New Methods II: New Methods and Concepts of LCM II
An integrated LCM framework for manufacturing SMEs
1The University of Auckland, New Zealand; 2KBS Sustainable Innovation Partners, New Zealand; 3Massey University, New Zealand
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) dominate most modern economies in terms of their sheer numbers. As a collective group, these companies currently have a vast impact on the environment. However, in comparison to larger organisations, SMEs are facing formidable challenges adapting to the growing demands for improved environmental performance.
International research has found that many manufacturing SMEs are failing to adopt even the most basic requirements of environmentally sustainable manufacturing. This is partly caused by the lack of appropriate LCM approaches tailored towards the requirements of smaller organisations, coupled with the fact that SMEs generally have limited financial resources and lack the knowledge and skills required to make the necessary changes. These are significant barriers for those companies who want to improve the environmental performance of their products and processes. There is an increasing awareness in the literature that LCM frameworks, infrastructures and methods need to be developed which take into account specific characteristics of SMEs such as: Owner/manager influence, organisational culture, systems and processes, customers, markets and stakeholders.
The aim of our research has been to develop an LCM framework which facilitates the creation of an organisational culture which supports environmental sustainability innovation in SMEs. Our research approach has been methodological triangulation, combining quantitative and qualitative methods, a thorough literature review, surveys, participatory action research, case studies and systems engineering tools. On this basis, we have developed an LCM framework for environmental sustainability together with a range of tools and methods in a step by step manner, validating them by applying them in a number of action research cases and minor case studies, and comparing them with findings in the literature.
Our framework integrates existing LCM approaches available to industry with new insights into the requirements and dynamics of the implementation of environmentally sustainable practices in manufacturing SMEs. Our LCM framework provides SMEs with a practical strategic ‘roadmap’ to enable them to effectively establish, implement and take advantage of environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices. It involves three stages:
1. Baseline Assessment – an approach for identifying a organisation’s current environmental position, establishing a ‘sustainability roadmap’, and moving it from a defensive to a proactive approach to sustainability;
2. ecoWheel® – a visual communication tool to facilitate the effective development of an EMS;
3. ecoPortal® – a web-based infrastructure to integrate sustainability into the culture of the company and to facilitate collaboration with external stakeholders.
LCM of rainwater harvesting systems in emerging neighborhoods in Colombia
1Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; 2Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Colombia; 3Inèdit Innovació, Spain; 4Technical University of Catalonia, Spain
South American countries and particularly in Colombia, experiences in LCM are limited and can be considered a new subject, particularly in the environmental impacts study of systems of rainwater harvesting (RWH) for urban domestic use in buildings.
There is great pressure on water resources and water supply networks, due to the growing increase in the construction of new neighborhoods in developing countries, especially Colombia. However Colombia is one of the top 20 countries of the world's water supply with an average rainfall greater than 3,000 L/m2 per year.
For this research we have chosen pilot study of neighborhoods located in two important cities of Colombia, Bogotá and Pereira with average rainfall of 794 and 2,258 L/m2 to represent the conditions of urban growth leading the country.
Systems integrate the RWH system divided in 3 subsystems: catchment, storage and distribution. We analyzed the location of the concrete tank: below roof, over roof and underground.
This research responds to the following objectives: a) To evaluate performing the life cycle analysis of potential systems for rainwater collection and utilization in emerging neighborhoods of cities in Colombia. Neighborhoods with different pluviometry ranks and similar constructive density; b) To propose a dynamic approach as a tool for life cycle analysis of systems that use rainwater from the perspective of LCM in others development countries.
The main results are in the city of Bogota with 10 buildings of 24 apartments per building and a catchment area of 700m2 per building, one neighborhood may consume 3,500 m3 of rain water year. The same case in the city of Pereira present consumption of 8,900 m3 under current conditions mean monthly rainfall in a standard neighborhood.
Based on this data, the greatest potential environmental impact is found associated with storage in the category of Global warming with 705,930 kg CO2 eq in the city of Pereira and 277,613 in the city of Bogotá for each neighborhood per year. However, for each case, we would be leaving to deliver to the environment near to 23,502 tons of CO2 eq in Pereira and 9,242 tons of CO2 eq in Bogotá if implemented RWH systems from the start of the new work.
The planning of water supply with stormwater systems is very important in Colombia because we expect more than 1,000,000 new houses according to policies of urban growth for the next 4 years.
The usefulness of an actor’s perspective in LCA
1SKF, Sweden; 2Chalmers, Sweden; 3Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Sweden
LCA is a tool that illustrates the entire life cycle of products and services and quantify their environmental impacts. A frequently asked question in LCAs is “which part of the life cycle contribute the most to the environmental burden of a product/ service?“ and the most common method used is the dominance analysis. A dominant use phase contribution to global warming is found in most products consuming energy during product application like cars, computers, and light bulbs. In the case of animal food products, such as milk and yogurt, the agricultural processes usually dominate the life-cycle environmental impact. These are typical examples of how one can learn and pinpoint so called hotspots in the product life cycle when using LCA.
