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  • Final Report Summary - LCA TO GO (Boosting Life Cycle Assessment Use in European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Serving Needs of Innovative Key Sectors with Smart Methods and Tools)

Final Report Summary - LCA TO GO (Boosting Life Cycle Assessment Use in European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Serving Needs of Innovative Key Sectors with Smart Methods and Tools)

Executive Summary:
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is considered as the most advanced tool for improving the environmental performance of products. There are however barriers that reduce its implementation and use, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as data intensity, costs, and expertise required to run full-scale LCA studies. "LCA to go - Boosting Life Cycle Assessment Use in European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Serving Needs of Innovative Key Sectors with Smart Methods and Tools" developed sectoral methods and tools for bio-based plastics, industrial machinery, electronics, renewable energy, sensors and smart textiles. These sectors have been chosen, as the manufacturers show a high interest in making clear the environmental benefits of their products to customers ("Green industries") and in prioritizing so they can reduce their environmental impacts.
To address exactly the needs of SMEs a survey was performed in 2011 among companies on the European market. The purpose of the needs assessment was to verify the status-quo regarding the application of environmental assessments and to understand their wishes for an environmental assessment tool: Many SMEs are already communicating environmental information, usually related to material data. Energy is also a topic of interest to the customers of these SMEs. Requests for LCA data, recyclability assessments, and total cost-of-ownership are rare, but they do occur. In general SMEs have limited knowledge about LCA and environmental assessments. Only very few SMEs have experience in using environmental assessment tools. In future SMEs would use an environmental assessment tool if there is demand by customers or pressure from legislation, but surprisingly companies also mentioned a severe current interest in lifetime, reuse and service aspects.
Building on the survey findings customized approaches have been developed and implemented in a free available webtool application with features customized for the target sectors. The source code is provided open source on GitHub. The background research on Life Cycle Assessments resulted in 105 verified high quality LCA datasets, which are now available publicly from the project website.
A broad mentoring programme for SMEs yielded 99 published case studies of external SMEs on top of the case studies already compiled earlier by project partners internally. Another 18 SMEs went through an Initial bilateral training, but either refused to get their case study published or it turned out that the approach of LCA to go does not fully fit their business interest or product portfolio. The time for SMEs to compile a first environmental assessment of their products has been reduced to 1-2 hours through the streamlined assessment approaches and as the webtools pick up the engineering language spoken in the SMEs.

Project Context and Objectives:
Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) are considered the most advanced tool for improving the environmental performance of products, but are also considered complicated and costly, with technical know-how a pre-requisite for their execution. With 99% of Europe’s businesses classified as micro, small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) much work is needed to ensure the wider uptake of this effective environmental assessment. From 2011- 2014, 18 partners from across academia and industry in Europe have collaborated in the delivery of a €5.5m FP7 funded project called LCA to go, to boost the use of LCA among Europe’s SMEs.
SMEs often have limited resources concerning time, staff, money and expertise, detrimental to the requirements of an LCA study. Despite previous efforts by the scientific community to simplify LCA methodology, it had not been enough to encourage SMEs to implement life cycle thinking systematically.
All products have life cycles with interlinked stages throughout the supply chain.
In order to make a product, materials are extracted and processed, the product is distributed, then used by the customer before ending its life in the waste stream.
Energy and raw materials are inputted throughout each stage of the lifecycle with emissions being released into the air, land and water.

The number of processes analysed in an LCA is where its complexity lies, as the supply chain of a complex product can easily involve hundreds of suppliers and many more individual process steps. Commercial LCA software tools largely cover the most relevant processes, but to go for a professional software solution requires substantial investment in software acquisition but also consultancy or training. Choosing system boundaries, areas to data mine and how best to apply results can prove overwhelming for a novice. This combined with extensive data mining requirements, lack of awareness, expertise and resources, and the high costs involved to carry out an LCA were among the main barriers identified to SME uptake5. To tackle these, the following objectives were defined:
1. Boost use of LCA in SMEs
2. Develop simplified operative methods and tools
3. Development of sector-specific ecodesign and LCA approaches
4. Development of an online, open source toolbox
LCA to go would quantify the environmental interactions sector by sector and relate them back to a company’s decisions, enabling SMEs to identify environmental and commercial performance improvements.
LCA to go supports SMEs to perform life cycle based assessments through sector specific training and the development of a sector specific online tool. The tool is for free, easy and quick to use. The sectors chosen were bio-based plastics, photovoltaics (PV), machine tools, computer-like devices, printed circuit boards (PCBs), sensors and smart textiles. In addition, Taiwanese project partners developed a complementary tool for the semiconductors sector.
Eight sector specific tools and methodologies were developed by combining the results of existing LCAs, LCA datasets and the experience of LCA case studies.
An academic expert and SME for each sector worked together with software developers to oversee the tool and ensure it met scientific and business requirements, with the SME taking on the role of quality assurance. Tailored parameterized models for each sector were defined with Key Environmental Performance Indicators (KEPIs) to guide the users in their assessment. Research focused on the definition of appropriate KEPIs for the target sectors, which quantify the various environmental impacts in a limited number of indicators, such as the carbon footprint in kg CO2-equivalents or the water consumption in cubic-meters or in eco-costs in Euros, which is a specific approach applied to the smart textiles sectors to address external environmental costs throughout the product life cycle.
Trade offs took place regarding the complexity of data mining for the SMEs that would result in unnecessary complications to usability and increase the need for SME decision-making. Depending on the sector, different elements of the supply chain were targeted e.g. manufacturers of bio-based plastics were targeted for their contribution to the highest environmental impact, and designers of PV systems towards the end of the chain as this is where the European market is most prolific. Translating engineering terms into environmental performance indicators has been a key strategy for developing a user-friendly webtool, which does not ask for modelling complex supply chains, but allows to enter the technical terms an engineer is aware of in his daily work anyway.
The approach was tested among the project SMEs and showed its potential by resulting in a number of dedicated ecodesigned products, such as a redesigned plastic bag made of bio-based material and an optimized smart floor.
It was decided that Product Carbon Footprints (PCF) were a good entry point for SMEs in LCA, so an SME-compatible PCF methodology became the focus for the tool in most of the sectors.
The final stage of the project encompassed the training of 117 SMEs in lifecycle thinking and how to use the LCA to go tool. These training yielded 99 case studies on successful implementation of a life cycle approach.

Project Results:
Overall, the simplified approaches to Life Cycle Assessments and training delivered by the partners in life cycle thinking and how to use the LCA to go tool removed barriers by increasing awareness of what LCA is and what it means for individual sectors. The majority of the SMEs found the developed online tools quick and easy to use, at least reducing if not removing time, resources and data mining barriers. A barrier lifted partly was the lack of incentives in performing LCA assessments, with the opportunity to gain competitor advantage. This was especially true where it was communicated to the SME that their results would be downloadable into a PDF document and could be used in their marketing activities8.
The main highlights of LCA to go are 117 trained SMEs across six sectors by seven partners in the LCA to go consortium, more than 600 users in total applied the LCA to go tool, which is now publicly available online , 6 partner SMEs within the consortium explored more in detail the potential of life cycle approaches and implemented significant ecodesign improvements, and the University College Dublin teaches in an accredited course simplified Life Cycle Assessments based on the methodologies developed by LCA to go.

3.1 Software
Building on survey findings of the LCA to go project among small and medium sized enterprises back in 2011 customized approaches and assessment methodologies have been developed and implemented in a free available webtool application with features customized for the 7 target sectors: 1) electronics, 2) printed circuit boards, 3) photovoltaics, 4) sensors, 5) bio-based plastics, 6) smart textiles and 7) machine tools. The purpose of the tool is to support SMEs in conducting environmental assessments of their products based on LCA. Contrary to conventional LCA tools, LCA to go does not require an extensive modelling of process flows with inputs and outputs, but relies on predefined data models, which cover already relevant cradle-to-gate processes generically.

