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LCA Development/ Column

Using the Environmental Footprint database in SimaPro
What the revised EN 15804 EPD standard means for you
In the European construction sector, the EN 15804 standard defines how companies should go about creating Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). On 21 June 2019, a substantial revision of this standard has been accepted after a formal vote by the European committee for standardization (CEN). Under the revised EN 15804 standard, EPDs are more aligned with the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). In this article, we will take you through what this revision means for you.
Latest news: Linking the UN SDGs to LCA
Last year, PRé Sustainability and 2.-0 LCA Consultants started a UNEP Life Cycle Initiative project to link the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life cycle assessment (LCA). Ever since the SDGs were introduced, companies have been wanting to contribute to achieving them. Unfortunately, the SDG targets and indicators were not developed with businesses in mind, so it is difficult to effectively measure and monitor the results of your effort. Together with 2.-0 LCA consultants, we have now developed two complementary approaches to help businesses measure their performance on the SDGs they care about.
Harness the power of the LCA community
Measuring sustainable impact has become increasingly important, which means the same is true for quantitative metrics. Without metrics to measure progress and impact, it is hard to manage sustainability. In many cases, sustainability targets are set top-down. That seems logical, as that is also how it’s done for financial targets, for instance. But that can’t be done without harnessing the power of the LCA community.
Highlights of developments in impact assessment in 2018
Developers of new impact assessment methodologies are constantly on a quest to improve the reliability of LCA results. As a busy LCA practitioner, you may not have the time to keep track of ongoing research. To make it easier for you to get a sense of what is happening in the field, PRé has decided to start doing a bi-annual overview of the most interesting developments. This article was written by Laura Golsteijn with contributions from Peter Fantke, Francesca Verones, Marisa Vieira, and Rosalie van Zelm.
The end of the PEF pilot phase and the start of a beautiful friendship
The European Commission’s Environmental Footprinting (EF) pilot phase has successfully ended. Of the 27 pilot projects, 14 have defined their product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCRs) or organisation environmental footprint sector rules (OEFSRs) for the European market and another 9 aim to do so by October. Now, the PEF method is available for use by anyone who is interested. Read on for a brief review and to see what’s next!
PRé is the platinum sponsor of the Life Cycle Management 2017 conference in Luxembourg
The 8th edition of the international Life Cycle Management conference, recognised as one of the most important conferences in the field of sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment, is going to be held this year in Luxembourg. LCM 2017 will take place from 3 to 6 september at the European Congress Center, hosting decision-makers from science, industry, NGOs and public bodies worldwide. PRé Sustainability is proud to be present as Platinum Sponsor.
Calculating the biodiversity footprint for the banking sector
For ASN Bank, PRé and CREM developed a methodology to calculate the biodiversity footprint of the bank's investments from simple spend data, bringing the complexity of biodiversity down to manageable level.
PEF masterclass: Sharing the environmental footprinting initiative with a broader audience
In 2013, the European Commission started the process for development and testing the product and organisation environmental footprinting rules, known as the PEF pilot phase. Since then, a large number of organisations have been actively involved in one of the 24 pilots. Many more, however, have not been involved but are paying attention. After all, it is an initiative started by the European Commission, and it could be game-changing at an industry level. To answer questions from the market, PRé organised a masterclass to share our experience and the value of environmental footprinting.
State of the debate and outlook for the PEF initiative
At PRé, we’ve been very involved in the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprinting (PEF) and the Organisational Environmental Footprinting (OEF) initiative, as covered in our series of articles. A big part of the PEF initiative is its pilot phase, planned to last for 3 years and initially scheduled to end soon. However, the pilot phase has recently been extended. In this news article, you will read why and what the status is.
Biodiversity, part 3: biodiversity, climate change and a final question
In our biodiversity series, we look at how to assess the impact of biodiversity changes. We looked at the basic assumptions and metrics in Part 1, and in Part 2 we looked at land use change and how that ties to biodiversity. In this article, we discuss the effect of climate change on biodiversity, and pose our final question.
