Life Cycle Assessments
Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) is a compilation
and evaluation of the inputs and outputs and
the potential environmental impacts of a
product system throughout its life cycle.
The entire life cycle of a product (or building)
is examined, the processes and constituents
identified, and their environmental effects
assessed -- both upstream, from the point of
manufacture or raw materials extraction, and downstream, including transportation, use, maintenance, and end of life. This approach is sometimes called "cradle to grave". Going even further, "cradle to cradle" emphasizes recycling and reuse at the end of life rather than disposal.
Life-cycle approaches to materials assessment began in the 1960s with carbon accounting models. Since then, LCA standards and practices have been developed and refined. In Europe and a few other parts of the world, manufacturers, regulators, specifiers and consumers in many fields have been using life-cycle information to improve their product selections and product environmental profiles. Until relatively recently, however, the data and tools that support LCA were lacking in the United States. Now a growing number of manufacturers are ready to document and publicly disclose the environmental profiles of their products, and programs that assist this effort and help users understand the results are available.
Reach out to The Spinnaker Group to learn why companies, municipalities, owners and AEC industry professionals reach out to our firm to lead their LCA consulting teams. Drop us a quick query here.