The tool is available on the “LCA to go” project webpage ( of and its source code is also provided open source on GitHub ( The tool is available in 6 languages: 1) Dutch, 2) English, 3) French, 4) German, 5) Polish and 6) Spanish.

The next screenshot shows the “Initial / Login” page of the webtool. In order to use the tool, the user has to register in (link: “Don’t have credentials? Register in 30 seconds”), indicating the user profile, organization, sector of interest, preferred language, etc. Then, the system, automatically, will send an email to confirm the registration.

Figure 1: Registration screenshot of the webtool

Once the user confirms the registration, he will be redirected to main page “My products”, where a complete list of products assessed by the user appears. The first time, this list is empty. In this section the user can add and define a new product to be assessed or duplicate (and modify) an existing one. For assessing a new product, some information is asked about the product and sector an then, the user will be redirected to the “Assessment module” of the selected sector.

The “Assessment module” looks slightly different for each sector, but the overarching structure is similar:

INTRODUCTION: explanation about the proposed environmental assessment / methodology based on LCA, and how to enter the needed data.

DATA ENTRY: pages to enter the needed data, based on product life cycle phases.

DATA QUALITY: section where it is assessed the quality of the data entered.

RESULTS: numeric results expressed in tables (Note: see screenshot), graphics and comparisons.

Some sectors have some particularities: some include an economical assessment module (e.g. bio-based or sensor sector) and others (e.g. photovoltaic and industrial machines) a module that gives recommendations to improve the product.

Figure 2: Exemplary screenshot of a result table in the webtool

3.2 Electronics
In recent years Life Cycle Assessments, typically in the simplified version of Product Carbon Footprints, became increasingly popular among large brandname players in the electronics industry, such as Apple, Dell or Fujitsu. Compiling the relevant environmental data throughout the supply chain or even plotting the Bill-of-Materials on predefined datasets in a commercial LCA software turns out to be an endeavor, which can easily take several months, even for large companies with a certain market power to force their supply chain to cooperate in such an LCA study. This approach for small and medium sized enterprises is not a feasible way forward, as the struggle with the complexity and the unwillingness of their supply chain to provide sound input. Therefore LCA to go looked at ways to simplify the approach for small electronics companies

3.2.1 Sectoral approach
Research unveiled, that it is fully sufficient to focus on 10-15 main parts or sub-assemblies only to assess the cradle-to-gate production of a PC or a laptop comprehensively. LCA to go explored verified ways to turn the carbon footprint data for these 10-15 key parts into parameterized models with technical parameters as input. In this way, product developers are enabled to translate their technical specification into an environmental assessment without interfering with any suppliers or the need to study environmental issues comprehensively. When developing such kind of simplified tool for product developers and assemblers it became evident, that such an approach can be similarly useful for companies in the IT repair, refurbishment and recycling business to quantify their contribution to a Circular Economy. With these aspects in mind, the software tool for the electronics sector meets to following specification:
• The LCA to go tool for electronics equipment provides a rough environmental assessment of the total product life cycle and in comparison to a pre-defined “standard” product. The benchmark with a product that is not designed for a similarly long lifetime and thus sustainable consumption will unveil how environmentally efficient the product is.
• A rough environmental assessment of the major subassemblies will help to identify immediately those sub-assemblies with the highest environmental impact at production. Parameterized data models are provided for LCD displays, printed circuit boards (mainboard, graphics cards and others), processors, memory, storage either as hard disk drive or solid state drive, external power supply and bulk materials for housing and frames.
• The user makes individual settings regarding computer configuration, likely use patterns, and electricity price. Recycling is reflected in the tool with a scenario, applying typical recycling quotas and related carbon credits.
• Based on these parameter settings the tool calculates:
o Product Carbon Footprint
o Final energy consumption
o Resource efficiency (quantified as hypothetical savings of selected metals)
• Based on this analysis the optimal configuration can be chosen.
• Once a repair or upgrade is due or intended, cost and energy implications can be recalculated versus buying a new unit.
• Based on the analysis an SME can decide, for which sub-assemblies longevity, reparability and reusability is most important. This analysis enables a manufacturer to judge, for which sub-assemblies lifetime extension is most useful in terms of resource savings and carbon footprint reduction.
• The calculation results will be usable for publication as a simplified, but customized environmental declaration. Life cycle costs from the user perspective, i.e. total cost of ownership, can be calculated, but requires cost entries from the manufacturer.
• To limit the complexity of the tool, only well-defined market segments are covered namely “computer-like” devices.

3.2.2 Exemplary data model: Hard Disk Drive
Explained on the example of Hard Disk Drives, the parameterized carbon footprint model is developed as follows:
Based on technological insights, company environmental reports, LCA studies for individual HDDs and communication with manufacturers, the dominating factors for greenhouse gas emissions throughout HDD production where established, resulting in the insight that the carbon footprint of HDD production are 1,25 kg CO2-eq. for assembly plus 0,5 kg CO2-eq. for each platter (rotating storage media within an HDD). The carbon footprint in assembly is largely dominated by the capacity of the HDDs as the 100% test time is dominating when it comes to energy consumption and depends on capacity. As a proxy the electricity consumption of assembly and test varies from 2.1 to 2.7 kWh per HDD, i.e. roughly between 1 and 1.5 kg CO2-eq.. Taking the lower value of 1 kg for a theoretic 0 GB capacity (i.e. assembly only) and 1.5 kg CO2-eq. for the upper range of 3000 GB (as state-of-the art in 2011) leads to a production related carbon footprint as follows:
• Upstream processes (materials, including PCBs): 3 kg CO2-eq. (2,5 inch HDD) and 10 kg CO2-eq. (3.5 inch HDD)
• Production and assembly: 3.5 kg CO2-eq. (1 kg components manufacturing, 1.5 kg direct emissions, 1 kg assembly)
• Test: 2.5 kg CO2-eq. x capacity/3TB
With these figures a parameterized carbon footprint model was established, where only HDD size and capacity are required to calculate the generic cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of any HDD model.
Similarly, data models have been established for e.g. CPUs, memory, external power supplies.

3.2.3 Business cases and mentoring programme
The approach has been tested and verified by project partner MicroPro Computers from Dublin, an outstanding pioneer in green design of IT products and with the aspiration to design products for longevity and by using reuse components and materials in their design. MicroPro assessed their current prototype design of a D4R iameco laptop against standard laptop products and could identify in this way remaining design weaknesses, but also quantified the already achieved benefits of their design and business approaches.

Figure 3: MicroPro’ all-in-one iameco PC and LCA to go exhibiting at Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin 2014

The trained companies in the electronics sector covered a broad range from entrepreneurial, passionate companies, such as Circular Devices Oy and Fairphone B.V., who intend to change the smartphone business either through a completely new phone design or by making a change to labour conditions in the supply chain. Circular Devices got mentoring from LCA to go to refine their modular phone concept, Fairphone wanted to go beyond a screening LCA and got support in developing a full-scale LCA study. Packaging designer Paxpring B.V. approached the consortium in search for a simplified solution to assess various packaging designs. Joost Van Andel from Paxpring enthusiastically reported back, how the LCA results contributed to a really successful concept presentation: “Our customer was really impressed!”. Several IT refurbishers joint the mentoring programme, ranging from the small social project PC Lagun in the Basque country to market leader RDC from England. Inrego AB, a large refurbisher in the Scandinavian market seized the opportunity to explore the positive carbon saving effects of smartphone refurbishment. In the UK it became apparent, that customers of the refurbishers and recyclers are increasingly interested to back their Circular Economy claims with robust data on carbon footprint savings. Bilateral meetings and on-site visits were core activities of the mentoring programme; in the Basque country GAIA managed to bring together several companies for a joint training session, where products such as outdoor lighting and buoy manufacturing were addressed.

