An Improved Environmental Footprint Methodology for Life Cycle Assessment

Scientific coordinator Cécile Bulle speaks about Life Cycle Impact Assessment research.Widening the scope of impact analysis is critical for consistent assessment of regional life cycle emission inventories in the context of a global economy. This ground-breaking new tool will help both industries and public administrations to develop production and consumption policies, improve the products and services provided, while reducing environmental and health impacts worldwide.

To develop a more powerful tool for assessing the life cycle of products, the IMPACT WORLD+ research consortium is exploring several specific issues within the existing Life Cycle Impact Assessment framework which are currently lacking in scientific understanding.

One problem the consortium's new tool will address is the fact that some environmental problems of growing concern are poorly characterized or neglected altogether in existing Life Cycle Assessment methodologies. These inadequately addressed issues include water use, and specific emissions, such as contaminant emissions of petroleum mixtures. This leads to analytical inaccuracies when impact is shifted to one of these categories.

École Polytechnique de Montréal is developing a methodology with global coverage that accounts for regional specificity. Currently, regionalization in Life Cycle Assessment methodology is limited to single regions such as Europe, or large countries such as the U. S. or Canada. However, this type of regionalization is not relevant when assessing products and services within a global economy.

Finally, École Polytechnique de Montréal is examining how multiple sources of uncertainty are characterized. Multiple sources of uncertainty are common when assessing life cycle impact assessment and can include geographical and temporal variability, data and model uncertainties, and other variables. However, the resulting uncertainty related to each characterization factor is not provided by any current Life Cycle Assessment method.
IMPACT WORLD+ consortium led by École Polytechnique de Montréal is developing a new state-of-the-art tool for Life Cycle Impact Assessment that will address the abovementioned issues which are currently considered a shortcoming of existing Life Cycle Assessment methods. The new Life Cycle Impact Assessment tool will allow for better decision-making for governments and corporations. It will create a more accurate understanding of the impact of products on the global environment.

École Polytechnique de Montréal

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