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Progress in Life Cycle Assessment 2018

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About this book

This book comprises recent developments in life cycle assessment (LCA) both with regards to the methodology and its application in various research fields, including mobility, engineering and manufacturing. Containing numerous original research articles from leading German research institutes, the book provides an insightful resource for professionals working in the field of sustainability assessment, for researchers interested in the current state of LCA research as well as for advanced university students in different scientific and engineering fields.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Methodological Developments

Frontmatter
Beyond Production—the Relevance of User Decision and Behaviour in LCA
Abstract
The way in which products and services are used can have a significant impact on their environmental performance. Practice shows, however, that life cycle assessment (LCA) studies often either assume average usage parameters, or only address a limited number of life cycle phases (‘cradle to gate’), without considering the use phase. This chapter therefore aims to emphasize the relevance of user decision and behaviour in LCA and to discuss related modelling aspects with regard to the definition of system boundaries, the definition of the use phase and the collection of inventory data. Furthermore, processes of decision-making in the context of LCA are critically reflected and suggestions for improvements are discussed.
Johanna Pohl, Paul Suski, Franziska Haucke, Felix M. Piontek, Michael Jäger
Ecological Assessment Based on Environmental Product Declarations
Abstract
For some years now, environmental product declarations (EPDs) have been available to the public mainly for b2b communication. These contain important environmental impact categories (EIC) and are based on an externally audited life cycle analysis (LCA) according to current ISO standards. The information from EPDs can be used for company-internal product benchmarks and ecological optimizations. The method described in this paper follows the German Federal Environment Agency’s ecological priority method and investigates ecological scarcity, distance-to-target and specific contribution. The article explains the ecological single-score method based on EPD data and validates it against common single score assessments (ReCiPe and UBP). Therefore, 9 case studies have been examined by comparing the full LCA with the results of the new method based on EPD data. As a result, 8 out of 9 studies have similar results with the same benchmark rating. With this information important action alternatives for the future can be derived and ecological product optimization can be pursued.
Tobias Brinkmann, Lukas Metzger
Social Sustainability as a Target Figure in Life Cycle Assessment: Development of a Catalogue of Criteria for Measuring the Social Dimension
Abstract
In contrast to the ecological sustainability dimension, the social dimension in science is less concretized and operationalized due to the inherent characteristics of social themes. The subject areas of social sustainability are sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another and thus very complex, mostly affecting both the individual level and society as a whole. Companies that wish to monitor compliance with social aspects, are therefore faced with the challenge of mapping and thus developing clear criteria for describing the social sustainability dimension. In this article, currently effective frameworks, process guidelines and management approaches are analyzed in terms of content. The derived results show five main categories of interest in social sustainability, whereby each can be sub-divided into sub-categories. Only 17% of all criteria could be identified as quantified. In addition, it is determined that the allocation of available data in a company or supply chain is feasible for several categories or subcategories. On the other hand, the close link with economic indicators allows for flexible analysis of social sustainability based on existing data applicable to the developed set of criteria.
Claudia Hösel, Christina Hesse, Rico Pestinger

Mobility

Frontmatter
Comparing Carbon Performances of Mobility Services and Private Vehicles from a Life Cycle Perspective
Abstract
Mobility services are predicted to replace private passenger vehicles to sizeable shares in the short- and middle-term. Although the carbon saving potential of mobility services compared to private vehicles is widely acknowledged, empirical studies are lacking and research designs remain unreplicated. In order to determine common characteristics of studies comparing life cycle carbon emissions of mobility services and passenger vehicles, we conducted a standardized literature review. We showed that current Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)-based approaches in the research field mostly apply two methodological characteristics: (1) person-km (p-km) are used as reference unit to compare carbon performances across transport modes and (2) scenario-analyses are used to deal with the poor data basis and disruptive character of mobility services. Most studies focus on comparing conventionally-powered car sharing vehicles to passenger cars within a one year timeframe in urban areas. Mobility services like ride hailing and pooling as well as alternative power trains remain largely neglected. Policy-makers and customers were found to be the main addressees of case studies. The private sector is least addressed thus showing the need for future research on a mix of mobility services and private vehicles with different power trains on fleet level.
Mara Neef, Tina Dettmer, Liselotte Schebek
Sustainability Impacts of Mobility as a Service: A Scoping Study for Technology Assessment
Abstract
The potential for positive sustainability impacts of Mobility as a Service schemes is frequently mentioned in both scientific literature and public media, although a systematic evaluation of potential impacts is lacking thus far. In preparation of an in-depth technology assessment, we conduct a scoping study aimed at achieving a better conceptualization of what core elements constitute Mobility as a Service, what risks and opportunities are associated with this concept and how these may be further analyzed as part of a technology assessment project. Reviewing a total of 95 sources from academic literature as well as grey literature and media reports, we provide a synthesis of the core elements of Mobility as a Service schemes, develop hypotheses on the risks and opportunities involved and propose a framework for further assessment of the associated sustainability impacts.
Rikka Wittstock, Frank Teuteberg
Dynamisation of Life Cycle Assessment Through the Integration of Energy System Modelling to Assess Alternative Fuels
Abstract
As greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced in order to limit the effects of climate change, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an internationally recognized framework to evaluate the environmental impact of energy supply and application technologies. However, standard LCA approaches are unable to depict the high dynamics of the future energy system. High shares of renewable energies and more variable loads intensify these dynamics according to a wide range of energy system scenarios. Therefore, a dynamisation and modularisation of the classic LCA approach is proposed in order to easily integrate the simulated electricity generation from energy system models on an hourly basis as well as future energy technologies. A special focus is put on Power-to-X (PtX) technologies in the transport sector due to its potential in deep decarbonisation scenarios.
Simon Pichlmaier, Anika Regett, Stephan Kigle