Actually it turned out, that for those companies, which fit to the target profile of “computer-like devices” of the sectoral tool an assessment can be performed within 1-2 hours, thus achieving the objective of being a do-it-yourself tool for rapid assessments.
Two main target groups have been identified, for which this tool and approach is particularly useful: Product designers or developers having major influence on the product configuration and refurbishers and other companies involved in extending lifetime of computer products and components.

To read the LCA to go: Electronics case studies please visit,electronic.en.html

Recommended reading:
- Ospina, Jose Luis; Maher, Paul; Schischke, Karsten:
Life Cycle Assessment as a practical tool in the eco-design and promotion of eco-innovative electronics - the case of the IAMECO computers, Going Green - CARE INNOVATION 2014, Proceedings, November 17-20, 2014, Vienna, Austria,
- Schischke, Karsten; Nissen, Nils; Lang, Klaus-Dieter: Translating product specifications into environmental evidence - Carbon Footprint Models explained on the example of a netbook, a consumer laptop and an ultrabook, Going Green - CARE INNOVATION 2014, Proceedings, November 17-20, 2014, Vienna, Austria,
3.3 Passive Components
Some companies in the electronics industry might want to go for more details than only a limited number of high-impact assemblies and parts, and might want to cover in the assessment individual components of electronics assemblies. Companies from the electronics components industry, more specifically the passive components industry, were not prepared to deliver such kind of granular data for the simple reason, that the multitude of several 100,000s types of passive components hardly can be assessed effectively. The passive components industry organized under the German ZVEI however seized the opportunity of LCA to go to partner with Fraunhofer on developing a methodology, how carbon footprint and energy data can be gathered and assessed in a harmonized way. Following the idea of defining umbrella specifications (“UmbrellaSpecs”), which are in in place for material declarations already for more than a decade, a similar approach of defining families of passive components was followed. System boundaries for the forthcoming assessments were defined across industry; most important generic background data to assess input materials and energy in a comparable way for different kinds of components have been defined. The resulting, industry approved methodology paper can be considered a first step for being ready to provide sound, verified environmental data to downstream customers.

Recommended reading:
- Fraunhofer IZM (editor): Methodology Guidance – Energy Profiles and Carbon Footprint Data for Passive Components and Connectors, Version 1.2, September 2014, Berlin, Germany
3.4 Printed Circuit Boards
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are a very important part of each product containing electronics assemblies, such as computers, cellular phones, TV sets, but they are also parts of industrial machines, cars, planes etc. Synergies exists between the PCB sector and various industrial sectors covered by LCA to go (e.g. electronics, smart textiles, sensors or photovoltaic). Therefore PCBs must be a part of each Life Cycle Assessments of a product containing electronics assemblies.
Following the evaluation of the needs assessment for PCBs and electronic products manufacturing SMEs, project partners analysed PCB’s life cycle and collected data for different types of PCBs from production processes in PCBs factories during two years. The PCB manufacturing processes dominate the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of PCBs and therefore this stage should be optimised first of all to minimize negative impacts on the environment by PCB. The research found that KEPIs of PCBs are related with PCBs design options which influence production processes. PCB processing easily can comprise a few dozen technological operations, most of which are based on chemical treatment. Moreover more than 120 different chemicals are used during the production process as well as a lot of water and electricity is consumed. Furthermore, there are different kinds of wastes generated: solid waste, sewage and the emission of gases to the atmosphere. PCBs contain also rare and precious metals, which can be recovered at end of life. The life cycle approach for PCBs therefore takes this recovery potential into account. Based on studies carried out and analysis the suitable methodology for simplifying LCA was developed as well as the algorithms for the “LCA to go” tool for the PCB sector. Considering the results of the investigation, two different versions of the PCB tool’s modules underlying methodology were developed:
• A basic PCB module - calculating generic KEPIs for a given PCB layout like: water and energy consumption, the amount of solid waste generated during its production, carbon footprint as kg CO2-eq. and recyclables using databases and mathematical algorithms based on average data collected from PCBs factories.
• A sophisticated PCB module – which gives the user, potentially a PCB manufacturer, additionally the opportunity to enter also specific information related with a given PCB factory before calculating KEPIs.
The developed PCB modules cover the PCB’s life cycle, except the use phase. The use phase aspects are covered by the “LCA to go” tool for the electronics sector. The target group of the basic PCB module are electronics equipment designers or producers. The tool gives them the ability to identify and work on the PCB’s influence on the environmental impact of the product by checking different PCB design options for their suitability. The sophisticated PCB module is mainly for PCB manufacturers as it gives the possibility to do identify environmental and economic improvement potentials of PCBs production processes as well as enabling to communicate the precise LCA data related with the place of PCB manufacture. The results from both PCBs modules could be communicated to business c.lients, when a PCB is delivered as a future component of a product.

Table 1: Exemplary results for PCB production with different technologies and at different locations

The elaborated methodology and PCB algorithms and data bases have been tested and verified by project partners Eldos (PCB producer) and at ITR’s PCB production division. The case studies showed advantages of the elaborated PCB’s tool for users. It became clear that the tool user by choosing a more eco-friendly version of a PCB design can protect the environment as well as save money. A design related reduction of water consumption of up to 56% and of energy consumption during production processes of PCBs of up to 34% where identified for an exemplary sensor application, demonstrating the huge potential for savings by better PCB design. The highest reduction of the Carbon Footprint – up to 65% - was obtained for a PCB design change for a smart textiles application.

The possibilities of practical application of the developed tool for the PCB sector were presented during two seminars in 2013 and 2014 connected with the International Trade Fair of Environmental Protection - Poleko in Poland, in scientific articles, and at two international conferences. The tool was implemented in 19 companies from electronics and PCB sectors.
Based on the summaries of the case studies, the PCB “LCA to go” tool was used for the following:
• comparing transport distances and countries of production to figure out environmental benefits of local production,
• improving energy efficiency of product design,
• compare product designs,
• to underpin targets of the environmental policy of the company, use assessments for an environmental management system in accordance with ISO 14001,
• assessment of partner factories,
• customer communication,
• initiate further investigations for cost savings potentials.
For production companies indicators such as the carbon footprint and water consumption where considered useful KEPIs. Mainly for a recycler the aspect of material contents of various PCB designs was of particular interest. Both main target groups, the PCB manufacturers and PCB designers, made good use of the LCA to go tool and recognized some benefits in using it. Among the mentored companies there was a repeated mentioning, that assessment results could be used for communication with clients - although there seems to be no "pull" for such kind of data yet. Manufacturing companies found it useful to look at material and energy consumption holistically to identify internally some hot spots with cost relevance, and to get an impression, what their individual contribution in the overall product life cycle is. Definitely the mentoring and discussion of first assessment results had an educational dimension. Although the tool does not allow for a direct supplier selection, assessments were of interest, which compare transport distances and countries of production. This is partly motivated by competition in PCB production from Far East.