The EN 15804 building product LCA standard: more challenges than benefits
GUEST POST | In general, the development of standards is a good thing, especially in such a complex environment as building and construction. But not all standards are an unmitigated benefit. This week, we feature a guest post by PhD student Sahar Mirzaie, about her research into the pitfalls and challenges in LCA for the building sector, including the EN 15804 standard.
Biodiversity, part 2: land use and biodiversity
In our biodiversity series, we address biodiversity and its impact assessment. In part 1, we discussed some definitions and units. In this article, we look at land use and how land use and land-use change affect biodiversity. How do we measure the damage, and who pays?
Quantifying your activities’ impact on biodiversity
Biodiversity refers to the variety of organisms present in an ecosystem, or the genetic variation within an area. This diversity is necessary for many ecosystems and human systems services, either directly (for example, agricultural activities) or indirectly (for example local temperature regulation or natural filtering and cleaning of water streams). For that reason, we need to make sure we protect our planet’s biodiversity and to do so we need to know the impacts of our actions on it.
Biodiversity, part 1: our impact on biodiversity
Biodiversity, agriculture and food are very current topics, within the field of sustainability and outside of it. They have a strong effect on GHG emissions, climate change and global warming, which means it is essential for policy makers to give these topics some thought. Unfortunately, these topics require a lot of nuanced thinking. In this series, we address biodiversity impact assessment. Part 1: how do you even define ‘nature’?
Energy & Transport Data for PEF/OEF Studies: The First Building Block
To ensure comparability within products groups, the PEF initiative is facilitating the use of life cycle inventory data. The Energy and Transport data constitutes the first data lot. This is a short update on the availability of this first building block towards consistent EF-compliant data.
Guidance For Modelling The Use Stage In The PEF Approach
For many product groups, the use stage can contribute much to the overall environmental impact. However, underlying modelling assumptions make it difficult to pinpoint exactly how much. Standardising the modelling approaches can greatly reduce the uncertainties in the calculated use-stage impact. The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) and Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs), developed by the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative, are assessment standards for all LCA practitioners. In this edition of the PEF series, we describe the PEF initiative’s guidance on the use stage.
Global Guidance for Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators and Methods - On Track
One of the downsides of LCA is that LCA results are difficult to interpret for those sustainability practitioners who aren’t specialised in LCA, but do rely on it on the battlefield. That’s why the LCA community has been striving so hard to find consensus and decide on standardisation, aiming to make LCA more efficient and easier to interpret. An important initiative is the Flagship 1b project of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, which aims to build global consensus and guidance. This article shows the exciting progress so far.
Developments in LCA in the Food Industry
Food and its consumption have a significant impact on our environment. It is estimated that a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is linked to agriculture and food production. The insights gathered via robust LCA studies can really help consumers, governments and industry to abate the environmental impacts and take more informed decisions. But consistency in data and methods is a must. In this piece, I’d like to share a short overview of the latest developments towards alignment in LCA food data and extend an invitation to meet the SimaPro team at the LCA Food conference.
Measuring The Environmental Footprint Of Organisations In The PEF Initiative
In 2013, the European Commission started testing the environmental footprint rules in what is known as the environmental footprint (PEF) pilot phase. However, this pilot phase contains more than just PEF. Although the focus is predominantly on the product level (24 out of 26 pilots), this 3-year initiative also aims to test the development of environmental footprint rules for organisations. In this article, I will briefly describe the organisational environmental footprint (OEF) in the European Commission’s initiative.
The Importance Of LCA Data Standards And Alignment
LCA has existed for several decades now. But still, there are no clear standards for technical issues, such as substance nomenclature and data quality in LCA, among other. Every now and then, initiatives arise with a new passion to tackle this problem. Right now, several powerful initiatives are doing just that. This article explores the status quo of LCA data standards at this moment, and shows you the latest developments in changing it.
Carbon Modelling In The PEF Initiative
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach aims to standardise and simplify LCA practice while maintaining its high quality. To enable all LCA practitioners to use the same approach, Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) are being developed. In this edition of the PEF series, we describe the state of the art of carbon modelling.
Towards Environmental Footprint Rules - PEF Governance Structure
In the testing of the Environmental Footprint Rules, there are many stakeholders involved. It is a well thought governance structure established for a transparent and collaborative framework. This piece aims at describing the governance structure of the EF rules pilot phase.
