The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (INT J LIFE CYCLE ASS)

Journal description

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (Int J LCA) is the first journal devoted entirely to LCA. LCA has become a recognized instrument to assess the ecological burdens and impacts connected with products and systems, or, more generally, with human activities. The LCA-Journal - which has been expanded by a section on Life Cycle Management (LCM) - is a forum for: Scientists developing LCA and LCM; LCA and LCM practitioners; Managers concerned with environmental aspects of products; Governmental environmental agencies responsible for product quality; Scientific and industrial societies involved in LCA development; Ecological institutions and bodies.

Current impact factor: 3.09

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2015
2013 / 2014 Impact Factor 3.089
2012 Impact Factor 2.773
2011 Impact Factor 2.362
2010 Impact Factor 3.148
2009 Impact Factor 2.636
2008 Impact Factor 1.828
2007 Impact Factor 1.607
2006 Impact Factor 1.42
2005 Impact Factor 1.483
2004 Impact Factor 1.068
2003 Impact Factor 1.035

Impact factor over time

Impact factor

Additional details

5-year impact 3.55
Cited half-life 5.50
Immediacy index 0.32
Eigenfactor 0.01
Article influence 0.96
Website International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment website
Other titles International journal of life cycle assessment (Online)
ISSN 0948-3349
OCLC 60628611
Material type Document, Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Publications in this journal