To read the LCA to go: PCB case studies please visit,electronic.en.html

Recommended reading:
• Janusz Sitek, Marek Koscielski, Anna Girulska, Carbon Footprint Analysis of PCBs Using “LCA to go” e-Tool as the Instrument for Environmental Performance Improvement of Electronics Products at Design Stage, Proceedings of Going Green – CARE INNOVATION 2014, November 17-20, 2014,
• Janusz Sitek, Marek Kościelski, Efektywność środowiskowa produktów, a możliwości oceny cyklu życia płytek obwodów drukowanych z użyciem internetowego narzędzia „LCA to GO”, Elektronika - Konstrukcje, Technologie, Zastosowania, 2014, Vol. 55, nr 7, s.13-15 10.15199/ELE-2014-047

3.5 Semiconductors
A survey for the needs and demands of implementing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the semiconductor industry, which included members of both upstream and downstream applications in Taiwan, was conducted with the intention to analyse the sectoral needs for a simplified approach. According to this survey the high prices of commercial LCA software is considered to be the main barrier for the semiconductor industry to implement carbon footprinting of products. Cost reduction may be enabled by cloud services. Given the highly complex manufacturing processes in the semiconductor industry the survey indicated a need for a parametric-based tool and background research to identify the main technology drivers for greenhouse gas emissions from semiconductor processing.
Based on these findings the research aimed to simplify the carbon footprint calculation for semiconductor products by establishing such a parameterized data model.

The three steps in developing a simplified carbon footprinting tool for the semiconductor industry were as follows:

Step 1: Identify key parameters
All main physical parameters for the design and the manufacturing processes of integrated circuits (IC) were analysed, such as technology node, number of mask layers and body size of the package. The selection of the parameters was based on literature review and industry experience for semiconductor manufacturing. Process and correlation analyses were applied to identify key parameters. Process analysis investigated the relationship between altering parameters and energy and material consumption to assess the effect of the processes on the carbon footprint of a given chip design. Correlation analysis assessed the strength of the relationship between two variables, namely, parameters and the carbon footprint. Correlation analysis is based on a correlation coefficient, Pearson’s r.

Step 2: Develop the parametric tool
In this step, the relationship between carbon emissions and selected parameters were examined using regression analysis. In statistics, regression analysis helps elucidate the changes in the dependent variable’s typical value when any of the independent variables is varied; the other independent variables are fixed. In the present study, regression analysis was applied to establish regression models using the key parameter for predicting the carbon footprint of an IC.

Step 3: Calibrate the proposed parametric tool
In order to maintain consistency in data on geographical coverage, the proposed tool considered the carbon emission factor of electricity and overall wafer effectiveness (OWE) in different enterprises.

For the front-end processes of IC (wafer fabrication), this study analysed the carbon footprint of the fabrication of a total of 7,114 products through six parameters, namely, function type, generation, technology node, mask layer, metal layer, and poly layer. The generations of products include 6-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch wafers. The function types of the wafers were classified into six categories based on their process technologies and general purpose; they are CMOS Image Sensor (CIS), embedded high voltage (eHV), embedded non-volatile memory (eNVM), logic/mixed signal (Logic/MS), power management IC (PMIC), and “other” function types. And it found that the technology node, mask layer, and metal layer were not only essential parameters in the design stage of a chip but also important factors that affect the greenhouse gas emissions of wafer fabrication. Therefore, these three parameters were considered as the key parameters. Although the poly layer was also an essential parameter in the wafer design stage, the quantity of poly layers on wafer turned out to be of minor relevancy for the carbon footprint.
For the back-end processes of IC (IC package technologies), a total of 28 packaging types with product characteristics, including IC package technologies, body size of package, and usage of bond wire, were analysed. The samples for lead frame and ball grid array (BGA) packages are 16 and 12, respectively. Half of the samples had gold wires as its packaging material, whereas others had copper wire. Both, the body size of a package and usage of wire material are important in predicting the carbon footprint. The correlation between body size of the package and carbon footprint was highly positive, as determined via regression analysis. Moreover, the correlation was significant when different wires were used. The usage of gold wire resulted in significantly higher CO2 emissions than when copper was used.

Next step, this study applied regression analysis to establish regression models using the three key parameters for predicting the carbon footprint of wafer fabrication. Each analytical data contained the function type, quantity of key parameters, and carbon footprint per mm2 of wafer. These regression models can be applied to the six different function types of wafer: CIS, eHV, eNVM, Logic/MS, PMIC, and “other” function types. The results indicated that these regression models can effectively predict the carbon footprint of wafer fabrication as the R2 of all regression models was greater than 0.5. Furthermore, the results show that the three key parameters, namely, mask layer, metal layer, and technology node, affected the carbon footprint because these parameters were significant at p values lower than 0.001. The number of mask layers could be the most important parameter for predicting the carbon footprint because of its higher standardized coefficients (β) in each regression model. Similarly the regression models for IC package technologies were also developed in this study. The R2 of the regression models for BGA with gold and copper wires are 0.97 and 0.77, respectively. The model can effectively predict the carbon footprint of BGA package technologies.

To obtain the best prediction results, the proposed tool considered the carbon emission factor of electricity and OWE in different enterprises. For the carbon emission factor of electricity, using data from the Taiwan Power Company, the usage of electricity in Taiwan was also inventoried through LCA. In this study, the average carbon emission of electricity accounted for 60% of the product carbon footprint. However, the carbon emission factors of electricity can be adjusted using the proposed tool. For the OWE, the useful wafer area, the product of the number of good die and die size, is determined using yield rate and gross die number. Moreover, the carbon footprint per individual die can be obtained by taking OWE into consideration. Finally, The simplified product carbon footprint (PCF) equation for ICs in the semiconductor industry is expressed as:

The PFC of IC =
PFCWafer fabrication *(Generation/ NO. of good die)*(Calibration factors of carbon emission factor of electricity) + PFCIC Package technologies *(Calibration factors of carbon emission factor of electricity)
PFCWafer fabrication (wafers with A function) = a1+ a2* no. of Mask Layers + a3*no. of Metal Layers + a4*Technology Node
PFCIC Package technologies (IC packaging technology B with wire material C) = b1 + b2* Body Size of packaging
A, B, C: function type; IC package technologies; usage of wire.
ai: Constants that depend on the selection of A.
bi: Constants that depend on the selection of B and C.

The carbon footprint per IC can now be predicted at the early IC design stage. Thus, enterprises at the design stage should have a timely disclosure of the likely carbon footprint from the manufacturing stage to set the criteria for low-carbon decision-making. The methodology reduces the time, cost, and information requirements of the product for traditional LCA, and provides criteria for low-carbon design by adjusting the quantity of key parameters. Moreover, the calibration factors (i.e., carbon emission factor of electricity and OWE) that we considered can be adjusted in the proposed parametric carbon footprinting tool to strengthen the application. In the future, this study can be improved by continually integrating the information on carbon footprint from upstream to downstream companies in the semiconductor industry. Furthermore, more environmental footprints should be considered in the future, such as water footprint and other environmental footprints.

3.6 Photovoltaics
Photovoltaics is a fast growing technology which plays an important role in the future of the planet’s energy production and is perceived as a green technology. However, from the early days of PV technology the myth survived, that the production of photovoltaic cells might consume much more energy than the module generates over its lifetime.

3.6.1 Sectoral approach
To be able to measure the environmental impacts of this technology, a simplified LCA based methodology for the PV sector was developed. The LCA to go: PV tool was developed so SMEs could assess the environmental impacts of their chosen PV projects. By entering the technical specification of their products, SMEs were able to choose components of their PV system with the lowest environmental impacts. LCA to go: PV also defines the part of the system that has the highest environmental impact, giving them valuable information for them to redesign their systems.
The tool gives recommendations on how to optimize the system, to get the maximum output with the least environmental impact. These recommendations help the SMEs develop a more environmental friendly system which gives the SME more credibility and a better image.
As there are already a number of engineering tools used in the PV industry, LCA to go was not meant to replace these, but complementing them with environmental life cycle data. Actually, performance data calculated with any of these commercial tools are an important input to the LCA to go tool to calculate the life cycle impacts and benefits, including both, production phase and energy generation over use in comparison to potentially replaced grid electricity.

