Environmentally-Extended Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EEEIO-LCA)

Structure of Environmental Impacts of the U.S. Economy Revealed by CEDA. 2014©IERS

An Environmentally-Extended Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EEEIO-LCA) involves the use of aggregate sector-level data to quantify the amount of environmental impact that can be directly attributed to each sector of the economy and how much each sector purchases from other sectors in producing its output. EEEIO-LCA analysis traces out the various economic transactions, resource requirements and environmental emissions (including all the various manufacturing, transportation, mining and related requirements) required for producing a particular product or service.

We perform EEEIO-LCA projects using our peer-reviewed, Comprehensive Environmental Data Archive (CEDA).

This intricate Sankey diagram shows how environmental impacts are generated and passed down throughout the supply chain of the U.S. economy. The paper where this diagram first appeared earned IERS the 2011 Wassily Leontief Memorial Prize from the International Input-Output Association.
 

Product-level LCA

Life cycle primary energy consumption of one window frame over an 80-year service life functional unit.

 

Product-level life cycle assessment (LCA) is a widely used science-based method of quantifying an array of environmental impacts associated with a product’s production, use, and end-of-life management. It is used by a variety of organizations in a number of different applications. Private firms use it for product development and carbon management, and government agencies use it to inform policy decisions.

In 2017, IERS conducted a product-level LCA focusing on the primary energy consumption of window frames made from three different materials, including embodied energy, use phase energy loss, and disposal energy requirements.

Hybrid LCA

IERS offers an efficient, accurate, and comprehensive, two-phased approach to quantifying supply chain sustainability impacts. Quantifying supply chain impacts is the most time-consuming yet uncertain part of an organization's sustainability assessment. In order to estimate supply-chain impacts, a list of inputs to an organization that includes products, services, equipment, and logistics needs to be compiled. The following figure represents this approach - i.e. the complete picture.

  Phase One – Spend Analysis

Phase One – Spend Analysis

Phase One – Spend Analysis

Spend Analysis traces the economic flows and associated sustainability impacts between a company and its suppliers, suppliers' suppliers, and so on across a complete chain of interactions. This approach utilizes only an organization’s general ledger and maps it to CEDA for a “big picture” view. This dramatically reduces the resources usually required to complete a supply chain sustainability impact assessment.

  Phase Two – Process-based Approach

Phase Two – Process-based Approach

Phase Two – Process-based Approach

Process-based LCA analysis focuses on some first-tier, and sometimes second-tier, impacts. Since the boundary is subjective, this may lead to significant underestimations of impacts when it comes to cradle-to-gate or cradle-to-grave impact assessments. Fortunately, Phase One assesses a complete system boundary and can identify supply chain “hot spots” to prioritize for process-based analysis, which often results in good quality data points but requires a substantial amount of resources.

 

A Hybrid LCA Approach

By combining EEEIO-LCA and process-based LCA into an integrated Hybrid approach, IERS can deliver accurate, detailed LCA results while saving time and resources.

  A Hybrid LCA Approach

A Hybrid LCA Approach

LCA Strategic Advisory Services

LCA models and results that are consistent with internationally standards and verifiable through critical review are quite challenging and resource intensive. This is especially true if your organization is conducting sustainability assessments in-house.

If you feel your LCA study or other sustainability assessment could benefit from third-party input, our team of consultants is here to help. We can advise you at any stage of your project, from data collection best practices, to the interpretation of results and development of sustainability strategies. We also offer services to review and verify your environmental assessment results