  • The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose An organization has to consider the influence from an environmental change, such as climate change, to its business activities. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) evaluates an impact to the environment; however, there is no LCA method to evaluate an impact from the environment. This study aims to develop a method for evaluating a relative potential impact from climate change to a product system using an LCA framework and to support adaptation planning. Methods This paper proposes LCA framework adaptation planning (LCA-AP) that can be applied to climate change. First, it identifies environmental drivers induced by climate change that impact human health and social assets. Second, an elementary flow from each environmental driver with potential impacts, such as freshwater use, is identified. Third, an activity requiring a large amount of the elementary flow is identified. The identified activity is a hotspot potentially impacted by climate change, and possible improvements are considered. LCA-AP is demonstrated by a case study of printing paper production. Results and discussion The current life-cycle impact assessment methods, such as water footprints and land use, evaluate impacts to the environment. In contrast, LCA-AP evaluates an impact from the environment, and the environmental mechanism is different. In LCA-AP, a practitioner has to calculate the impact for each country and has to do the same for the water footprint method. After hotspots are identified, the next step is to scrutinize an actual risk of climate change to a company’s own product supply chain. Collaboration with a business partner may identify a risk and its countermeasure. Conclusions Application of LCA-AP to climate change was proposed, and its effectiveness demonstrated through a case study. LCA-AP evaluates a relative potential impact from climate change to a product system in an LCA framework at the product design stage. Existing LCA databases and software can be used to implement LCA-AP. The author recommends expanding the method to other environmental impact categories and developing a way to prioritize impact categories through damage assessment and weighting.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-015-0867-x
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Data centres are high-energy consumers, and historical assessment of their environmental impact has focused largely on energy consumption. Widely adopted assessment methods consider either single issues or do not comprehensively assess links between issues. One exception is the CLEER Model, which compares life cycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Cloud-based and present-day services. However, there remains the need to verify components for inclusion in a data centre life cycle assessment (LCA), assess quality and quantity of secondary data, benchmark an existing data centre LCA, assess non-Cloud-based services for multiple impacts, and establish facility areas that are sensitive to change. Methods A hybrid approach, combining process-based and economic input output (EIO) data, was used to perform the screening LCA of an existing UK data centre. The study includes the definition of the goal and scope, modelling assumptions, a life cycle inventory, results and interpretation and a sensitivity check. Results and discussion The dominance of the information technology (IT) operational phase to the overall impact and the severity of the impact on human health are concluded. Due to the use of free cooling, the IT-embodied impact is greater than the combined mechanical and electrical operational impact. Electricity production dominates the total life cycle impact; however, the second most significant impact derives from the disposal of metal refining waste products during the manufacture of IT components and electricity distribution networks. The release of carcinogens is one of the largest contributors to the whole life cycle impact and is almost equal in value between the embodied and operational phases. Finally, a sensitivity check found that a Swedish facility optimised for operational energy efficiency with a 1.25-year server refresh resulted in an embodied impact almost double the operational. Conclusions It was concluded that current LCI data, software packages and project data allow for a sufficiently accurate data centre LCA model. The results support the need to broaden environmental impact reduction to beyond operational energy consumption for cooling and that building environmental assessment methods (BEAMs) should consider more embodied impacts. It is concluded also that three parameters are sensitive to design changes that influence the overall impact: operational energy for the IT equipment, cooling and power delivery; the energy mix; and the amount of IT equipment across the facility’s lifetime. The results present a clear need to monitor life cycle impact, develop further tools to compare different design/operation options and functional units, improve data and develop an LCA-based BEAM.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015; 20(3). DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0838-7
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Rooftop greenhouses (RTGs) are increasing as a new form of urban agriculture. Several environmental, economic, and social benefits have been attributed to the implementation of RTGs. However, the environmental burdens and economic costs of adapting greenhouse structures to the current building legislation were pointed out as a limitation of these systems in the literature. In this sense, this paper aims to analyse the environmental and economic performance of RTGs in Barcelona. Methods A real RTG project is here analysed and compared to an industrial greenhouse system (i.e. multi-tunnel), from a life cycle perspective. Life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) methods are followed in the assessment. The analysis is divided into three parts that progressively expand the system boundaries: greenhouse structure (cradle-to-grave), at the production point (cradle-to-farm gate), and at the consumption point (cradle-to-consumer). The applied LCIA methods are the ReCiPe (hierarchical, midpoint) and the cumulative energy demand. A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) approach is considered in the LCC. For the horticultural activity, a crop yield of 25 kg · m−2 is assumed for the RTG reference scenario. However, sensitivity analyses regarding the crop yield are performed during the whole assessment. Results and discussion The greenhouse structure of an RTG has an environmental impact between 17 and 75 % higher and an economic cost 2.8 times higher than a multi-tunnel greenhouse. For the reference scenario (yield 25 kg · m−2), 1 kg of tomato produced in an RTG at the production point has a lower environmental impact (10–19 %) but a higher economic cost (24 %) than in a multi-tunnel system. At the consumption point, environmental savings are up to 42 % for local RTGs tomatoes, which are also 21 % cheaper than conventional tomatoes from multi-tunnel greenhouses in Almeria. However, the sensitivity assessment shows that the crop efficiency is determinant. Low yields can produce impacting and expensive vegetables, although integrated RTGs, which can take advantage from the residual energy from the building, can lead to low impacting and cheap local food products. Conclusions RTGs face law limitations that make the greenhouse structure less environmentally friendly and less economically competitive than current industrial greenhouses. However, as horticultural systems and local production systems, RTGs can become an environmentally friendly option to further develop urban agriculture. Besides, attention is paid to the crop yield and, thus, further developments on integrated RTGs and their potential increase in crop yields (i.e. exchange of heat and CO2 with the building) are of great interest.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015; 20(3). DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0836-9