Why the Succes of Circular Economy is Owned by Chemicals
Chemical substances are everywhere around us and essential components of our human bodies. Yet, in order to protect biodiversity as well as human health, it is important that we use them in a safe manner. And that might have a circular form…
Data Requirements In The PEF Approach
For an LCA study to be compliant with the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, it needs to include the data quality requirements and a data quality analysis. A lot of LCA practitioners who provide these required elements don’t derive actual value from them, though. They often do it to tick all the boxes. But why is this? And how is the PEF initiative changing this?
PEF: a game changer in LCA
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach is a game-changing standard in LCA, with effects and ramifications that we are only just beginning to understand. That’s why PRé is devoting an article series to PEF, discussing it one aspect at a time. Today: how did PEF come about? And what are some of the lessons we have learned so far?
Why Food And Beverage LCAs Are Difficult To Do
Compared to several other sectors, such as the packaging, household and personal care, transport and building sectors, food and beverage LCA are only just catching up. What is it about the food and beverage sector that makes it so difficult to do good LCAs?
Bad Labor Footprint | Social Impacts in the Supply Chain
As many products are being exported to other countries, and as the products that we consume are often produced elsewhere, the question arises: “How does consumption relate to bad labor conditions around the globe?”. Laura Golsteijn, Technical Analyst for PRé, contributed to the development of the new study: “Bad Labor Footprint”. In this article, she explains how the study offers a new perspective on how to account for the social impacts of globalization.
How Understanding Your Products’ Social Footprints Helps Your Business Create Value
Many global standards and guidance documents exist that allow companies to investigate impacts at an organisational level. Although these initiatives have many benefits, they provide limited guidance for companies to assess the social impacts of products in a more comprehensive and harmonised way.
Quantifying Sustainability II – Natural Capital and Monetisation
Part I of this article series explained why companies might want to monetise sustainability, expressing impacts in monetary value to make them more tangible. This part shows the steps required to do monetisation, and discusses the drawbacks and advantages.
Characterisation: New Developments for Toxicity
This is the first in a series of articles where PRé's own consultants explain a step in the LCA process and the way their own expertise fits into that step. First up is Laura Golsteijn, who is not just an expert on characterisation in LCIA, but also earned a PhD based on her original characterisation research.
Emerging International Consensus On A Truly Global Network of LCA Databases
An intergovernmental process has been initiated to solve the problems around the lack of availability of life cycle data once and for all.
New, Sustainable Business Models and Their Impacts
Sustainability is not just important on the product level, but needs to be supported by a sustainable business model. Eric Mieras, Managing Director at PRé, dives into what that means.
On Developing Globally Relevant LCA Databases
As LCA becomes a more globally important and accepted way of measuring our environmental impacts and quantify sustainability in business, we will have to face our many problems.
How to Select Relevant Indicators for Decision Making in Sustainability
Though many companies are increasingly assessing the impacts of their products, the focus is often only on climate change. Yet, decisions made solely on the basis of a carbon footprint may result in the shifting of burdens.
A brief on the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint Guide
The European Commission released the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide in April, 2013, along with the Organizational Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide, under the premise of the “Single Market for Green Products Initiative.” The objective is to support a single metric for a single market, thus enhancing transparency and fair competition.
PCR Guidance Review for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
PRé was commissioned to review the internal PCR Guidance documents for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. This coalition spans about one-third of the apparel (clothing and shoes) sector. Their aim is to create a Higgs index for all apparel, reflecting the environmental impact
Deciding for Sustainability
Product information — or making the invisible, visible — and clear sustainability goals are at the core of making informed and better sustainability choices. This is the second in a serie of columns in which Simon Evitts gives his insight on the importance of Sustainability Metrics Integration
TRAINING
Oct 17-18 | Product Environmental Footprint
Feb 19-20 | SimaPro and LCA: essentials
Feb 19-21 | SimaPro and LCA: in-depth
Mar 19-20 | Product Environmental Footprint
Apr 22-23 | SimaPro and LCA: essentials
Apr 22-24 | SimaPro and LCA: in-depth
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