Mainstreaming life cycle thinking through a consistent approach to footprints

Brad Ridoutt, Stephan Pfister, Alessandro Manzardo, Jane Bare, A. Boulay, F. Cherubini, Peter Fantke, Rolf Frischknecht, Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Andrew Henderson, Olivier Jolliet, Annie Levasseur, Manuele Margni, Tom McKone, O. Michelsen, Llorenc Mila i Canals, Girija Page, R. Pant, Marco Raugei, S. SalaFrancesca Verones

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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    Over recent years, footprints have emerged as an important means of reporting environmental performance. Some individual footprints have become quite sophisticated in their calculation procedures. However, as an overallclass of environmental metrics they have been poorly defined, having a variety of conceptual foundations and an unclear relationship to LCA. The variety and sometimes contradictory approaches to quantification have also led to confusing and contradictory messages in the marketplace which have undermined their acceptance by industry and governments.In response, a task force operating under the auspices of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative project on environmental Life Cycle Impact Assessment has been working to develop generic guidance for developers of footprint metrics. The initial work involved forming a consensual position on the difference between footprints and existing LCA impact category indicators.
    In short, footprints are deemed to have a primary orientation toward society and nontechnical stakeholders and report only on selected topics of concern. On the other hand, LCA impact category indicators have a primary orientation toward technical stakeholders and report in relation to a larger framework designed for comprehensive evaluation of environmental performance and trade-offs. The task force has also developed a univers
    al footprint definition. In parallel to Area of Protection, we introduce Area of Concern. In the same way that LCA uses impact category indicators to assess impacts that follow a common cause-effect pathway toward Areas of rotection, ootprint metrics address Areas of Concern. The critical difference is that Areas of Concern are defined by the interests of stakeholders in society rather than the LCA community. In addition, Areas of Concern are stand-alone and not part of a framework intended for comprehensive environmental performance assessment. Accordingly, footprints are universally defined as metrics used to report life cycle assessment results addressing an Area of Concern.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAbstract book - EcoBalannce 2016
    Publication date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    Event12th Biennial International Conference on Ecobalance 2016 - Kyoto, Japan
    Duration: 3 Oct 20166 Oct 2016


    Conference12th Biennial International Conference on Ecobalance 2016


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