A Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life-cycle of a commercial product, process, or service.
Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) have emerged as a valuable tool for industry and policymakers to assess the cradle-to-grave environmental impact of a product or process.
Each aspect of a product’s life cycle can be analysed to assess its sustainability, from initial extraction of raw materials from the environment, to production of the item itself, its usage and repurposing, through to eventual disposal. Businesses are increasingly using LCAs to make improvements to product development and to demonstrate sustainability, which enables consumers to make purchasing decisions based on a product’s environmental impact.
This module will provide students with an overview of life cycle thinking, its meaning and uses. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of Environmental LCA methods, engaging with the latest research to explore the challenges, issues and solutions around each stage of the LCA process, from defining functional units and boundaries to estimating impacts and the application of normalisation and weighting to data. Through interactive exercises, including carrying out a simplified carbon footprint study, students will gain the skills needed to critically evaluate and interpret the findings of LCAs.