Life-Cycle Analysis

Industrial ecology is a relatively new discipline, especially when placed in context of terrestrial ecology. An industrial ecosystem includes the interaction of a group of industries involved in the extraction and processing of raw materials, primary and secondary production of products, and their use and final fate (Graedel and Allenby 2002). Life-cycle analysis (LCA) is a tool in industrial ecology that is used to quantify the environmental burdens associated with a product, process, or activity by identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and waste released to the atmosphere. In essence LCA is an ecosystem model that simulates the flow of one or more materials such as CO2, water, solid waste, through an industrial ecosystem.

Life Cycle Assessment

It is increasingly important to consider the industrial forest C cycle because humans harvest the forests and transport the wood fiber to production facilities where the C is stored in wood and paper products or used as feedstock for biofuels (Gower et al. 2003). Few LCA’s exist because they extend over many sectors in industry. Shown below is a real-world LCA for dimensional lumber and magazines conducted by Gower.

Life cycle assessment

LCAs help land managers and policy makers identify major sources of an environmental burden, that is, greenhouse gas emissions, and these data can be used to identify opportunities to reduce such burdens. Check out examples of output from LCA. If interested in our group completing an LCA for you, please do contact us .