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Applicability of life cycle assessment - lca - to management for eco-efficiency with specific reference to energy technologies


LCAs are increasingly considered by industry as a tool to get insights into product related environmental impacts. LCA "technique" is improving. However, there are outstanding methodological problems related to the evaluation and use of LCA in companies, which remain confronted with complex decision-making issues. Quite surprisingly, the actual and potential role of LCAs within the decision-making processes has received very little attention from research up to now. The main goal of this research project is to explore and develop the LCA methodology and to integrate it with other management tools in order to be used in companies to create and add value while minimizing resource (the key of the ''eco-efficiency'' concept). A case-study approach will be adopted, in which the LCA methodology will be developed in relation to innovative business plans for the delivery of energy services in urban areas. To implement this a set of innovative activities and methods are envisaged, including: i) the development of combined environmental/economic indicators assessing performances on the whole life-cycle per unit of service delivered; and ii) tbe evaluation of LCAs on highly innovative, environmentally benign energy technologies by means of advanced multi-criteria assessment methods. Methodological and quantitative results are anticipated related to: i) the enhanced potential and systematic applicability of LCA in an integrated management approach for the achievement of "eco-efficiency; ii) the possible use of LCA in industry as a tool for increasing global competitiveness by means of pollution prevention and energy services delivery; iii) recommendations for the development of LCA ad analysis of the possibilities to strengthen this approach by appropriate policy-making. The work closely fits with several EU policy guidelines indicated in the 5th Environmental Action Programme encouraging a proactive approach of business towards the environment, including the orientation towards causes, the concept of shared responsibility, and the broadening of the range of instruments and their combination. It also closely links with several adopted fourth framework projects, such as environment and climate, and finalised socio-economic research.

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