Life Cycle Assessment

Understanding the environmental impact of products or processes through its entire lifecycle, from extraction of raw materials to disposal and recycling, is becoming increasingly important for producers and consumers. A life cycle assessment (LCA) assists in understanding the environmental footprint of your product or process from cradle to grave.

Canadian Greenhouse Gas Emissions Consulting Firm

An LCA has many benefits. The assessment identifies which areas of your process or product development have the greatest impact and where opportunities exist to minimize this impact. An LCA helps customers understand the overall environmental impact of the products they consume to inform them when making purchasing decisions. An LCA may help suppliers market a product as low impact, and support organizations in achieving sustainability goals by enhancing the transparency of the overall value chain.

ISO 14040 defines the four steps to completing an LCA:

Goal and Scope Definition

The purpose and potential uses for the LCA are defined in this critical first phase. This planning phase of the LCA includes definition of the system boundary, pathways, assumptions, acknowledgement of limitations, preliminary data availability review and determination of the types of review that will be included in the LCA. Clearly defining these parameters early in the LCA provides clarity through the subsequent analytical phases; however, some revisions and iteration of the goal and scope should be expected as the LCA progresses.

Inventory Analysis

This phase is typically the most time intensive task in LCA as it often requires several iterations of data collection, data validation, analysis within the system and refinement of the system boundary as new information becomes available. Some data is inevitably determined to be unavailable or inaccessible, in which case estimations and assumptions must be developed and tested. The final data must be related to the system, which often involves attribution techniques when emissions are related to multiple systems or processes and only a particular prorated share is relevant to the system under examination.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Once the inventory has been established, the impact assessment phase draws conclusions based on the results. Typically, sensitives and uncertainties are applied to analysis to understand areas with higher impact, or where better data quality is required. At this stage, the presentation of results is catered to the type of audience you are willing to address. A single, combined score will demonstrate the overall impact of your product, or the score may be divided among the different stages and processes in your product development.

Interpretation

The final phase involves identification of significant issues revealed through the earlier phases, a final evaluation of accuracy, completeness and consistency, and the development of final conclusions, including documenting limitations and recommendations.

Brightspot Climate has completed LCAs for a variety of products, processes and sectors. We can support LCA assessments for the following:

BC Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Brightspot has expertise in navigating the BC purpose built tool, GHGenius for carbon intensity calculations for low carbon fuels delivered to BC under the BC LCFS.

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Similar to BC, California requires the carbon intensity of low carbon fuels to be calculated with a purpose-built tool, GREET. Brightspot can complete carbon intensity calculations for fuel delivered to California.

Federal Government Clean Fuel Regulations

The Canadian Clean Fuel Regulations use OpenLCA, an open source life cycle assessment tool for the calculation of carbon intensity for fuel providers wishing to participate. Brightspot can create a custom carbon intensity model of your process using OpenLCA including uncertainty and sensitivity assessments.

Life Cycle Assessment

Brightspot uses OpenLCA for our LCA engagements. This enables us to custom build your process and include various impact categories in our environmental analysis of your product or process. OpenLCA allows the Brightspot team flexibility in modeling your product and the ability to quickly update data inputs as information changes or data quality parameters change.