On the need for integrating LCA into decision making

Yan Dong, Simona Miraglia, Stefano Manzo, Stylianos Georgiadis, Hjalte Jomo Danielsen Sørup, Elena Boriani, Sebastian Thöns, Michael Zwicky Hauschild

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


The need for sustainable solutions has gained attention both in academia and industry research due to increasing demands of human beings, which are incompatible with limitations in resources availability. Several methods, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), were developed in the past decades to assess the environmental profile of products and services. However, when decision makers have several alternatives at hand to solve a problem, environmental performance is not the only criterion for choosing the best alternative. Other criteria such as risks and economical costs and benefits that are associated with the alternatives will also influence the final choice. Sometimes the most environmentally sustainable alternative may not be the safest or cheapest one. How to make a balanced decision considering environmental performance together with other criteria is not straight forward.

Decision analysis is broadly used to help decision makers identify the best solution among alternatives. The decision is based on expected utility generation, which incorporates consequences (or impacts) associated with each alternative. Depending on the research field and goal of the study, the included consequences can be e.g. environmental impacts, property damages from natural hazards and/or human health impacts. We examined the current decision analysis practice as it is applied in different research fields. The review shows that generally environmental impacts are considered less often than the other consequences. Meanwhile, LCA has been applied in many research fields to assess a wide range of environmental impacts associated with products or services. There is a huge potential for integrating LCA into other decisions analysis tools to include assessments of the environmental profile of alternatives. This will provide the possibility of systematical inclusion of environmental considerations in the decision making process, thus facilitating a more holistic decision. However, due to different scopes and purposes of LCA and other decision analysis tools, the integration is not straightforward. The lack of consistency in e.g. system boundaries and handling of uncertainty needs to be carefully managed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSustain-ATV Conference 2016: Creating Technology for a Sustainable Society - Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Duration: 30 Nov 201630 Nov 2016


ConferenceSustain-ATV Conference 2016
LocationTechnical University of Denmark
CityKgs. Lyngby
Internet address

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Sustain Abstract A-3


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