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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Friday 25, March 2022

A complete tool for the evaluation of environmental performance.


The Life Cycle Analysis (UNE-EN ISO 14040:2006/A1:2021) “It is a technique to determine the potential environmental aspects and impacts associated with a product or service.”

When an organization produces or generates a service or product, the operational processes or activities follow one another, forming what is called the “product/service system”. During the sequencing of processes, there will be inputs to the system (energy, raw materials,…) and outputs (emissions into the atmosphere, waste,…).

The life cycle analysis is based on the compilation of the relevant inputs and outputs of the system (inventory), evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with the inputs and outputs and interpreting the results, always taking into account the objectives of the study.

Of course, there are many ways to do a life cycle analysis. ISO (International Organization for Standardization), in this case, establishes common standards in order to try to standardize them.

The evaluation of the elements emitted directly and indirectly to the environment and the use of resources in production and distribution allows knowing the direct and indirect impacts produced throughout the entire life cycle of the product or activity.

Stages of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Life Cycle Assessments are laborious and complex processes that require the participation of a specialized technical team.

Given its complexity, it is necessary to approach the work in different stages:

  1. Definition of objectives and scope. It is necessary to know the objectives of the organization before addressing it (scope), that is, to establish the context and identify the limits and environmental effects to be reviewed.
  2. Life Cycle Inventory or data collection, identification and quantification of all inputs (consumption of resources and materials) and all outputs (emissions to air, soil, water and waste generation) that can potentially cause an impact during the analysis of life cycle.
  3. Impact assessment in order to determine the importance of potential impacts and their categorization.
  4. Interpretation of results in order to have conclusions and recommendations that contribute to decision-making and allow the comparison of different products or services and thus select the one with the best environmental performance.

Important aspects to take into account when developing an LCA

  • The LCA must be carried out in accordance with the UNE-EN ISO 14040:2006/A1:2021, UNE-EN ISO 14044:2006, UNE-EN ISO 14044:2006/A1:2018 and UNE-EN ISO 14044:2006/A2 standards. :2021.
  • If materials or components are manufactured or services are provided whose use or waste management is unknown, they can be left out of the LCA, always indicating the limitations that exist and justifying the measures applied.

Life Cycle Assessment: A comprehensive tool for evaluating environmental performance

The Life Cycle Analysis is essential if you want to have reliable data on an activity or a product:

  • Water footprint: Impact of a product or service on the use of water. Environmental impact related to water resources of any nature.
  • Carbon Footprint: Impact of a product or service on climate change (the data obtained focus solely on greenhouse gas emissions).
  • Environmental Footprint: Multi-criteria analysis of the environmental impact of an activity, service or product. It reflects the consequences of human and/or business activity on the environment from the perspective of the entire life cycle.

Unlike all the previous footprints, considered as single-criteria evaluation methods, the Environmental Footprint encompasses much more. It not only measures the contribution of the product, service or organization to climate change, the use of water or the use of resources, but also, in accordance with the evaluation criteria of the European Commission, it evaluates the environmental performance of the product/service up to a total of 16 impact categories.

The corporate or product environmental footprint may have the purpose of issuing a type III ecolabel (UNE-EN ISO 14025:2010), reporting a selected set of environmental impacts according to the criteria of a verification program.

Advantages of life cycle analysis

  • It allows the organization to analyze strong points and critical points for improvement and reduce the environmental footprint of the product/service.
  • It helps define accessible and realistic improvement objectives for each organization and detect improvement opportunities within production activities.
  • Inform interested parties about a product by publishing results (type III ecolabels). Increase external recognition through reports, ecolabels, DAP, etc.
  • Compliance with the requirements of environmental management standards, such as UNE-EN ISO 14001:2015.
  • Ecodesign: Ecodesign is based on taking environmental issues into account when designing and developing new products, or updating existing products. In this way, we reduce the environmental footprint of new products.

We provide solutions

At ; our knowledge regarding the standardization of construction products added to our experience in environmental management projects. They are intended to provide the best possible solution to our clients, the most viable, providing support in all stages of the evaluation project until its completion:

  • Initial evaluation and identification of the most appropriate standard and applicability in the company.
  • Evaluation of environmental impacts through the Life Cycle Analysis.
  • Drafting of results report in accordance with the provisions of the standard.
  • If necessary, apply improvements through an impact reduction plan and implementation plan.
  • Manage and participate in certification processes (Selection of Notified Body).
  • Review and support during the certification process.

You can consult articles related to ACV in the following link:

Enviromental Product Declaration (EDP)

ISO 14025 Enviromental declarations

The information contained herein is collected from various sources. Although we try to make it correct, accurate and current, we cannot guarantee that it will continue to be so at the time it is accessed. For this reason, any initiative that can be taken using such information as a reference must be preceded by an exhaustive verification of its reality and accuracy, as well as the relevant professional advice from our consulting and development area.