Life Cycle Assessment

A life cycle assessment (LCA) helps clients understand the environmental footprint of their product or process from cradle to grave.

An LCA has many benefits, including:

  • identifying the areas of process or product development that have the greatest environmental impact and opportunities to minimize this impact;
  • helping customers understand the overall environmental impact of the products they consume to inform them when making purchase decisions; and
  • supporting organizations in achieving sustainability goals by enhancing the transparency of the overall value chain.

Our LCA approach (based on ISO 14040):

Define the Goal and Scope

In this critical first phase, we define the LCA's purpose and potential uses. This planning phase includes defining the system boundary, pathways, and assumptions; acknowledging limitations; reviewing preliminary data availability; and determining the types of review. Clearly defining these parameters early in the LCA provides clarity through the subsequent analytical phases; however, some revisions and iterations of the goal and scope should be expected as the LCA progresses.

Inventory Analysis

This phase is typically the most time-intensive part of the LCA: it often requires several iterations of data collecting, data validating, and refining the system boundary as information becomes available. Some data is inevitably unavailable or inaccessible, in which case we must develop and test estimates and assumptions. In some cases, the data represents multiple systems, so we must prorated it to ensure we only consider the data relevant to the system we are examining.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Once we have developed the inventory, we use it to complete the life cycle impact assessment. Typically, we apply sensitives and uncertainties to the analysis so we can understand the areas with higher impact or if better data quality is required. At this stage, we can present the results as a single, combined score (which demonstrates the overall impact of a product) or divide the score among the different stages and processes in the product's development.

Interpretation and Conclusions

The final phase involves resolving any significant issues revealed during the earlier phases; evaluating the LCA's accuracy, completeness, and consistency; and developing final conclusions, limitations, and recommendations.

Brightspot Climate has completed LCAs for a variety of products, processes, and sectors. We support LCAs under many jurisdictions and regulations, such as:

BC Low Carbon Fuel Standard

We have expertise in navigating BC's purpose-built tool and GHGenius for calculating the carbon intensity of low-carbon fuels delivered to BC under its low carbon fuel standard.

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard

In California, the carbon intensity of low-carbon fuels must be calculated with a purpose-built tool, GREET. We can complete carbon-intensity calculations for fuel delivered to California.

Canadian Clean Fuel Regulations

The Canadian Clean Fuel Regulations use OpenLCA, an open-source LCA tool for calculating carbon intensities for participating fuel providers. We can create a custom carbon-intensity model of your process using OpenLCA that includes uncertainty and sensitivity assessments.