3.6.2 Business case
Trama TecnoAmbiental (TTA) is a Barcelona-based, international photovoltaic company championing the production of clean energy. Specialising in the electrification of rural areas, they bring green energy production to places where it is needed. The LCA to go approach was used to inform the decision making of a PV project in Chad, financed by UNIDO and the Chadian Ministry of Petroleum & Energy, to bring electricity to five rural communities. The challenge was to minimise the project’s carbon footprint whilst sticking to a very tight budget and use technology that could be repaired or retrofitted by local people.
TTA were able to compare the lifecycle of different module technologies through environmental and performance assessments by inputting simple data into LCA to go.
Polycrystalline silicon modules were selected for their overall minimal impact on the environment, performing well in lifetime electricity production and their lower embedded carbon footprint.

Table 2: Comparison of PV systems under study for the implementation project in Chad

Maria Anzizu, project engineer and consultant at TTA said: “Although simple to use, LCA to go has supported us in making the right engineering decisions and improved our application of life cycle thinking. TTA are now able to communicate the environmental impacts of our systems to clients, like the UN, who are increasingly prioritising carbon footprint.”

3.6.3 Mentoring and dissemination activities
Four awareness-raising seminars were organized for SME’s working in the photovoltaics sector and took place in Cardiff (Wales), Barcelona (Spain), Bristol (England) and Leuven (Belgium). Where appropriate, these seminars doubled up as training sessions for willing participants, or else down the line training, often in the style of a one to one master-class, was later arranged. Presentations on LCA to go: PV were made by project partners Ecodesign Centre and TTA whose audiences were mainly SMEs working in the PV sector, but also included policy makers (local, national and EU), academics, students, journalists and trade associations. Special relationships were developed with PV Cycle, WEST (Welsh Energy Sector Training), Bristol Solar City, local and national governments across the EU, PV trade associations in Portugal, Spain and UK, KTNs (Knowledge Transfer Networks) to advertise the events and available training spaces. These partners often supported the advertisement of events on their websites, through their newsletters, mail drops and their Twitter handle, using #LCAtogo. Significantly, the most successful recruitment method was through direct marketing. This was done initially through first hand contacts, then obtaining contacts from partnerships mentioned above, and finally a Google search of prospective businesses and inputting data into a newly developed database. A diary invite advertising training was sent to either the CEO, operations manager, designer or engineer addressed personalized directly to them and they were cold-called to check their compatibility to the tool (e.g. systems assessed had to be under 500kw so solar farms were discounted). This was a lengthy process but ensured the healthy recruitment of SMEs for LCA to go’s PV sector. Although installers of PV systems were targeted, those who benefitted from training also included suppliers of converters, a science centre behind the largest solar array in Bristol and a wholesaler of PV systems. Though some PV companies contacted were suspicious of the importance of an LCA assessment for their business, many saw the benefits of communicating the carbon savings of their system to their customers.
Most SMEs trained under LCA to go wanted to participate in training to further competitor advantage, especially when tendering for 1.) public procurement contracts (this was especially applicable to the Northern European SMEs whose procurement sometimes requests environmental measurements) and 2.) large businesses who were responsible for reporting their carbon footprint as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. Almost all SMEs involved in the training thought the tool was easy to use and that the training they received not only improved their knowledge of LCA, but would help them in their application of life cycle thinking in their day to day work. Some SMEs even reported that their domestic clients had previously enquired about the environmental credentials of their systems, evidencing further reason for them to rate LCA to go as a good communication tool. They were particularly impressed their results were presented graphically and downloadable into a PDF document. The measurements they found particularly useful was the comparison chart of their chosen system against other available energies (e.g. coal or wind) and the energy payback time, with Portuguese and Spanish companies in particular impressed and often surprised with an energy payback time of 1-2 years. Most SMEs who benefitted from free training found the tool useful, easy to use and said they would use it on the request of the customer, as LCA to go is not a certified standard.

To read the LCA to go: PV case studies visit,energy.en.html

Recommended reading:
- Arranz, Pol; Anzizu, Maria; Vallvé, Xavier; Schischke, Karsten; Schneider, Jan; Den Boer, Emilia: PV Systems with Lower Environmental Impact - New Strategies and Analysis Tool, 28th European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, Sept 30 - Oct 4 , 2013, Paris, France, Best Visual Presentation Award
- Arranz, Pol; Anzizu, Maria; Vallvé, Xavier; Schischke, Karsten; Helmy, Mohamed; Alonso, Juan Carlos; Rodrigo, Julio: LCA to go for PV systems: Analysis tool for optimized PV design and green marketing, Going Green - CARE INNOVATION 2014, Proceedings, November 17-20, 2014, Vienna, Austria,

3.7 Sensors
Sensors and sensor systems are multi-platform technologies that service a wide market range. Typically sensors are used in markets as diverse as transport, manufacturing and process control, defense, offshore renewables, energy and smart grids, medicine and healthcare, agriculture and the built environment. Sensors perform multiple functions such as sensing, measuring, processing, communicating and converting data into information for the purpose of supporting decision-making and control of systems
LCA to go focused on sensors in manufacturing and process control. This type of sensor application requires the monitoring of process variables. The impacts of manufacturing sensors can be relatively small in proportion to the impacts they can have in improving efficiencies in various systems.

3.7.1 Sectoral approach
System and service providers in the sensors industry are enabled to assess the environmental and cost benefits of better sensor-based monitoring of industrial processes. The results of the assessment shall allow sensor companies to communicate with their clients, i.e. those operating industrial installations, the likely benefits of applying a smart sensor network (i.e. a monitoring system), and to calculate scenarios, which factor-in likely improvements related to better monitoring and control. Such an assessment will provide a sound basis to judge the usefulness of employing a sensor solution.
The goal of the assessment approach for sensors is to lead to an improved eco-performance of a continuous process where the potential assets are much more important than impacts of the sensor solution itself.
In particular the following effects of employing a sensor system to monitor the change in operating condition of the process are reflected in the methodology:
• Reduced downtimes
• Efficiency monitoring
• Improved process performance and efficiency due to higher machining speed
• Improved product quality
• Reduced yield losses
• Optimised (i.e. reduced) auxiliaries dosing

