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Category: Life Cycle Assessment

From MarketWire

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY and GENEVA, SWITZERLAND–(Marketwired – Mar 3, 2014) -

  • More than EUR 10 billion for research and development for the first time
  • EU new vehicle fleet better than target, at about 128 grams CO2 / km
  • Already 54 model variants below 100 grams CO2 / km
  • Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn: "We have the world's largest low-CO2 fleet."

The Volkswagen Group is investing more than ever before in eco-friendly vehicles. Last year, Group research and development expenditure rose by 15 percent to the record value of EUR 10.2 billion. "The lion's share is going to ?green? technologies," Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, explained before the opening of the Geneva Motor Show. He said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world's leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

Successful interim assessment on the way to becoming the ecological leader Winterkorn added: "Volkswagen doesn't just talk — we also act. Last year, CO2 emissions by our EU new vehicle fleet averaged 128 grams/km. That means we are already well under the statutory threshold set for 2015." He said there had also been considerable progress in production: "We are taking great strides towards our goal of making our factories 25 percent more eco-friendly. Specifically, we aim to reduce energy and water consumption, as well as CO2 emissions, by 25 percent by 2018. Thanks to the creativity and dedication of our employees, we are already halfway to achieving this goal. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index also provides convincing proof that we set the ecological standards. The world's most important sustainability ranking listed Volkswagen in first place in 2013."

The world's largest low-CO2 fleet already on the road
Customers can currently choose between 54 model variants from Volkswagen Group brands that emit less than 100 grams CO2/km. 324 model variants are below 120 grams. Winterkorn: "The Volkswagen Group offers the world's largest low-CO2 fleet to have already taken to the road." The range includes 3-liter cars such as the Golf TDI BlueMotion1 or the Audi A3 TDI ultra2 as well as "3-euro cars" such as the eco up!3, which can travel 100 kilometers for about three euros. He said that the plug-in hybrids Golf GTE4 and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron5 were now being added to the "widest range of electric vehicles" — from the e-up!6 to the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid7. Winterkorn: "Further high-efficiency models such as the Audi A8, A6 and Q7 or the plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat are to follow soon. Because this technology has a future."

Modular toolkits safeguard future orientation
The Group's modular strategy in production means that it will be possible to electrify more than 40 models over the next few years. Winterkorn: "Our modular toolkits place us in a position to develop and build our cars faster, more flexibly and more economically than in the past. We can offer even greater variety — as well as producing niche models in a profitable way. Our toolkits also mean that we can offer all our innovations and powertrains in all segments and markets within a very short space of time."

Life cycle assessments
Winterkorn announced that Volkswagen would consistently expand its sustainability program. "We are not satisfied with just making eco-friendly cars at eco-friendly plants. We conceive and shape mobility in holistic terms. From power generation, through development, production, sale and operation to the recycling stage. With an environmental strategy that is firmly anchored and measurable with respect to all the brands and regions of the Volkswagen Group." According to Winterkorn, a life cycle assessment, i.e. a balance sheet indicating the environmental impact of a vehicle over its entire life cycle, would be produced for more and more vehicles, in line with the life cycle engineering approach.

Implementation of the environmental strategy along the value stream
The environmental strategy of the Group is therefore being implemented in a binding, measurable way in all relevant business areas along the value stream. For this reason, the high sustainability requirements of the Group are now a firm component of contracts with suppliers. Volkswagen is also the first German automaker to have joined the Clean Shipping Network in order to analyze and reduce the environmental impact of marine transport. Another example is energy efficiency advice for all Volkswagen brand dealerships in Germany, with a view to reducing the CO2 emissions of partner companies by 25 percent by 2020.

1 Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 3.8 / extra urban 3.0 / combined 3.2; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 85; efficiency class: A+
2 Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 3.8 / extra urban 3.0 / combined 3.2; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 85; efficiency class: A+
3 Fuel consumption in natural gas (CNG) kg/100 km: urban 3.6 / extra urban 2.5 / combined 2.9; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 79; efficiency class: A+
4 Fuel consumption in l/100 km (tbc): 1.5 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 35 (combined)
5 Fuel consumption in l/100 km (tbc): 1.5 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 35 (combined)
6 Energy consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.7 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0 (combined); efficiency class: A+ 7 Fuel consumption in l/100 km: 3.1 (combined); energy consumption in kWh/100 km: 16.2 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 71 (combined); efficiency class: A+








Press Release from ASG:

4 February 2014 [Santa Rosa, CA] – The Automotive Science Group (ASG) conducted a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of over 1,300 automobiles across nine categories to distinguish the BEST model year 2014 vehicles in environmental, economic, social and “all-around” performance. Auto consumers are now equipped with a car buying guide founded on principled facts, a departure from the notoriously subjective test drive “editor reviews” that have long been the industry norm. 

