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Perspectives in Life Cycle Impact Assessment a Structured Approach to Combine Models of the Technosphere, Ecosphere and Valuesphere

Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool used to compare the environmental impacts along the life cycle of products. It thus supports the design of products which cause less harm to the environment. ISO distinguishes between four phases within LCA: the goal and scope definition, the inventory analysis, the impact assessment (LCIA), and the interpretation. The impact assessment phase as well as some aspects of the interpretation phase are the subject of this book. LCA is a young tool which is still under development. In the course of its international standardisation ,two main problems have been identified: (1) LCA is full of subjectivity and does not properly separate objective from subjective elements, and (2) the impact assessment records phantoms rather than actual damages. This book suggests a new framework for LCA designed to master these two problems. The new structure represents a radical departure from past attempts in LCA methodology development to distinguish clearly between so-called objective and subjective elements and to assign them to distinct process phases. It builds instead on the acceptance of the view that LCA is the art of modelling and combineing the valuesphere, the ecosphere, and the technosphere. This basic structure is then particularised with the use and combination of elements developed independently in many different research fields in the natural, social, and medical sciences. The book's focus is on problems rather than disciplinary research questions that highlights the interface between natural and social sciences. The careful review and combination of these existing elements in the new structure results in a partly operationalised framework organised around a number of hypotheses. These have a high level of explanatory power for past developments and new trends and seem to offer a fruitful base for further validation. The book offers concrete and pragmatic operationalisations of many of the hypotheses demonstrating that a consistent realisation of the framework is feasible in principle even though central elements remain in the status of hypotheses.

Where to find

Perspectives in Life Cycle Impact Assessment a Structured Approach to Combine Models of the Technosphere, Ecosphere and Valuesphere

Filed under

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

Name

Patrick Hofstetter

Institution

ETH Zurich

Advisor

Prof. Roland W. Scholz, Prof. Dr. P. Suter

Expected graduation

1998

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