2002 Progress Report: Computer-Aided Hybrid Models for Environmental and Economic Life-Cycle Assessment

EPA Grant Number: R829597
Title: Computer-Aided Hybrid Models for Environmental and Economic Life-Cycle Assessment
Investigators: Horvath, Arpad , Eyerer, Peter , Hendrickson, Chris
Institution: University of California - Berkeley , Carnegie Mellon University , University of Stuttgart
EPA Project Officer: Karn, Barbara
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2004
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003
Project Amount: $325,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


The overall objective of this research project is to develop hybrid models that will overcome the major limitations of the two life-cycle assessment (LCA) approaches currently practiced: one based on detailed process model descriptions and corresponding emissions and wastes, and the other based on economic input-output (EIO) data and publicly available resource consumption and environmental discharge data. Although both approaches have advantages, they have major limitations as well. We will demonstrate the utility and comprehensiveness of hybrid models combining both LCA approaches by applying them to life-cycle studies from different sectors of the economy. The specific objectives are to: (1) determine which of the three hybrid LCA models lead to more comprehensive and less uncertain results for a given application or category of products; (2) investigate which hybrid LCA models are useful to a given level of decisionmaking; and (3) determine the accuracy and comprehensiveness of hybrid LCA models against the stand-alone process-based and Economic Input-Output Based Life-Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) models.

Progress Summary:

To date, we have focused on identifying the possible ways of integrating the process-based and input-output analysis-based models with respect to: (1) including detailed process-level environmental data as well as economy-wide (supply chain) environmental impacts; (2) having environmental and economic information about the major products and processes in the economy; and (3) quantifying a wide range of environmental data.

We have compared comprehensively the strengths and weaknesses of the two stand-alone LCA models and identified gaps where the hybrid model could prove superior to either stand-alone model. We also have reviewed the environmental coverage of the two tools that are available: (1) Genome Analysis of the Plant Biological System (GaBi), a process-based LCA; and (2) EIO-LCA, an input-output analysis-based LCA.

The best emerging solution is to prepare both GaBi and EIO-LCA for hybrid analyses by exchanging relevant information that is missing from one of the tools. For example, many sectors from EIO-LCA have been identified that do not currently exist in GaBi, and that could be added to GaBi with the understanding that they represent U.S. conditions and data. Further, EIO-LCA could benefit from more detailed coverage of plastics, which currently is missing but could be transferred from GaBi or another process-based LCA project. In terms of the coverage of environmental emissions and impacts, there are similarities between the tools, and increasing the common set of environmental aspects is desirable.

Future Activities:

We will: (1) formalize the hybrid LCA method, (2) exchange the pertinent data between GaBi and EIO-LCA, (3) prepare both software packages for hybrid LCA analyses, and (4) apply the models to case studies.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 37 publications 17 publications in selected types All 15 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Pacca S, Horvath A. Greenhouse gas emissions from building and operating electric power plants in the upper Colorado River Basin. Environmental Science & Technology, 2002;36(14):3194-3200. R829597 (2002)
R829597 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Suh S, Lenzen M, Treloar GJ, Hondo H, Horvath A, Huppes G, Jolliet O, Klann U, Krewitt W, Moriquchi Y, Munksgaard J, Norris G. System boundary selection in life-cycle inventories using hybrid approaches. Environmental Science & Technology 2004;38(3):657-664. R829597 (2002)
R829597 (Final)
not available

Supplemental Keywords:

life cycle analysis, decision-making, pollution prevention, industrial ecology, sustainable development, clean manufacturing, clean technologies, cleaner production, computational simulations, computer-generated alternatives, computer models, computer science, environmental cost analysis, environmental sustainability, environmentally conscious design, green design., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Economics, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Economics and Business, Environmental Engineering, Atmosphere, computational simulations, life cycle analysis, environmental monitoring, clean technologies, cleaner production, green design, life cycle inventory, environmental sustainability, computer models, clean manufacturing, computer science, industrial ecology, computer generated alternatives, pollution prevention design, life cycle assessment, environmental cost analysis, pollution prevention

Relevant Websites:

http://cgdm.berkeley.edu/ Exit
http://www.eiolca.net Exit
http://www.ikpgabi.uni-stuttgart.de/english/Gabi_soft_e.html Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
Final Report