However, to what extent does such analysis underpin an improvement of the situation? Is the conclusion of the analysis relevant for the receiver of the results, or, in other words, to what extent can he or she influence? It is our experience that LCA’s holistic nature often urges the analyst to define very broad goals, forgetting that no decision maker alone can influence the whole value chain of a product. Policy maker’s power of influence is limited by national borders and industrial actors and consumers are limited by their location in the value chain. Results based on an analysis not taking this into account risk to mislead actors into underestimating their ability to influence and improve the product, especially if they are not acting in the dominating phase of the product life cycle. Should a worker in manufacturing stop bothering about the environmental consequences of the product he is producing if the results from an LCA contribution analysis show that the contribution of his processes is only a small fraction of the total?
The importance of an actor’s perspective has been highlighted since the beginning of LCA and the broader field of Industrial Ecology. However, developments in theory and practice including an actor’s perspective are rarely found. This paper highlights usefulness and value of adding an actor’s perspective to the LCA methodology. Examples are presented from several case studies in different sectors, such as manufacturing sector, the food sector and the building sector.
Time and life-cycle assessment: How to take time into account in the inventory step?
1INRA, France; 2Montpellier SupAgro, France
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is traditionally an assessment tool which considers only steady state processes; the temporal and spatial properties of extractions, usage and emissions are lost during the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) step. Furthermore the existing impacts assessment methods are not able to take into account temporally differentiated data. However environmental and industrial systems are dynamic, and temporal variations of their states affect impacts assessment. ISO recognizes that not taking time into account significantly reduces the environmental relevance of some results. The consideration of time in LCA can be done at different levels. The major studies in this field mainly focus on four topics: the evaluation of technological improvements, the development of dynamic inventories, the development of dynamic impact methods, and the study of long term impacts. Nevertheless, the development of dynamic impact methods and the study of long term impacts are both based on dynamic inventory data. Consequently it seems essential to develop a general methodology to achieve a temporal LCI. In addition this new framework should keep the computation effort as low as possible.
The aim of this study is to determine which steps - in a whole process tree - have to be considered as dynamic ones and which could be approximated by a steady state representation. The first step is to carry out a conventional LCA, in order to define the system and construct the process tree. As our objective is to reduce the introduction of the dynamic to only most relevant processes, most significant processes are selected by contribution analysis. For practical reasons, the contribution analysis is carried away on a single score impact aggregating different impacts. Then depending on the impacts affected by the selected processes and their respective time-dependency, the time step on which the data are aggregated is defined. This approach leads to specify where it is the most relevant to bring out the dynamic in the process tree and how this dynamic could be propagated to other unit processes.
1Leuphana University, Germany; 2ifu Hamburg, Germany
Computers can support life cycle management in different ways. Normally, PC software in this field like Gabi, Simapro or Umberto are characterized as stand-alone solutions. I would be better to have a fully integrated module within standard enterprise resource planning systems (ERP systems) to provide decision support in the field of life cycle management.
The question is why the stand-alone software tools are successful while still no software modules for ERP systems are available. In our contribution, we want to show - mainly based on communication and systems theories - that software tools are in fact more important now. Therefore, we show that life cycle management can be interpreted as a new management approach that focuses the transition phase of companies to more corporate sustainability. As long as sustainability is not part of daily routine operations, this new kind of management requires a special kind of software support (and ERP systems cannot provide this new kind of support): Not only information support enhancing rational decision making but also support for effective communication (see Winograd, Flores 1986). First life cycle thinking (and other images of life cycle assessment and live cycle management) must become part of the social reality before they are self-evident background of routine operations.
Software that supports the transition phase has to visualize the novel problems and challenges of sustainability (scarcity of resources, climate change etc.). And they should provide good arguments in communication processes. Therefore, the tools implement the new “language” of life cycle management, including e.g. life cycle, process, inventory, impact category etc. But the language includes as well images: flow charts, Sankey diagrams, typical bar charts for impact assessment, the cost matrix of material flow cost accounting etc. So, an important feature of software tools should be to make it possible to speak about the challenges of sustainability.
In our contribution we want to clarify the importance of this contribution of software tools to the new “language” of life cycle management. We call this perspective “visual accounting”. We understand it as a design principle for software development. The purpose is an effective support of life cycle management in the transition phase.
The EPD 2.0 concept
PE INTERNATIONAL, Germany
Building products manufacturers increasingly use LCA based information for their environmental communication. ISO 14025 consistent Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) provide an ideal format and verification structure, to deliver unbiased information transparently. The EPDs themselves are on the one hand side used in marketing and communication and demonstrate a company’s responsibility for sustainability impacts. On the other hand side, the information provided in EPDs is directly used in quantified ways in building assessment schemes. The European DGNB assessment scheme for example is performance-oriented and used total building LCA calculation and benchmarking in its certification process. This procedure is in line with the upcoming standardization in the field of sustainable construction. EPDs are the basis for the environmental assessment according to the DGNB scheme.
But is the intention of companies to generate EPDs only because of the sheer communicational aspects? Having experienced over one hundred successful EPD projects it shows that in most of the projects there is much more intention in such projects. The presentation will provide insights into companies’ EPD projects, summarizing how these companies make use of EPDs today, in their internal and external communication, and in their eco-design activities. With the “EPD 2.0 concept”, a new way of integrating life cycle management is introduced: Starting point for process and product optimization, product related environmental management and sustainability communication.