From LCC to LCSA – The whole journey in one week

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) = Life Cycle Costing (LCC) + Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in its most comprehensive form, including economic, social, and ecosystem impacts.

The course

Subject (lectures and exercises on):

The course introduces the basic concepts of internal and external costs and benefits, marginal utility, unit processes, flows, conservation laws, rebound effects, and the scopes of different types of LCC and LCA. Relevant economic concepts and data sources for LCC will be illustrated with examples.

Exercises will include inflation adjustment, currency conversion, cost allocation, purchasing power adjustments, equity-weighting and discounting (measuring wellbeing across population groups and time).

External costs will be discussed in the context of weak and strong sustainability, sustainable develop­ment, and wellbeing. Quality-Adjusted Life-Years will be introduced as a measure for wellbeing in the context of effective implementation of LCA results.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment is covered by an introduction to the Areas of Protection, instrumental and intrinsic safeguard subjects, how to avoid double-counting with LCC, methods for quantitative assessment of the sustainability gap and the relative importance of impact categories, and how link impacts to economic, social, and ecosystem pressures from human activities, using cause-effect pathways.

In separate sessions, the course participants will investigate the relation of the 17 SDGs to LCSA, specific impact pathways of inequality and missing governance, global warming and other organisation-specific impacts, as well as procedures to deal with impacts for which inventory data are not immediately available.

The course participants will work in groups, performing a full LCSA case study, as a combination of LCC and LCA, including all procedures from defining the functional unit, modelling specific unit processes in the foreground, including by-products and wastes, identifying and linking to the relevant data in environmentally extended input-output tables, calculating life cycle costs and impacts on sustainable wellbeing, to performing contribution analysis of the results.

In separate sessions on data analysis, participants will identify limitations and uncertainties in the underlying data and methods and discuss their importance for study results.

The course will end with a session on interpretation and its relation to the scopes. Throughout the course, reference is provided to relevant ISO standards.

Form and academic recognition:

Form: 18 hours lectures, 22 hours exercises. Lectures are generally planned for morning sessions and most group work is targeted to take place in the afternoons.
Academic recognition: 3.5 ECTS-point including 54 hours mandatory pre-course reading from a literature list provided.

Learning outcomes:

Ability to perform a quantitative LCSA (Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment) as a combination of LCC and LCA, using pre-defined impact categories and available data. Ability to critically assess the validity and limitations of the methodology. Knowledge of impact pathway modelling and how the 17 SDGs can be addressed with LCSA. Knowledge of the relation of LCSA to ISO standards and to traditional, biophysical LCA and Social LCA.