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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Strategic Tool to Measure Environmental Performance

Companies who are serious about understanding the cradle-to-grave environmental performance of their products and operations are increasingly turning to life cycle assessment (LCA). Whether you are seeking to manage your supply chain, optimize product design and operational efficiencies, satisfy customer requests, or differentiate your products in the marketplace, you need reliable, scientifically rigorous LCA results that will empower you to make the best decisions. Conventional, off-the-shelf LCA models fall short of that mark.

Our LCA experts helped write the international ISO-14044 standard, and have continued to drive advances in LCA to ensure that you receive accurate results directly relevant to your operations, without wasting time or money on excessive data collection and analysis. These advances are empowering manufacturers, energy companies, government agencies and retailers to make better decisions to protect people and the environment with a sound return on investment.

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Lawrence Nussbaum
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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for Products and Services

LCAs generate measurable, verifiable results reflecting the impacts of products to the environment and human health throughout their life-cycle. This cradle-to-grave methodology takes into consideration all relevant impacts from the time raw materials are extracted from the ground through each stage of material processing, product manufacturing, transportation, use and final disposition.

SCS is uniquely qualified to provide you with the most advanced LCA available today, now the basis of a national standard (LEO-SCS-002) being finalized through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. Choose LCA to:

  • Design products to minimize environmental impacts
  • Optimize operational efficiencies
  • Satisfy customer requests
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Support comparative ecolabels and environmental product declarations

SCS is also licensed to conduct your LCA using popular commercial models such as SimaPro, GaBi and others.

Life Cycle Screening

Full LCA studies are not always necessary to satisfy your internal needs. LCA screening helps you identify "hot spots" in your product's life cycle, conduct preliminary scenario modeling for product design, evaluate supplier claims, and pinpoint data collection needs. If your product system includes commonly used materials and processes, screening can often be completed in a matter of days rather than weeks.

Supply Chain Verification

We support your responsible sourcing objectives by developing custom-built supply chain management tools to collect and analyze LCA data from suppliers with respect to their products, packaging and processes. This information will help you:

  • evaluate supplier compliance with your specifications
  • compare supplier performance
  • manage supply chain risks
  • compile your environmental accomplishments under one unified accounting system
  • establish the data required for independent certification

Our LCA data can be exported in the EcoSPOLD format for use with LEO-SCS-002, SimaPro, GaBi and other LCA models.

Complementary Services

SCS offers LCA-based Environmental Product Declarations as well as Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) certification. We also offer Whole Building LCAs to measure and declare reduced impacts on new or existing building and increase employee engagement around sustainability.

LEO-SCS-002

When practiced rigorously, LCA can provide an invaluable roadmap toward zero impacts, and help companies identify the most cost-effective strategies for improving environment performance. It can also support consumer-facing claims, such as Environmentally Preferable Product, and Environmental Product Declarations.

However, companies are wise to heed the old adage, "Garbage In, Garbage Out." Much of conventional LCA practice is not robust enough to support informed decisions or trustworthy consumer claims, producing far too many false positives ("phantom impacts") and negatives (omitted impacts).

Solutions Embodied in New Standard

To solve this problem, the LEO-SCS-002 standard is being developed under the open, consensus-building American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. The standard's intent is to ensure that LCAs are comprehensive, environmentally relevant, and fully compliant with the intent of the international LCA standards (ISO 14040 series).  It augments those standards with detailed guidance related to the iterative assessment steps, the establishment of impact categories and category indicators, and the calculation of results.

The Standards Committee's members, including representatives from industry, government, and environmental organizations, have experienced first-hand the excessive data fatigue and inaccuracies associated with conventional LCAs, and are committed to implementing an advanced model that builds on this experience. All stakeholders are welcome to participate in this process.

Benefits

LCA is used around the world to support a variety of objectives.

  • Establish your baseline environmental performance
  • Manage risks internally and within your supply chain
  • Evaluate your product design and processes to identify the most cost-effective, environmentally efficient improvement options
  • Satisfy customer specifications
  • Communicate with stakeholders, policy makers and regulators
  • Build brand value backed by proven performance metrics

Environmental Impact Categories

Impact categories referenced in draft LEO-SCS-002 standard

Article: Sustainable Brands

LCA: Getting It Right, by Linda Brown

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