Life Cycle Sustainability – An introduction to quantitative impact assessment

This course gives a thorough introduction to quantitative Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), covering measurement of impacts on the economic, social, and ecological systems (the three pillars), related to clearly defined ‘Safeguard subjects’ organised by the six capitals concept. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are introduced as an exhaustive policy framework to describe the impact pathways from pressure indicators to impacts on the Safeguard subjects. Insights from subjective wellbeing research are explored as a means of obtaining scores of relative importance of different impacts with Quality-Adjusted person-Life-Year (QALY) as a common measure.

The course

Subject and outline:

Lectures and exercises on:

  • Sustainable development as a measurable concept
  • Concepts of capitals, assets, safeguard subjects, instrumental and intrinsic areas of protection
  • Methods for assessing relative values of impacts
  • Estimating the current annual global impacts on sustainable wellbeing
  • Subjective wellbeing research as a source of data for calibration and integration
  • The 17 SDGs as policy areas
  • Re-arranging the SDG indicators for improved consistency
  • Identifying important and default impact pathways
  • Distinguishing impacts attributable to specific activities from non-production-specific impacts
  • Missing governance as a core explanatory factor
  • Data sources and integration into life cycle assessment databases
  • The social footprint as a measure of country-specific impacts on sustainable wellbeing
  • Inequality and equity-weighting

Form and academic recognition:

Form: 9 hours lectures, 7 hours exercises.
Academic recognition: 1.5 ECTS-point including mandatory pre-course reading from a literature list provided.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the quantitative approaches to measuring sustainable development
  • Ability to explain different indicator classification systems and their relations and relevance
  • Understanding current methods for assessing relative values of impacts
  • Understanding the relative importance of current global impacts on sustainable wellbeing
  • Understanding the relevance of subjective wellbeing for measuring sustainable development
  • Understanding the 17 SDGs as an exhaustive policy framework
  • Ability to assess the relevance and explain the relationships of different SDG indicators
  • Ability to assess the relevance and importance of different impact pathways
  • Ability to attribute impacts to specific activities or to missing governance
  • Knowing how the social footprint of a specific activity or product is calculated
  • Understanding the relevance and procedures of equity-weighting

The practicalities

When and where?:

Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th in January 2022
Spain, Barcelona, International Life Cycle Academy (ESCI‑UPF), Passeig Pujades 1

Participant prerequisites:

The course focusses on the impact assessment part of LCA and does not cover general aspects of Life Cycle Inventory Analysis and modelling. This means that at least a theoretical understanding of LCA is a prerequisite.

Teaching staff:

Bo Weidema, Professor
Benjamin Portner, Master of Science

Price and course conditions:

2400 EUR – for professionals (consultancy, industry)
1200 EUR – for university personnel (postdocs, professors)
600 EUR – for PhD students
Second registration from the same institution offered at 50% discount (enquire for details before you register). Does not include travel, accommodation and meals. Accommodation recommendations will be sent once course is confirmed.


Please apply via mail to the course secretary: Inger Weidema:

Registration deadline:
17 November 2021