3.7.2 Business case
The dominant environmental benefits realized through better line monitoring in a steel rolling mill are assumed to be reduced downtimes, and thus higher production and energy efficiency of the line, and the reduction of yield losses. The forecast of downtime scenarios requires some assumptions about the likely impacts of any such interruption.
A first estimate based on the calculation model developed in LCA to go indicates a potential for greenhouse gas savings in the range of several thousand tons of CO2 emissions per year, mainly attributed to an expected reduction in yield loss: In this case the methodological approach considers the embedded energy and greenhouse gas emissions of the steel, which is partly lost when yield losses have to be returned to upstream steel smelting processes. Yield loss reduction effect can be in the range of 3,000 t CO2-eq. reduction annually in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, which equals the carbon footprint of 230 households in Germany. Absolute energy consumption of a production line (and thus indirect greenhouse gas emissions) is higher with the sensor system in place due to an increase in productive time. From a productivity perspective, i.e. per mass of product output, electricity related greenhouse gas emissions of the production line per kg steel output go down. Such findings and calculations significantly enhance the communication between sensor system provider and his client, and help to unveil the likely benefits of a sensor solution. The screening results demonstrate also that the production of the sensor nodes as such in this scenario has a marginal impact compared to the likely savings, and is easily outweighed not only by the anticipated yield loss reduction, but also regarding energy efficiency increase due to reduced downtimes.
The main benefit of using now the LCA to go tool in the sensors sector according to Michel Saint-Mard, Managing Director TAIPRO, is the improved communication with clients about sensor deployment projects. The mutual understanding of the application case of a sensor system is clearly enhanced.
Recommended reading:
- Saint-Mard, Michel; Stoukatch, Serguei; Schischke, Karsten; Laurent, Philippe; Heusdens, Bruno; Xhonneux, Tobias; Maillard, Nicolas; Axisa, Fabrice; Destiné, Jacques; Benecke, Stephan: Innovative smart sensors to enhance eco-efficiency of a continuous (steel) production line, SENSOR 2013, May 14-16, 2013, Nuremberg, Germany,
3.8 Bio-based plastics
In the bio-based plastics, a sectoral methodology was developed based on the opinions of bio-based plastics producers and users. Even though the main focus was the carbon footprint, several other impacts should be considered due to the biogenic nature of these types of bio-based plastics. Therefore, the methodology included up to nine different impact categories capable to quantify the potential environmental impacts of products made with bio-based plastics: (1) Global Warming in kg CO2-eq; (2) Water Footprint in m3; (3) Land use in m2*year; (4) Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) - non-renewable in MJ; (5) Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) – renewable in MJ; (6) Eutrophication in kg PO4-eq; (7) Acidification kg SO2-eq; (8) Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential in kg C2H4 eq; (9) Respiratory Inorganics in PM 2.5 eq.

This sectoral methodology was successfully implemented in the LCA to go webtool for bio-based plastics. The webtool has a good flexibility and include these main features:
- Simple & clear: only easily accessible data input from the companies is requested (mass, distance and power consumption). Data entry is guided.
- Accurate and quick: reach a result with 90% of accuracy with only 10% of the time required when a conventional LCA tool is used.
- Web-based: there is no need of complex set-up process. Only access to the internet and registration at LCA to website is required.
- No need to be an LCA expert: the analysis can be performed in just 6 steps with a minimum data input.
- High degree of flexibility:
o Products can be saved, edited, copied and duplicated.
o For converting processes users can select between default and customized data.
o Transport supply chain is fully customizable.
o Users can either use pre-defined end-of-life scenarios or create a customized one, as function of his/her preferences. End-of-life can be also disabled. (Note: Only Global Warming results can be obtained in this life cycle step).
o Users are able to select between the most relevant impact assessment categories for bio-based plastics.
- Very easy presentation of results: absolute values, %, PDF reports, export to Excel file, pair-wise comparisons, possibility to combine with gate-to-gate cost assessment.

Figure 4: LCA to go bio-based plastics webtool screenshoots

The webtool was supported also with specific bio-based plastics training material available at the LCA to go website.
The performance of the methodology and the webtool was successfully tested first by the implementation of a detailed ecodesign case study with the tool between Valsay and ITENE. The ecodesign case study was applied to the PLA/PBS carrier bags in medium and large size. Results from the firs LCA screening drove us to focus on the raw material use and the manufacturing of the bags as well. Based on these action points, several ecodesign actions were analysed and discussed together with Valsay and ITENE in order to look for those with the highest feasibility in economic, technic, business and environmental approaches. Finally, four ecodesign actions were considered including changes in the printing pattern and font size of the bags, as well as changes in the size of the bags to improve the ratio between size bag and capacity combined with improvements in the cut of the bag to increase the strength. Such actions were implemented by producing two new prototypes of carrier bags. These actions resulted in ink savings from 20% up to 68% as function of the printing pattern use (dot or lines). Moreover, 3.2% and 3.9% weight reduction per bag for the medium and small size bags was achieved, respectively, while keeping carrier capacity and improving strength with the new die-cut designs.

Figure 5: Ecodesign of Valsay’s bio-based plastic carrier bags

Based on the outcomes from the case study with Valsay, several changes were made and the public beta version webtool was launched by early November 2013. The tool was presented in two seminars in Spain and Belgium. Moreover, a presentation of the tool was made through a series of three webinars in summer 2014. The tool was also implemented in 18 plastic sector SME’s (including converters, plastic resin producers and end-users), which were trained (face-to-face and on-line) and mentored in its use through specific case studies on bio-based plastics products. A total of 19 case studies were performed with the tool including a wide range of products like: trays, panel boxes, plastic tubes for cosmetics, films, bottles, coffee pods, automotive parts and organic waste collection bags. The valuable feedback obtained during the case studies with the SME’s resulted in some changes in the beta tool and the launch of the final version of the tool (including translation into five additional languages). SME’s participating in the training/mentoring programme pointed out the easy-to-use interface of the tool and the flexibility to model logistic chains and to decide the scope of the analysis (cradle-to-gate vs. cradle-to-grave). Case study summaries are available at the LCA to go website.
Additionally, 8 ILCD datasets were compiled for the following bio-based plastics and precursors to produce such plastics, which were included in the LCA to go webtool database: (1) Bio-based HDPE from sugarcane, (2) Bio-based LDPE from sugarcane (3) Bio-ethanol from sugarcane (as precursor to produce bio-based PE), (4) PHB from bacteria, (5) Partially bio-based PBS, (6) Bio-based succinic acid (as precursor to produce partially bio-based PBS), (7) PLA from corn, (8) Potato-based starch plastic. Such ILCD datasets are downloadable from the LCA to go website.
3.9 Smart Textiles
The Smart Textiles sector is an emerging, dynamic, high-tech sector, dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, and by start-ups launching innovative products. The dynamic and innovative nature of this sector makes the development of simplified LCA tools a necessity. One of the challenges, for instance, is the uncertainty regarding future product life cycles, i.e. how and where these innovative products will be used (for how long, how often, under which conditions), and what recycling and disposal channels the products will enter at the end of their service lives. A detailed LCA would mean waiting for more robust data to become available, resulting in “paralysis by analysis”.

In order to enable Smart Textiles companies to make an environmental impact assessment in an easy, intuitive way, a two-step approach was introduced in the LCA to go tool. Step one allows for a quick check of typical smart textile applications without requiring the user to acquire high quality input data by undertaking extensive measurements or supplier inquiry. The LCA to go tool contains ready-made environmental profiles of several smart textile products and gives a general overview of the typical environmental aspects. The user can customise these profiles to some extent, and try out different scenarios for the product.

Step two is to be used at a later stage of the product design process where more detailed information (e.g. product properties, materials used, production processes applied, suppliers determined, target price) become available and Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data can be generated with better data quality. The output indicator is Eco-costs and the Ecocost/Value Ratio (EVR). Eco-costs refer to a product’s virtual costs of preventing the life cycle wide environmental burden of that product (Vogtlander et al, 2001; Vogtlander, et al. 2009). The tool allows for comparison of design alternatives (scenarios) of the same product as a basis for informed decision-making in eco-design. The tool is supported by the Idemat database of eco-costs that can be amended with LCI data on smart textiles materials and subassemblies.

This two-step methodology was developed through a detailed eco-design case study by TU Delft in collaboration with Futureshape. The LCA on the product “SensFloor” showed that the energy use of the SensFloor has the highest impact on the total life cycle of the product. Based on the outcome of the LCA, Futureshape has been investigating various options, for instance: reducing the sensing floor’s spatial resolution; automatically deactivating the radio receiver of the micro-electronic modules 10 minutes after power-up, or giving the floor a “sleep mode” in times of inactivity.

