to investigate enablers for facilitating LCA because identification of enablers is a crucial step in the implementation of LCA. This study aims to analyze internal and external enablers for facilitating LCA for the Sri Lankan construction industry from the perspective of five stakeholder categories (academia, government, construction industry, society and environmentalists) and also aims to develop strategies to strengthen the enablers.

Design/methodology/approach

An explanatory research design was used. The five stakeholder categories identified above, whose contribution is essential for implementing LCA in Sri Lanka, were selected for data collection. A total of 20 semi-structured interviews were held representing each stakeholder category. The Repertory Grid Interview (RGI) technique was utilized and data analysis was performed using content analysis.

Findings

The results revealed that “ability to identify opportunities for environmental improvements as an extremely important internal enabler for all stakeholder categories” and “the positive growth in the country to achieve environmental sustainability”, “the availability of standardized LCA guides and handbooks” as extremely important external enablers for all stakeholder categories for facilitating LCA in the Sri Lankan construction industry. Further, strategies including making people aware of the LCA concept and development of the LCA database, etc. were proposed to strengthen the enablers.

Practical implications

Knowledge generated through this study would enable the abovementioned stakeholders to make informed decisions to promote the implementation of LCA in the Sri Lankan construction industry. Further, the results of this study have raised awareness of the issues that Sri Lanka will need to solve to expand the LCA applications.

Originality/value

So far, research on LCA has not looked into enablers that can facilitate the implementation of LCA in the Sri Lankan construction industry. This research provides a comprehensive view of the internal and external enablers for facilitating LCA from the perspective of five stakeholder categories and identifies enablers that led the abovementioned stakeholders to pursue the implementation of LCA in the Sri Lankan construction industry. The study also proposes strategies for strengthening the enablers.

Details

Built Environment Project and Asset Management, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2044-124X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 January 2022

Aliakbar Kamari, Bartlomiej Marek Kotula and Carl Peter Leslie Schultz

A robust method in environmental load assessment of buildings is urgently required to reduce the environmental burden of the construction industry. While the industry…

586

Abstract

Purpose

A robust method in environmental load assessment of buildings is urgently required to reduce the environmental burden of the construction industry. While the industry utilizes the life cycle assessment (LCA) method to assess environmental impacts of detailed designs, the implementation of changes at that late stage of development is often expensive and undesirable. On the other hand, during the early design stages, the LCA method is severely limited by the lack of information available, e.g., uncertainty about final materials to be used. This research study investigates how building information modeling (BIM) can facilitate LCA analysis at an early design stage.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review is conducted to establish a framework for BIM and LCA integration, which creates the foundation for the development of a new BIM-based LCA tool. The tool is empirically evaluated on a large case study of a residential building in Denmark.

Findings

Case study results show that the new tool facilitates decision-making in an integrated design process, providing reliable LCA results on an early stage model, while avoiding intermediate manual input by the end user in contrast to other commercial LCA tools.

Originality/value

A first prototype of a BIM-based tool is demonstrated, which allows professionals, small architectural companies, students and researchers to calculate the environmental loads of the building in the early design stage in an automated, transparent and time-saving manner.

Details

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6099

Keywords

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

Keywords

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

Keywords

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.

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…

1013

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

Keywords

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

Keywords

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

Keywords

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

Keywords

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