Consequential Life Cycle Assessment With Market-Driven Design

CSS Publication Number: 
CSS11-13
Abstract: 

This article describes the development of a consequential life cycle assessment (cLCA) with endogenous market-driven design (MDD). Incorporation of MDD within cLCA (cLCA-MDD) is beneficial because design decisions, influenced by market forces, are a major source of environmental emissions and resource consumption in many life cycle systems. cLCA-MDD captures the environmental impact of these design responses resulting from industrial and policy decisions. We begin by developing the concept of cLCA-MDD, then present a case study that demonstrates how design responses can be endogenously captured in a cLCA analysis. The case study is in two parts: First, we incorporate endogenous design responses into a cLCA of a mid-size vehicle and, second, we conduct a policy analysis using a cLCA-MDD approach. The case study illustrates that cLCA-MDD can capture multiple “ripple effects” resulting from an industrial decision (e.g., downsizing a vehicle's engine) or a policy decision (e.g., raising gasoline taxes) and that these effects significantly influence results. A key challenge of the approach is appropriately managing and communicating uncertainties associated with the choice of economic parameters or models. We discuss sources of uncertainty in cLCA-MDD and demonstrate a presentation scheme to facilitate communication of result sensitivity to uncertainties from input parameters, models, and model structure.

Keyword: 
design for environment (DfE)
industrial ecology
partial equilibrium analysis
policy analysis
sustainability assessment
systems modeling
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Journal of Industrial Ecology
Date Published: 
October 2011
Persistent URL: 
doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00367.x
Full Citation: 
Whitefoot, Kate S., Hilary G. Grimes-Casey, Carol E. Girata, W. Ross Morrow, James J. Winebrake, Gregory A. Keoleian and Steven J. Skerlos. (2011) Consequential Life Cycle Assessment With Market-Driven Design. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 15(5): 726–742.
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Publication Status: 
Published