Figure 6: SensFloor (black) and top flooring (blue)

The smart textiles webtool was presented during two seminars in the Netherlands and Belgium, and implemented in 10 smart textile SMEs (for instance, Novanex, Stratex, Material Sense, By-wire, Smartex, and Innovatec), who were trained and mentored face-to-face and online, using products from their companies as example case studies.
The feedback obtained through these case studies resulted in some changes in the beta tool and the launch of the final version of the tool. The SME’s participating in the training/ and mentoring programme were highly interested in this simple tool – in particular because it gave them insight in the most pressing environmental impact “hotspots”, allowing them to focus their redesign efforts on these hotspots. They also pointed out the easy-to-use interface of the tool. Case study summaries are available at the LCA to go website at,textile.en.html .

At a scientific level, this work resulted in the completion of the PhD thesis of Dr. Andreas Köhler, entitled “Anticipatory EcoDesign Strategies for Smart Textiles”, obtained in 2013 at the Delft University of Technology. doi:10.4233/uuid:850be7ae-1f9e-4b3f-b49f-242488bab216

3.10 Machine tools
LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) is a very important concept that is becoming more apparent in industry at all levels. SME’s are starting to have client companies ask for the carbon footprint or energy demand of their equipment. There is an ISO standard for LCA however it is prohibitive for many small SME’s to embark on a full ISO14040 within their organisation. The goal within LCA to go was to allow SMEs to access a free on-line tool for their sector, the tool will provide information and terminology, and guide the user through a lite LCA of their product or process.
3.10.1 Sectoral approach
Research shows that for machine tool producers, the main environmental and cost implications of their products occur beyond the own factory walls – mainly during the ‘Use’ phase of the machines they produce [Pamminger 2013]. Customers of these companies are aware of this fact, making it an important topic for these producers. As described by the case study companies in LCA to go, engaging customers regarding the impact of the machine tools over the entire life cycle is seen as proactive, forward-thinking and customer needs oriented. To provide SMEs with the capability to fulfil these customer requirements, a survey was carried out from May to September 2011 in the context of the ‘LCA to go’ project. The survey showed that environmental issues are to a certain extent considered in SMEs but that they have very little practical experience of LCA. Initially a needs needs assessment was carried out with a large number of SME’s. The needs assessment highlighted that many SME’s are aware of environmental issues related to their products, however, any work that they do is typically on ad-hoc basis and it is not formalised within their organisations. The assumption on where the majority of the energy demand occurs, varied greatly amongst the participants.
The requirements of the SMEs identified through this ‘needs assessment’ in the survey, resulted in a ‘wish list’ for the software tool [2]. The majority of SMEs stated that the software tool should focus on energy aspects and also support them in fulfilling their legal requirements. These companies primarily want to communicate the energy consumption and self-declared environmental claims. Other requirements from the wish list were that the tool had to …
• be easy-to-use
• comply with the legal situation
• help improve product quality
• assess innovative products, without complete life cycle data sets
• be used as a kind of information platform to enhance the knowledge of the SMEs about LCA
• be able to import and/or export data

These requirements were integrated in the methodology and the design of the tool wherever possible.
The basic software flow of the webtool for machine tools follows a two-step approach. It includes a rough assessment, followed by a detailed assessment where the user can focus on the most relevant life cycle phases. See Figure . The benefit of this approach is that, the first step; where the Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) over the entire life cycle is estimated; allows the user to identify the most relevant environmental hotspots very quickly, with minimal data requirements and the second step, allows the user to focus on these environmental hotspots to obtain a detailed environmental assessment. This detailed assessment paves the way to identifying targeted improvements and allows for a meaningful comparison of different machine tools. The methodology, basic software flow and application of the tool was kept very simple and transparent, while allowing the user to extract meaningful results for environmental communication.

Figure 7: The basic software flow of the webtool for machine tools

The entire software tool was geared towards technical and development staff, with very limited time and without prior knowledge of environmental assessments or Life Cycle Thinking (LCT). To better serve the needs of the intended audience in SMEs, the software tool was translated and made available in six languages: English, Polish, Dutch, French, German and Spanish.
It contains ready-made datasets for the most widely used materials and common machine parts, extracted from ecoinvent 2.2 (May 2010).
The tool is comprised of three major parts, Data entry (including Data Quality Indicators), Results (including a comparison function) and Improvements. Similar to the other sector tools, these major parts are accessible from a home screen containing a list of all the modelled products and complemented by introductory texts.
3.10.2 Business case
To accompany the launch of the sector specific tool, companies were invited to participate in a free training and demonstration of the software tool. The incentives for them to take part in this training were to obtain a free assessment of their products and discuss the results and identify improvements together with external experts from the Vienna University of Technology.

The software tool was applied together with around 20 case study companies from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the UK to model their products. The investigated machines included machine tools such as grinding and milling machines, transfer centres, electro discharge machines and complete processing machines as well as other industrial machines such as robots, surface treatment machines, compressors, conveyors and storage centres. This wide range of industrial machines and machine tools demonstrates the broad scope of the software tool.
The participating SMEs gathered the required data and worked together with the LCA to go team to apply the tool, generate and analyze the results and identify possible improvement measures. For each company, this entire process, from collecting data to analyzing results and collecting feedback took on average 6 working hours over a period of a few weeks, including a company visit in half of the cases and was documented in the form of individual case studies available at,tooling.en.html

In the interviews that followed the trainings, companies identified these four major advantages through the use of the tool.
• Standardised characterization and documentation
• Easy communication
• New development perspective
• Own tool development

The tool can be used by engineers to discover environmental hot spots in the machine life cycle and potential opportunities, allowing them to derive improvement strategies and to enhance the products and the SMEs competitiveness through better environmental performance.
The software tool provides a methodology to depict achieved improvements in comparisons to previous machines. The results of this environmental assessment can be used for internal and external communication with B2B customers.

Recommended reading:

- Krautzer F, Pamminger R, Diver C, Wimmer W, (2015) Assessing the environmental performance of machine tools – Case studies applying the ‘LCA to go’ webtool, 2015, 22nd CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), Sidney
- Pamminger R, Krautzer F, Wimmer W, Schischke K, (2013) ‘LCA to go’ – Environmental Assessment of Machine Tools according to Requirements of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) – Development of the Methodological Concept, 2013, 20th CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), Singapore

Potential Impact:
4.1 Impact
4.1.1 Business impacts
LCA to go had a direct impact on more than 100 SMEs, project partners and externals participating in the mentoring programme actively. Many more benefitted from attending project presentations at numerous LCA to go and third party events and by registering for the webtool without joining the mentoring programme. The approach of publishing a large number of case studies on the project website is expected to be a convincing way of communicating the benefits of life cycle thinking to other SMEs.

Anecdotal evidence shows clear improvements in business-to-business communication just by the fact that companies start talking about life cycle impacts across company borders:
• Paxpring made the experience, that providing life cycle results along with presenting packaging design concepts is highly appreciated by clients, who themselves are forced by the market to engage in Life Cycle Assessments.
• Taipro got a tool to discuss facts and figures of sensor deployment projects for condition monitoring of larger process lines with the final user and the company intended to provide maintenance services.
• E-Recycler was enthusiastic to show some carbon footprint savings to one of their OEM partners as they refurbish business laptops from this brand.
Peter Dicken of Solar Sense, who joined the training for photovoltaics companies, stated: “Using LCA to go has confirmed that Solar Sense UK are doing the right thing, for our customers and the environment. There is potential that it could be used as a tool to improve customer relations. The training has definitely improved my knowledge of life cycle thinking and my future application of it.” Providing environmental data to customers is considered important also in the passive components industry, in the semiconductor industry, by printed circuit board manufacturers and by producers of bio-based plastics products. Particularly the latter rely on environmental claims to increase market shares over conventional plastics.
The effect of saving time in compiling life cycle analyses has the two-fold effect of reducing internal costs for such studies and at the same time lowering the barrier for companies to invest in life cycle thinking. Eva Raush at Anger Machining, who participated in the mentoring programme of the machine tools sector, stated:” LCA to go was surprisingly easy to use, considering the volume of information it contains. Therefore LCA to go can be used by many employees without the need for long training and an analysis can be done rather quickly”.

