1998-11-30

The Spatial Dimension in Life Cycle Assessments 982214

The total life cycle approach makes use of data for various sub-systems and modules to describe the relevance of a defined system under consideration. The different processes and steps take place in several locations. The life cycle approach is an assessment tool beyond this spatial dimension. Often these basic information is not available any more or never has been considered as valuable.
By this, different emission sources and different receiving environments are simply neglected by summing up for the total life cycle contributions. The spatial dimension is of outstanding importance for the determination of relevance and meaning of environmental burdens. A more advanced life cycle concept should cover this.
Besides the spatial differentiation within on product system, life cycle consideration are also often used to compare different production sites. On the example of an automotive heat exchanger, produced in several places all over the world, a comparison of the environmental burdens of the different manufacturing locations is demonstrated. This case study reveals the relevance of adequate modeling of transportation, the determination of important influence factors like e.g. the national grid mixes, as well as the individual supply chain interdependencies.
On this case study an recently developed life cycle impact assessment amendment is introduced to demonstrate the different locations influence as a decisive factor.
Besides the environmental assessment, a total life cycle cost modeling supports the general decision making support revealed from this case study.

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