"ASG’s 2014 study found the Nissan Leaf to hold the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market (with minimum four person occupancy). This U.S. assembled, battery electric vehicle with an estimated 84 mile driving range is the best selling all-electric car in the world for good reason, and now consumers can be confident that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the battery electric technology is more than offset with increased environmental performance during operational life. While the electricity mix of the U.S. grid varies by region, the average mix in 2014 provides an energy source for the Nissan Leaf that is environmentally beneficial. Looking forward, energy forecasts identify a cleaner electricity mix across the U.S. grid, further increasing the environmental benefits of electric technologies in future years."

"From an economic standpoint, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark was revealed to have the lowest cost of ownership over a five-year economic forecast, taking into account purchase and operating costs of all model year 2014 automobiles available in the North American market (with minimum four person occupancy).

"And finally, from a social performance perspective – considering the rights of those charged with vehicle manufacture and assembly – the BMW Group and Nissan both produced award-winning vehicles in multiple classes, demonstrating sound corporate social responsibility initiatives."

Details of the study and the full press release can be found at the ASG website:


Press Relase  from FPE February 2014: A new report, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has benchmarked a number of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) undertaken by Flexible Packaging Europe (FPE), in a wide ranging, in depth, report to understand best practice in using LCA as an assessment tool for packaging. The report, produced under the Life Cycle Initiative – a joint organisation of UNEP and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) – summarizes the results of a project designed to consolidate outcomes of existing research on the environmental performance of packaging, namely LCA studies, in order to demonstrate the value of applying LCAs to evaluate environmental impacts for food and  beverage packaging. 

The report can be found here:  Life Cycle Initiative

Full press release can be found at FPE: UNEP Endorsement PR


Press release from the Poutry Science Association:

CHAMPAIGN, IL (January 22, 2014) – According to the results of a new study published in Poultry Science, the U.S. egg industry’s introduction of new technologies and production practices over the last 50 years has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the industry’s environmental footprint, even given today’s higher levels of egg production.

On a per-kilogram of eggs produced basis, the environmental footprint of the U.S. egg industry in 2010, versus 1960, was:

  • 71% lower in greenhouse gas emissions
  • 71% lower in eutrophying emissions
  • 65% lower in acidifying emissions

While table egg production was 30% higher in 2010 than 50 years prior, the study found impact factors were still sharply lower on an absolute basis:

  • 63% lower in greenhouse gas emissions
  • 63% lower in eutrophying emissions
  • 54% lower in acidifying emissions

The researchers determined that improvements in three key areas were responsible for the above reductions: feed efficiency, feed composition, and manure management.

The study is in the upcoming February issue of Poultry Science, published by the Poultry Science Association (PSA). (“Comparison of the environmental footprint of the egg industry in the United States in 1960 and 2010”; 2014 Poultry Science, vol. 93, no. 2:241-255;

PSA Press Release in full: HERE 

The Guidance for Product Category Rule Development has been released for public comment.This guidance document is a response to a widely recognized need for additional instruction on the development of rules specific to a category of products for making claims based on a life cycle assessment (LCA). The purpose is to supplement existing standards for LCA-based claims that require the development of product category rules (PCRs) or their equivalents. The aim is that PCRs can be developed in a consistent manner and used to support claims based on multiple standards. This document embodies the efforts of individuals with expertise in LCA and LCA-based product claims from more over 40 organizations in more than 14 countries and regions under the name of The Product Category Rule Guidance Development Initiative. More information can be found on our website,

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is hosting the draft, and comments are to be made through the CSA website.  Click here to review the draft and provide comments:

Registration is required for viewing and commenting on the document. Only comments received through the CSA online system will be accepted. Comments are due by Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:59 PM GMT 

From the co-leaders of The Product Category Rule Guidance Development Initiative

Wes Ingwersen and Vee Subramanian

After 5 years the FTC has finally made its long anticipated Green Guides available, and not surprisingly, they delayed guidance on the use of LCA to support marketing claims.  This was an acceptable position to make back in early 1998 when LCA was still ramping up on the awareness curve.  Since then LCA to support marketing claims, particularly in the development of Product Category Rules (PCRs) for companies to produce Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) has grown substantially.  There are several  major standards and testing organizations (ULE and NSF International) that now exist as operators (entities the help develop and manage PCRs) and the USGBC is on the verge of release version 4 of its well-known LEED credit system. 

