Life Cycle & Material Flow Analysis (LCA/MFA)

  • Overview
  • Cases

LCAAltanova’s Life Cycle Assessment and Material Flow Analysis services are based on a set of methods rigorously defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to evaluate and understand the entire environmental footprint of a product, a service, or an organization across its full life cycle or across its full operation cycle.

Methodology

Life cycle assessments (LCA) model the complex interaction between a product and the environment from cradle to grave. It is also known as life cycle analysis or ecobalance.

Altanova’s team uses LCAs and MFAs to identify potential opportunities to reduce the carbon or overall environmental footprint for a product or organization through material sourcing and selection, design, utilization, and end of life management. This helps organizations and designers better market their sourcing, manufacturing and production, while working with internal teams to reduce their environmental liabilities and production costs.

Altanova’s approach to LCAs follows the below guidelines:

What is an LCA?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), provides guidelines for conducting an LCA within the series ISO 14040 and 14044. The main phases of an LCA are:

  • Goal & Scope
  • Inventory Analysis
  • Impact Assessment
  • Interpretation

Goal & Scope definition

The goal & scope definition is a guide that ensures the LCA is performed consistently. In this section the most important (often subjective) choices of the study are described in detail i.e. methodological choices, assumptions and limitations, particularly with regards to the following issues.

  • System boundaries
  • Multiple output processes/allocation
  • Avoided impacts

Inventory analysis of extractions and emissions

A life cycle inventory (LCI) includes information on all of the environmental inputs and outputs associated with a product or service, such as material and energy requirements, emissions and waste. The inventory process seems simple, however, it is subject to a number of practical issues.

  • Geographical variations
  • Data quality
  • Choice of technology

Impact assessment

The inventory list is the result of all input and output environmental flows of a product system. However, a long list of information is difficult to interpret, which is why a further step is needed, known as a life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). An LCIA consists of 4 steps:

  • Classification: all substances are sorted into classes according to the effect they have on the environment.
  • Characterization: all the substances are multiplied by a factor which reflects their relative contribution to the environmental impact.
  • Normalization: the quantified impact is compared to a certain reference value, for example the average environmental impact of a European citizen in one year.
  • Weighting: different value choices are given to impact categories to generate a single score.

For each substance, a schematic cause response pathway needs to be developed that describes the environmental mechanism of the substance emitted. Along this environmental mechanism a impact category indicator result can be chosen either at the midpoint or endpoint level.

  • Midpoint impact category, or problem-oriented approach, translates impacts into environmental themes such as climate change, acidification, human toxicity, etc.
  • Endpoint impact category, also known as the damage-oriented approach, translates environmental impacts into issues of concern such as human health, natural environment, and natural resources. Endpoint results have a higher level of uncertainty compared to midpoint results but are easier to understand by decision makers.

Interpretation

Interpretation according to ISO 14044 describes a number of needed verifications to be made in order to ensure the conclusions are adequately supported by the data and procedures. Results are reported and opportunities to reduce the impact of the product/service on the environment are systematically evaluated. The following checks are recommended:

  • Uncertainty
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Contribution analysis

Altanova’s approach to LCAs follows the below guidelines:

What is an LCA?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), provides guidelines for conducting an LCA within the series ISO 14040 and 14044. The main phases of an LCA are:

  • Goal & Scope
  • Inventory Analysis
  • Impact Assessment
  • Interpretation

Goal & Scope definition

The goal & scope definition is a guide that ensures the LCA is performed consistently. In this section the most important (often subjective) choices of the study are described in detail i.e. methodological choices, assumptions and limitations, particularly with regards to the following issues.

  • System boundaries
  • Multiple output processes/allocation
  • Avoided impacts

Inventory analysis of extractions and emissions

  • Erik Mets
    Erik Mets
    Director, Building Solutions
  • Julien Lafond
    Julien Lafond
    Managing Principal & President
Erik Mets
Director, Building Solutions

ErikErik has thorough experience in high-performance building design and renewable energy analysis as well as energy and other environmental audits for commercial and industrial facilities. He provides green building and LEED certification assistance and advisory for projects looking at building the best possible environment for their employees or occupant. He is also performing renewable energy feasibility studies and has conducted advanced researches into solar PV, solar thermal (hot water) energy, wind and hydroelectric power.

Erik holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics from Fu Foundation School of Engineering at Columbia University in New York City. Mr. Mets is accredited as a LEED Green Associate.

Contact Information
email: emets@altanova-energy.com

Direct: +1 (347) 410 9024

Julien Lafond
Managing Principal & President

SBC_EDA_20151020_stn2 - 1037 (2)Founder of Altanova, a New York based strategy and engineering consultancy providing innovative solutions bridging the gap between sustainability and technical implementation, Julien has over 14 years of experience advising global executives on strategies that create sustainable shared value.

Altanova has expertise on corporate sustainability and real estate, workplace, risk and resource optimization Prior, Julien worked for Altran Technologies, a global innovation consultancy, leading advanced simulations for industrial design and the development of expert systems supporting complex decision making process for major corporations such as Lenovo, Conagra, BiogenIdec Areva, Alstom and Airbus.

Julien has worked and lived in France, Switzerland and the United States.

Contact Information
email: jlafond@altanova-energy.com
Office: +1 (347) 410 9092 x707
Direct: (347) 410-9068