Operationalization and Implementation System Analysis Impact Assessment Social and Socioeconomic Assessment

Operationalization and Implementation

The operationalization and implementation theme is a new initiative for the Chair’s second mandate. The principal objective is to develop tools and approaches to operationalize life cycle thinking for partner-specific applications. To do so, the Chair will study the conditions for the operationalization of life cycle tools in organizations and find answers to three determining questions: 1) How can life cycle tools enhance the supply, production, R&D, marketing and communication processes of businesses? 2) How can administrators use these tools to support public procurement offers, the assessment of infrastructure projects or the determination of public policies? 3) How can these tools be used to better manage risks, leverage performance and foster strategic and innovative development?

System Analysis

LCA is a holistic assessment of environmental effects that considers the life cycle of a product or service. However, there are certain issues that traditional LCA cannot evaluate. Traditional LCA, which is used by most consultants and research centres, is attributional, aspatial, atemporal and modeled on a process-based approach, only represents small-scale changes and often stems from European technological data that is less adapted to other areas. Attributional LCA therefore does not adequately assess the consequences of the implementation of a new technology, and an atemporal LCA of a product over a long period of time will notcalculate an ecological footprint, thus leading to increased uncertainty.

Impact Assessment

Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is a crucial phase of LCA. LCIA characterizes the potential impacts generated by the emitted substances listed in the inventory. The challenge in LCIA is to increase its scientific validity and enable a better use of the results in LCA. Research and harmonization efforts will be invested to make the World IMPACT method operational. This work will be carried out in collaboration with other research centres and various working groups of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative.

Social and Socioeconomic Assessment

The social and socioeconomic aspects are vital to ensure that life cycle thinking fully contributes to sustainable development. Social life cycle assessment (SLCA) explores the social and socioeconomic components of the life cycle of a product or service. The recent guidelines set out by UNEP/SETAC (2009) for SLCA (chiefly developed by the CIRAIG) provide a framework but the methodologies to operationalize these aspects are inadequately documented and incomplete.