Energy

Frontmatter
External Costs as Indicator for the Environmental Performance of Power Systems
Abstract
Power system planning progressively demands integrated assessment methodologies to meet the requirements of environmental sustainability goals. An approach to include environmental impacts into power system decision procedures is the use of external costs. To investigate the applicability of external costs for the environmental assessment of power systems, we integrate external costs into the method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on the case of power generation technologies. The correlation between the LCA results considering external costs on the one hand and on the other hand standard midpoint impact assessment is investigated by regression analysis. We found that eutrophication (marine and terrestrial), acidification, photochemical ozone creation, respiratory effects and climate change show correlation (R2 = 0.97–0.66). In contrast, the categories concerning land and resource use are not correlating. The correlation mainly depends on the elementary flows which are accounted for. External costs lack in including the variety of elementary flows which are considered in the midpoint assessment. An application of external costs as sole impact indicator of power systems is not recommendable at the current state of development and further research activity for the use in LCA is proposed.
Lukas Lazar, Ingela Tietze
A Spatially Explicit Life Cycle Assessment Tool for Residential Buildings in Lower Saxony: Development and Sample Application
Abstract
The ambitious goal of the German federal government to achieve a “nearly climate-neutral” building stock by 2050 should be underpinned by detailed knowledge on the whole life cycle of the housing stock in Germany. Therefore, a life cycle assessment (LCA) tool is developed, that combines the embodied energy (energy used for production of a building) as well as the energy consumption of existing buildings. By combining LCA data with a customized extract from the 2011 census for parts for Lower Saxony, the tool allows for spatially explicit assessments on a square kilometer grid. The classification of buildings, using building type and construction year, offers the possibility to quickly evaluate the building stock without the need for detailed information. In the future, the tool will be expanded to enable comparing the impact of actions like renovation of existing buildings on the one hand, and demolition with new construction on the other. Thus, scenarios can be analyzed and priorities for interventions identified. Combined with other information in regional sustainability assessments, for example mobility analyses and environmental impacts of land consumption, the tool will allow exploring paths to greater sustainability for the built environment.
Ann-Kristin Mühlbach, Michael W. Strohbach, Thomas Wilken

Production and Logistics

Frontmatter
Comparative Life Cycle Assessment Study on Cyanobacteria and Maize as Feedstock for Polylactic Acid
Abstract
The move towards a bioeconomy requires to overcome the lack of biomass and to develop new processes for the production of chemicals and materials. Cyanobacteria can play a key role in the bioeconomy due to their fast growth and year-round production possibilities. In this study the life cycle assessment approach is applied in order to address three goals: (i) to evaluate the potential of cyanobacterial biomass as a replacement of maize as feedstock for polylactic acid; (ii) to identify the drivers of the environmental impacts; (iii) to assess three different improvement scenarios. Results show that cyanobacteria are currently not environmentally competitive with maize. The high electricity demand, the carbon dioxide requirements as well as urea are identified as crucial factor for the environmental impacts of cyanobacterial biomass. Replacing the electricity mix by wind power, reducing the carbon dioxide supply as well as upscaling of the lab-scale system reduces the environmental burden considerably. Further research is however necessary to optimize the production chain and to use biomass residues for valuable co-products.
Maresa Bussa, Cordt Zollfrank, Hubert Röder
Assessment of Sustainability on Dairy Farms in Central Germany Based on Energy and Nutrient Balances
Abstract
An ecological evaluation of farms is shown using “REPRO”, a software, which makes it possible to represent agricultural actions including consequences. The system approach reduces the complexity of nature to a cycle where agricultural activity has an influence on. Thus, all decisions play a significant role. “REPRO” enables e.g. a condition analysis. The program consists of a crop cultivation and an animal area. For the overall farm analyze, the crop production results are transferred to the animal area. The climate impact is illustrated by a greenhouse gas balance, the ratio of nutrient emissions and energy intensity in their carbon dioxide equivalents to the product. The results show to what extend the examined dairy farms differ and where they resemble each other. It is shown that keeping cattle with an increased amount of straw and solid manure disposal leads to an increase in nitrous oxide emissions compared to low straw stabling and liquid manure removal. But in slurry storage this leads to a higher methane emission. Oversizing of agricultural machinery in animal feed production could also be identified. The ratios to the product show a high degree of similarity in two farms, although one farm has significantly lower emissions.
Clara Heider-van-Diepen
Carbon Footprint Accounting for General Goods—A Comparison
Abstract
Carbon emissions are an actual topic in the European public discussion due to the climate objectives of the European Union and the countries in specific. Especially the traffic and the transport sector have been evaluated as polluters so that logistics service providers and forwarders are getting into the focus of their customers to provide a systemic approach in calculating the carbon footprint of their logistics services. In addition customers struggle to compare carbon footprints of several logistics service providers and forwarders, due to the lack of a common standard for calculating of carbon emissions. There are two existing approaches, which are getting in focus for the logistics companies if they have not outsourced the calculation or are using fee-based calculation software. On the one hand, there is the European standard EN 16258, which has been established in Europe to create more transparency and on the other hand there is the GLEC framework as a global approach which aims to create a global standardized procedure. Both standards allow different approaches for emission calculation which lead to totally different results of carbon emission. Due to that a comparable value for customers and stakeholder is not given.
Daniel Hülemeyer, Dustin Schoeder
Metadata
Title
Progress in Life Cycle Assessment 2018
Editors
Prof. Dr. Frank Teuteberg
Dr. Maximilian Hempel
Prof. Dr. Liselotte Schebek
Copyright Year
2019
Electronic ISBN
978-3-030-12266-9
Print ISBN
978-3-030-12265-2
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12266-9

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