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Life cycle assessment (LCA) can reveal valuable information pertaining to materials, water, and energy that will be consumed throughout a building’s entire predicted life span; however, it is often underutilized in practice. Individuals in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) community are in positions to influence the use of LCA. Thus, this article seeks to clarify the state of knowledge of LCA among this population and understand the perceived benefits of and barriers to its application. Methods Building upon the researchers’ results using focus groups, a national survey of AEC professionals, owners/clients, and related groups was developed to educe knowledge and perceptions within the AEC community. Existing literature suggests time and data demands, complexity, and cost to benefit ratio uncertainty among current LCA framework shortcomings. The survey was structured to further investigate these findings. Furthermore, the survey recorded both a self-assessed and measured level of each respondent’s LCA understanding, which served as a validation for other responses. The information collected spanned a broad range, including LCA knowledge, LCA experience, perceived benefits and barriers to LCA adoption, software tool utilization, and LCA in conjunction with sustainability, in general, and with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Results and discussion Respondents represented over a dozen AEC professions, approximately half being architects and engineers. Ninety percent reported having at least moderate familiarity with sustainability, and 62 % considered sustainability important in their projects for at least 4 years. Only 33 % of those individuals, however, used LCA in half of their projects or more, predominantly for energy analysis. A substantial percentage of respondents exhibited competency in defining LCA, but the disconnect between awareness and the use of LCA can be largely attributed to a perceived lack of demand. However, 86 % of respondents who currently use LCA reported being at least moderately likely to increase their usage of LCA in the future. Conclusions The ability of an LCA to advance sustainability by informing decision-making and provide environmental impact information using a long-term, holistic perspective is valuable to most potential users. Additional benefits and barriers specific to the building sector were revealed in this study, and the factors that may contribute to these perceptions were explored, the knowledge of which can be beneficial in efforts to optimize LCA adoption. Finally, since Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 4.0 explicitly includes LCA, we anticipate a greater integration and use of LCA in the AEC community.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015; 20(3). DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0834-y
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose This paper presents a structured comparison of the European Commission (EC) Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method with a number of existing European environmental accounting methods and standards that were taken into account during its development. In addition to the ISO 14040 and 14044 which represent the main reference, also the ISO/TS 14067, ILCD Handbook, PAS 2050, Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Ecological Footprint and BPX 30-323-0 were considered. This comparison aims at evaluating the extent to which the EC PEF method contributes to filling the identified methodological gaps and, ultimately, the extent to which it meets a number of key principles for PEF studies: relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy and transparency. The EC PEF method has been developed by the Directorate General Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission (EC) in close cooperation with the Directorate General for Environment (DG ENV). It aims at providing a European, common methodology for evaluating the environmental performance of products. Its use for undertaking product environmental footprint studies is supported by the 2013 Recommendation to the EC Communication “Building the single market for green products - Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations.” Methods In this paper, the selected environmental accounting methods are compared against a set of nine identified core criteria for EF studies. These criteria include, e.g. applicability of results, boundary of the evaluation, requirements on data type and quality, requirements on uncertainty evaluation, requirements on reporting and review. Results from this comparison have been used to evaluate the extent to which the methods considered meet a number of key identified principles for EF studies: relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy and transparency. Results and discussion Overall, results of the analysis demonstrate that the EC PEF method resolves most shortcomings identified in the other methods with respect to the core comparison criteria. This, in turn, allows the EC PEF method to largely satisfy all of the key identified principles for PEF studies, and in particular the consistency principle, which is often not fulfilled by the other environmental accounting methods. Conclusions The EC PEF method provides for a greater degree of methodological consistency and establishes unambiguous requirements, hence facilitating increased consistency, comparability and reproducibility of results. It fills most of the shortcomings of the other methods, meeting virtually all of the key principles for PEF studies.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 03/2015; 20(3). DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0839-6
  • The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-015-0864-0
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    ABSTRACT: Erratum to: Int J Life Cycle AssessDOI 10.1007/s11367-014-0841-zIn the published version of this article, there was an error in the affiliation of Cécile Bulle.Her correct affiliation would be:CIRAIG - Strategy, Corporate & Social Responsibility Department, ESG UQÀM, Montreal, QC H3C 3A7, Canada
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-015-0857-z
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is considered to be one of the most important environmental factors contributing to the global human disease burden. However, due to the lack of broad consensus and harmonization in the life cycle assessment (LCA) community, there is no clear guidance on how to consistently include health effects from PM2.5 exposure in LCA practice. As a consequence, different models are currently used to assess life cycle impacts for PM2.5, sometimes leading to inconsistent results. In a global effort initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Life Cycle Initiative, respiratory inorganics’ impacts expressed as health effects from PM2.5 exposure were selected as one of the initial impact categories to undergo review with the goal of providing global guidance for implementation in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). The goal of this paper is to summarize the current knowledge and practice for assessing health effects from PM2.5 exposure and to provide recommendations for their consistent integration into LCIA. Methods A task force on human health impacts was convened to build the framework for consistently quantifying health effects from PM2.5 exposure and for recommending PM2.5 characterization factors. In an initial Guidance Workshop, existing literature was reviewed and input from a broad range of internationally recognized experts was obtained and discussed. Workshop objectives were to identify the main scientific questions and challenges for quantifying health effects from PM2.5 exposure and to provide initial guidance to the impact quantification process. Results and discussion A set of 10 recommendations was developed addressing (a) the general framework for assessing PM2.5-related health effects, (b) approaches and data to estimate human exposure to PM2.5 using intake fractions, and (c) approaches and data to characterize exposure-response functions (ERFs) for PM2.5 and to quantify severity of the diseases attributed to PM2.5 exposure. Despite these advances, a number of complex issues, such as those related to nonlinearity of the ERF and the possible need to provide different ERFs for use in different geographical regions, require further analysis. Conclusions and outlook Questions of how to refine and improve the overall framework were analyzed. Data and models were proposed for harmonizing various elements of the health impact pathways for PM2.5. Within the next two years, our goal is to build a global guidance framework and to determine characterization factors that are more reliable for incorporating the health effects from exposure to PM2.5 into LCIA. Ideally, this will allow quantification of the impacts of both indoor and outdoor exposures to PM2.5.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 02/2015; 20(2). DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0822-2
