ideas on content for topical paper
LCSA Paper Authors,
I suppose we never really worked through a process for creating these papers in Long Beach, so I am going to list some of my thoughts in the form of questions that I think are relevant and see who responds. We can build an outline based on this conversation thread. I will try to build that outline (or somebody else can volunteer), but I think we need to get our ideas in line by mid-month or thereabouts.
A little background on the genesis of these thoughts and what has been the history of trying to apply life cycle approaches to assessing sustainability might be in order.
- The roots of LCA go back more than 40 years but it is only in the past 7 or 8 that anyone has suggested that LCA might evolve from its environmental foundations to support sustainability assessment. I think the first mention of such an extension was in an editorial by Walter Kloppfer in the International LCA Journal about 2004 or so. He suggested the formulation LCA + LCC + SLCA = LCSA, where LCA refers to traditional environmental LCA, LCC is life cycle costing, SLCA is social LCA, and LCSA is life cycle sustainability assessment. Although much has happened since this publication almost every one refers to this as the benchmark idea. Should we attepmt to do a solid literature review on the development of LCSA as part of our paper?
- LCA and LCSA are analytical or decision support methods for product and service systems by definition. Although conventional, attributional LCA has been complemented by consequential LCA, which I believe is more applicable to sustainability type decisions, the primary issue is whether the framework (goal and scope, system boundary, functional unit, etc.) is appropriate for sustainability assessment and to what extent.
- As we have been discussing and debating now for several years, sustainability is a "wicked problem" not amenable to deterministic or even probabilistic analysis. Can LCSA (even consequential LCSA if we can discover or create such a thing) still provide insights on alternative decision choices given its other characteristics?
- The decision analytic component (phase) of LCA has been the Interpretation part, mostly done after data collections and inventory/impact assessment. Based on the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative LCSA guidance publication from 2011, this phase is either undeveloped or poorly developed for LCSA depending on whom you ask. Could the development of a stronger decision support component really help strengthen the case for LCSA as a leading contender in the Science of Sustainability area?
Bruce Vigon, SETAC Science Manager
Last edited Wednesday, January 9, 2013