4.1.2 Environmental impacts
Those SMEs, which applied life cycle approaches, achieved significant environmental improvements. Some examples to illustrate the potential are as follows:
• An improved design of a sensor printed circuit board based on ELDOS’ production processes resulted in a water consumption reduction of up to 56%, and energy savings in production processes of PCBs of up to 34%.
• The new design of Future-Shape’s smart floor SensFloor by changing from polyester as a base material to cork reduced the eco-cost from 1.04 Euro per square meter to 0.06 Euro per square meter.
• The redesign of PLA/PBS plastic carrier bags from Valsay achieved an average reduction of 3,5% across several environmental impact categories.
• Trama TecnoAmbiental compared various alternatives for a photovoltaics project in Chad and finally selected a technology with the lowest carbon footprint, which is 18% lower per generated kilowatt-hour than the PV technology with the highest carbon footprint.
Michael Bennett, Policy Officer at DG Enterprise and Industry, European
Commission, commented on the impact of the project: “LCA to go has enabled SMEs to take advantage of a responsive design-friendly tool to improve both their competitiveness and their environmental footprint. LCA to go has proved that such streamlined approaches are feasible for SMEs, and should be further rolled out across the EU, to help Europe's smaller firms to grow their businesses in a "smart and clean" way that is sustainable in every sense of the word.”

4.1.3 Policy impacts
The LCA to go methodologies influence policy making significantly: For the machine tools sector the webtool integrates the ecodesign checklist of ISO 14955-1 “Machine tools - Environmental evaluation of machine tools - Part 1: Design methodology for energy-efficient machine tools”. As such, the LCA to go tool might see broad implementation in the machine tools sector once the currently discussed ecodesign policy for machine tools is in place, might it be a Commission Regulation or a Voluntary Agreement as proposed by industry.
LCA to go is also extensively referenced as a Best Environmental Management Practice for the electronics sector . The current draft of ISO 14001 “Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use” will require a strengthened life cycle perspective and related ecodesign approach as part of environmental management systems. For the target sectors LCA to go provides exactly the tools to re-adjust the management systems of SMEs in this direction.
An LCA to go policy workshop which took place at the end of the project and included policy makers at European Commission, national and local government level, and SMEs who benefitted from the LCA to go project (amongst others) found there was opportunity for more work to be done from both a top down and bottom up approach in the wider uptake and demand of LCA. By implementing LCA considerations into policy, prioritising LCA in public procurement, standardizing simplified LCA and undertaking more work to encourage consumer level awareness of LCA and therefore a demand for it, will pave the way for innovation. Tools like LCA to go will therefore become a handy essential in lowering the carbon footprint of the sector and giving all members of the supply chain the power to measure and advertise their carbon savings, creating higher demand components with a lower environmental impact.

4.2 Dissemination
The dissemination activities were vast and targets in this area easily reached. From articles in trade publications to scientific journals, presentations at industry, governmental and academic events to developed relationships with sector ambassadors, the LCA to go project has had a potential reach from >360,000. From this, there has been over 500 signatories for the tool, and still counting. This leads well to the accreditation package that has been developed in conjunction with University College Dublin, which in turn has fed into the identification of markets for exploitation.

Highlighting exemplarily some dissemination activities in the bio-based plastics sector ITENE presented scientific findings as speaker at the International Conference on Life Cycle Management LCM 2013 held in Gothenburg (Sweden) in August 2013 ( and at the 8th European Bioplastics Conference, held in Berlin (Germany) in December 2013. ITENE has also disseminated the bio-based plastics LCA to go tool in the 9th European Bioplastics Conference held in December 2014.

Figure 8: Participation of the bio-based plastics sectoral leader (ITENE) in dissemination actions

The website has proved a useful hub of information and go to platform for those who have shown an interest in LCA to go. Moving forward, the website and general online communications poses an opportunity for the uptake of tracking systems to understand visitor behaviour and interests, and identify opportunities for exploitation across new markets. In turn this will pay dividends if increased traffic is achieved to the well-defined e-learning material.

The LCA to go project has done exceptionally well to publish 99 business case studies from across the sectors. It turned out to be very challenging to convince SMEs of the benefits of a life cycle approach and to agree to the training package on offer. For some sectors this was exacerbated with ambiguity over who the target customer should be and therefore the final outcome for the SME, in other words, a clear answer to ‘what’s in it for me?’ The initial proposed multi-visit training package, was complemented by a one off masterclass that lasted for ½ a day. This new format proved more popular and ensured that SMEs still benefitted from high quality training learning the basics of LCA, the application of life cycle thinking, in addition to the workings of the tool for their business.

A commonality across the sectors was that SMEs generally agreed to training to scope the possibility of
1.) Increasing competitor advantage
2.) Add value for their customers
3.) Improve performance of existing processes that could lead to financial savings and
4.) Communicating their carbon footprint to acquire new customers- especially in the case of public tenders in Northern Europe and large companies who communicate their CF as part of their corporate social reporting (CSR).
SME previous knowledge of LCA varied across the sectors and from SME to SME, so these points of interest proved to be a useful sales tool when recruiting SMEs. Regular communications among the consortium supported the trainers and recruiters in reaching their targets by sharing tips and spotting collaborative opportunities.

The SMEs who benefitted from training most often found the experience relevant and useful to their business, beneficial for their personal development and for being aware of the impacts of their decisions, with most showing a bigger interest in different lifecycles across the full supply chain of their products. It was identified that more work was needed to target both end consumer insight of LCA (bottom up- pull) and the further integration of LCA into policy (top down) to fully influence the uptake of LCA in SMEs. Despite keen interest and a new understanding of the importance of LCA, most SMEs were unlikely to act beyond ‘business as usual’ without a clear incentive.

4.3 Exploitation
The LCA to go software and related sectoral methodologies are valuable tools for SMEs in the target sectors to improve their marketing, internal product development and business processes, and communication with clients. The tool was meant and frequently proved to be a do-it-yourself tool, easy to understand without the need to rely on external expertise. The software code as such is freely available for the public. Under these circumstances a commercial exploitation of the LCA to go results is challenging as the barrier for free use is, by purpose, extremely low. It turned out however, that despite the simplicity of the approach numerous companies appreciated the direct mentoring from an expert, which made the understanding of the approach even easier and a joint creative process, which conclusions to draw from any assessment result. This opens the door for commercial services around the LCA to go tool, might it be dedicated ecodesign projects and support to communicate results properly to externals. Verification of the results by those who know the tools best, i.e. those who developed them, is another exploitation route. To allow also for the commercial exploitation of the open source software a dual-licensing model has been chosen: The software is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 for all purposes where the result again is open source software. In case an interested party wants to modify the software code, i.e. customization, extension to other sectors without making the final result publicly available a commercial license will be granted by LCA to go consortium partners.
The training material is the basis for an online course offered by the School of Biosystems Engineering, College of Engineering and Architecture at University College Dublin (UCD).

List of Websites:
Fraunhofer IZM, Karsten Schischke, Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25, 13355 Berlin, Germany
phone: +49.30.46403-146

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