  • The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0843-x
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Current comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) studies claim to answer whether it is better or worse for the environment to change from old to new systems. Most commonly, the attributional LCA (ALCA) is practised despite its limitations to describe market effects. Hence, an attempt is done here to include market effects in the ALCA practice for comparisons in order to improve ALCA. The purpose is neither to investigate which LCA concept, ALCA, consequential LCA or decisional LCA, is the best for comparisons nor which is the best for decision-making. Methods Here, for the first time, a method based on marked changes which can be used for sensitivity checks of comparative ALCAs, advanced ALCA (AALCA) is presented. The new concept of global change mix factors (GCMF) is introduced. The method, based on accessible market data, is applied to previous comparative ALCAs of conductive adhesives, cooling modules used in radio base stations, office computing systems, as well as personal devices usage, here represented by multifunctional smartphones replacing other devices such as digital cameras. Results and discussion The results show that AALCA based on market data improves the understanding and can act as a sensitivity check of comparative ALCA results. For declining markets of products, with relatively high eco-environmental impacts, the difference between comparative AALCA and ALCA can be significant. As AALCA is founded in marginal electricity thinking and uses market data, there are similarities between AALCA and simplistic consequential LCA (CLCA). However, AALCA is not intended to replace CLCA or decisional LCA (DLCA). Conclusions By applying allocation factors, GCMF, based on real or future market changes, the interdependence of global markets and micro-level LCA shifts can be taken into account in comparative micro-level ALCA studies and make them more robust. Further, the sensitivity of using price units instead of physical units, as the basis for the GCMF, should be investigated. The degree to which AALCA and CLCA can complement each other should be examined. Also, the degree to which the GCMF used in AALCA-H address rebound effects should be further explored. The annual eco-environmental impacts of mobile devices towards 2020 are also of interest, and more LCA case studies are welcome.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 01/2015; 20(2):263-275. DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0830-2
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Health damage from ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) shows large regional variations and can have an impact on a global scale due to its transboundary movement. However, existing damage factors (DFs) for human health in life cycle assessments (LCA) are calculated only for a few limited regions based on various regional chemical transport models (CTMs). The aim of this research is to estimate the human health DFs of PM2.5 originating from ten different regions of the world by using one global CTM. Methods The DFs express changes in worldwide disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to unit emission of black carbon and organic carbon (BCOC), nitrogen oxides (NOx ), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). DFs for ten regions were calculated as follows. Firstly, we divided the whole world into ten regions. With a global CTM (MIROC-ESM-CHEM), we estimated the concentration change of PM2.5 on the world caused by changes in the emission of a targeted precursor substance from a specific region. Secondly, we used population data and epidemiological concentration response functions (CRFs) of mortality and morbidity to estimate changes in the word’s DALYs occurring due to changes in the concentration of PM2.5. Finally, the above calculations were done for all ten regions. Results and discussion DFs of BCOC, NOx , and SO2 for ten regions were estimated. The range of DFs could be up to one order of magnitude among the ten regions in each of the target substances. While population density was an important parameter, variation in transport of PM2.5 on a continental level occurring due to different emission regions was found to have a significant influence on DFs. Especially for regions of Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, the amount of damage which occurred outside of the emitted region was estimated at a quarter, a quarter, and a third of their DFs, respectively. It was disclosed that the DFs will be underestimated if the transboundary of PM2.5 is not taken into account in those regions. Conclusions The human health damage factors of PM2.5 produced by BCOC, NOx , and SO2 are estimated for ten regions by using one global chemical transport model. It became clear that the variation of transport for PM2.5 on a continental level greatly influences the regionality in DFs. For further research to quantify regional differences, it is important to consider the regional values of concentration response function (CRF) and DALY loss per case of disease or death.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0837-8
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Following water, tea is the second most consumed drink worldwide and has the peculiarity that not only its production but especially its preparation can be associated with considerable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The aims of this study were to calculate the cradle-to-gate and cradle-to-grave product carbon footprint (PCF) of Darjeeling tea and to identify potentials to reduce GHG emissions along its life cycle. Therefore, various options for action and their impact on the PCF were modeled by using a scenario analysis. Methods To assess the PCF of Darjeeling tea, the method based on ISO/TS 14067 was used with some limitations. Besides one base scenario, alternative cradle-to-gate scenarios and different use profiles were modeled. The results were split in a cradle-to-gate and a cradle-to-grave perspective. For the cradle-to-gate phase a functional unit of one kilogram loose black Darjeeling tea was chosen, whereas for the cradle-to-grave phase one liter black Darjeeling tea that is prepared and ready to drink in Germany was seen as appropriate functional unit. Primary data for the present study has been collected from local farmers, manufacturers, and agents in Darjeeling, Kolkata, and Rotterdam. For secondary data, the database ecoinvent 2.2 was mainly used. Results and discussion The cradle-to-gate PCF of 1 kg Darjeeling tea is between 7.1 and 25.3 kg CO2e depending on the cultivation method, energy sources used, or mode of transportation. The cradle-to-grave PCF for 1 l organic Darjeeling tea is about 0.15 kg CO2e. The largest share, 51 %, makes up the use phase, which is clearly dominated by the boiling of water. The variety of possible use profiles yields results of great breadth. It shows that the life cycle of organic Darjeeling tea transported by ship, depending on the preparation variants can cause emissions from 0.12 to 0.51 kg CO2e/l tea. Conclusions The main reduction potentials for GHG emissions were identified in the process of water boiling, the intercontinental transport mode, and the cultivation method. Since the climate impact of tea strongly depends on the way in which it is prepared, the consumer has a decisive influence on the PCF. Therefore, in order to make a reliable statement about the climate performance of consumer goods such as tea, the whole life cycle must be considered.
    The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11367-014-0840-0