Reasons for continuing to analyze LCA based claims instead of providing guidance can be found in the Statement of Basis and Purpose, where “because it [FTC] lacked information about how consumers interpret these claims” and “due to the complexity of these claims, general advice is unlikely to be useful in any particular case.”


When things are complex, that is time when guidance is most useful.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until 2017 to see if the FTC will complete its analysis and actually provide guidance.  In the meantime the gap is being filled by non-profit organizations such as the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment developing more detailed guidance and the Global Environmental Declarations Network (GEDnet) which has a very useful library on PCRs developed around the globe:

Sept. 21, 2012

Gwen Schuler, Community Relations,, (253) 591-5160
Lorna Sutton, Community Relations,, (253) 573-2352

Tacoma hosts 2012 Life Cycle Assessment Conference

More than 300 visitors from around the globe will take part in the 2012 American Center for Life Cycle Assessment International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment, The LCA XII conference theme is “Life Cycle Thinking; Life Cycle Living.” Tacoma was chosen as the host site for the conference because it is the first city in the nation to receive the Life Cycle City designation. The conference will take place at the Hotel Murano on Sept. 25-27.

Over the course of the conference participants will engage in discussions on innovative concepts, new approaches to research and industry best practices. Attendees will be arriving from more than 15 different countries ranging from Belgium to the United Kingdom. Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland will also be represented.

A pre-conference reception is scheduled for Monday evening, Sept. 24, at the Center for Urban Waters. Sessions open Tuesday, Sept. 25, with Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland’s welcome and a keynote address by Martin Bortzmeyer, Chief of the French Office of Sustainable Development. The conference, featuring high-level speakers discussing the latest trends in lifecycle assessment, concludes on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Life cycle assessment is the science of measuring the environmental performance of products and services from cradle to grave. A complete assessment measures the environmental impacts of all phases of a product’s life and leads to Environmental Product Declarations (EDP), eco-labels that can lead to economic benefit.


The LEED 2012 third public comment was open from March 1-27, 2012. According to the USGBC this third draft of the rating system is “focused on providing a globally applicable, simple-to-use, technically advanced system.” Members of the public were asked to comment on substantive changes made since the second public comment period. LEED will be balloted in June and launch in November.

The LEED 2012 goal for the Materials and Resource category is to “shift building material thinking to holistic decision making through life cycle thinking.”MR Credits are organized into four areas of focus:

1) Reuse of buildings;

2) Assessment & Optimization using LCA, EPD and Single Prescriptive attributes;

3) Waste Management and

4) Human and Ecological Health.

A webinar on the details fo the Materials and Resources structure and points can be found here:Materials and Resources


Important Dates:

Now – May 15: LEED 2012 Ballot Opt-In Period

May 1-15: LEED 2012 4th Public Comment is open

June 1-30: LEED 2012 Ballot Voting Period

Details on the USGBC website can be found here:





The public comment period provides all interested parties with the opportunity to comment on the draft of the LEO-SCS-002 standard IS NOW OPEN and closes JUNE 12, 2012.

The public comment period is part of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) process being used to develop it. The Standard Committee will review and address each comment.

For details on the process and the forms to provide comments, visit the website here:


Type III Life-Cycle Impact Profile Declarations for Products, Services and Systems (LEO-SCS-002)


Environmental Declarations for Products and Systems

Environmental Preferable Product Claims

Carbon Footprint Profiles

(February 2012)

The objective of the Type III Life-Cycle Impact Profile Declarations for Products, Services and Systems Standard (LEO-SCS-002) is to specify the life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods, scope, metrics and format for declarations. The LEO-SCS-002 standard will comply with the requirements of ISO 14044 and ASTM draft standard E06.71.10. LEO-SCS-002 is intended to develop a uniform and standardized format for properly reporting the environmental life-cycle impacts of any system studied and explicitly excludes weighting factors and interpretation of LCIA results.

