Life cycle analysis (LCA) is an assessment on how products and processes impact the environment. The process can be broken down into three main steps; 1. “Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases, 2. Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases, and 3. Interpreting the results to help decision-makers make a more informed decision.” LCA is associated with the term “cradle to grave,” which is basically the cycle of a material that starts from the earth, lives its life, and returns to the earth. Conversely, the term “cradle-to-cradle” refers to the same process; however, after the life cycle of the product is complete, it is then reborn into another use. LCA is useful for designer to understand because it can help in the selection of products and processes that have little impact on the environment, as well as help save on cost and performance data. Methods for LCA are typically scientifically-based, but there are some alternative impact models that have been developed for the assessment.
Posted by: Kristina Kalfaian