PRESS RELEASE - CIRAIG STUDY ON PRODUCT CARBON FOOTPRINT: hydropower gives products made in Québec a significant advantage

Montréal, November 24, 2015 – The International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and services (CIRAIG) releases the results of a study spearheaded by the Ministère de l’Économie, de l'Innovation et des Exportations (MEIE) to quantify the carbon benefits of several Québec products, revealing their significant advantage.

In 2012–2013, the CIRAIG carried out a pilot project on the carbon footprint of products led by the MEIE. Among the project’s findings was the relevance of the "carbon footprinting" tool to underscore the low GHG balances of Québec products from the use of hydroelectricity. In response to this conclusion, the MEIE initiated the study to quantify the carbon benefits of a series of Québec products in order to promote the advantage in target sectors.

The energy mixes of the studied systems—secondary steel production by electric arc furnace, primary zinc (and sulfuric acid) production by hydrometallurgical process, chloralkali production by electrolysis, primary aluminium production and data centre operations—rely on a significant amount of hydroelectricity.

Their carbon footprints were compared to those of similar products in three countries or regions identified as the world’s largest producers. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the robustness of the conclusions according to a series of parameters, including process energy efficiency, total consumed inputs, energy source supply (other than electricity) and transport distances.

Overall, the carbon benefits of Québec products are significant. In most cases, they led to an average reduction in greenhouse gases of 60% (20 to 95%) as compared to the products manufactured by leading international producers. In extreme, improbable cases (for example, much less efficient production methods in Québec as compared to major manufacturing centres), Québec’s carbon benefits could be totally offset.

A critical review of the project was carried out by RDC Environnement, which confirmed the validity of the findings. It is important to note that the review committee did not consider the conclusions on aluminium production since the sector was added to the study after the review had been completed. Still, the quantification of the carbon benefits of aluminum production was carried out using the same methodology and inventory database.

The goal of the CIRAIG and the MEIE is to ensure that these results serve to promote the carbon footprinting tool and the carbon benefits of several Québec products. 

The results factsheets (in French) are available on CIRAIG’s website (

About the CIRAIG
Founded in 2001, the CIRAIG ( is a life cycle centre of expertise that is internationally recognized for its work and initiatives rooted in a strong scientific basis and close to fifteen years’ applied experience. The CIRAIG supports corporations, governments, organizations and consumers in their sustainable development plans driven by life cycle thinking. A joint initiative by Polytechnique Montréal and ESG UQAM, the CIRAIG brings together engineering and social sciences and has developed a research program driven by multidisciplinarity.

About Polytechnique Montréal
Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada's leading engineering teaching and research institutions. It is the largest engineering university in Québec for the size of its graduate student body and the scope of its research activities. With over 43,000 graduates, Polytechnique Montréal has educated nearly one-quarter of the current members of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec. Polytechnique provides training in 15 engineering specialties, has 265 professors and more than 8,000 students. It has an annual operating budget of over $200 million, including an $80-million research budget.


Recognized for the quality of its practice-oriented education, the excellence of its applied research, and its international presence, the School of Management (ESG UQAM) asserts its leadership with a bold vision for the future. With more than 15,000 students, ESG stands out from the crowd by offering 70 programs covering all areas of management. The School has a strong international focus and has forged 150 international student mobility partnerships, on top of offering its EMBA in a dozen countries in English, French, and Spanish. ESG is outstanding for its extensive and diversified team of researchers, who bring a wide range of expertise to more than thirty research units. The quality of its pure and applied research work enhances ESG’s local and international reputation and reach.

Source :
Sandra Estrela
Tel. : 438 8CIRAIG (438 824-7244)

Information :
Renée Michaud
Directrice exécutive
Tél. : 514 340-4108

GHG = Greenhouse gas