Need for the Standard
Products, services and systems can have significant environmental impacts. These impacts can vary depending upon facilities and their energy sources, technologies in place, material and energy input sources, and the surrounding environments. Frequently, changes made to improve environmental performance, particularly for one aspect, can result in unintended trade-offs. In order to make informed decisions and minimize trade-offs, it is necessary to have verifiable environmental performance data and information in a consistent format, based on a full life-cycle impact assessment.

Process Stakeholders
Stakeholders include, but are not limited to:

  • Service industries and their clients
  • Building industry professionals
  • Building owners and operators
  • Material and product manufacturers, suppliers and retailers
  • Energy and utility providers
  • Policy makers and government representatives
  • Environmental advocacy groups
  • Consumer group
  • Academics
  • Other interested parties
BETHESDA, MD— Lithium (Li-ion) batteries, used to power plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, show overall promise to “fuel” these vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions but there are a few areas for improvement to reduce possible environmental and public health impacts, according to a “cradle to grave” study of advanced Li-ion batteries conducted by Abt Associates for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The study, carried out through a partnership with EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Li-ion battery industry, and academicians, was the first life cycle assessment (LCA) to bring together and use data directly provided by Li-ion battery suppliers, manufacturers, and recyclers. Its purpose was to identify the materials or processes within a Li-ion battery’s life cycle that most contribute to impacts on public health and the environment, so that battery manufacturers could use this information to improve the environmental profile of their products, while the technology is still emerging. It also sought to evaluate the potential impacts of a nanotechnology innovation (i.e., a carbon nanotube anode) that could improve battery performance.
“It is well established that Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles are definitely a step in the right direction from traditional gasoline fueled vehicles and nickel metal-hydride automotive batteries, but some of the materials and methods used to manufacture them could be improved,” said Jay Smith, an Abt senior analyst and co-lead of the LCA. “For example, our study showed that the batteries that use cathodes with nickel and cobalt, as well as solvent-based electrode processing, show the highest potential for environmental impacts, like resource depletion, global warming, and ecological toxicity, and human health impacts–primarily resulting from the production, processing, and use of cobalt and nickel metal compounds, which can cause adverse respiratory, pulmonary, and neurological effects in those exposed.” Smith added that there are viable ways to reduce these impacts, including cathode material substitution, solvent-less electrode processing, and recycling of metals from the batteries.
Among other findings, Shanika Amarakoon, an Abt associate who co-led the LCA with Smith, said global warming and other environmental and health impacts were shown to be influenced by the electricity grids used to charge the batteries when driving the vehicles.
“These impacts are sensitive to local and regional grid mixes,” said Amarakoon. “If the batteries in use are drawing power from the grids in the Midwest or South, much of the electricity will be coming from coal-fired plants. If it’s in New England or California, the grids rely more on renewables and natural gas, which emit less greenhouse gases and other toxic pollutants. Our report identifies the need for cleaner electricity generation, especially in regions where a larger number of electric vehicles are anticipated,” Amarakoon said. “However, impacts from the processing and manufacture of these batteries should not be overlooked.”
In terms of battery performance, Smith said that “the nanotechnology applications that we assessed were single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), which are currently being researched for use as anodes as they show promise for improving the energy density and ultimate performance of the Li-ion batteries in vehicles. What we found, however, is that the energy needed to produce the SWCNT anodes in these early stages of development is prohibitive. Over time, if researchers focus on reducing the energy intensity of the manufacturing process before commercialization, the overall environmental profile of the technology has the potential to improve dramatically.”
The LCA results and methodology are described in detail in the EPA/Abt report, “Lithium-ion Batteries and Nanotechnology for Electric Vehicles: A Life Cycle Assessment,” The research for the LCA was undertaken through the Lithium-ion Batteries and Nanotechnology for Electric Vehicles Partnership, which was led by EPA’s Design for the Environment Program in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and Toxics, and EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory in the Office of Research and Development. The Partnership also included industry partners (i.e., battery manufacturers, recyclers, and suppliers, and other industry groups), the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab, Arizona State University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates was ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms in 2011 and also named one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries.