Paper or plastic? Local or imported food? Which is
better for the environment? To answer these questions, one must take
a holistic systems view using a quantitative approach known as life cycle
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a fundamental method for assessing the
environmental impacts of products and technologies from a "cradle to grave"
systems perspective. It is an essential tool for anyone who performs
environmental analyses or uses the results of such analyses for decision
The course will provide an introduction to LCA methods and applications. Students taking this course will emerge with a solid understanding of why
an LCA systems perspective is important, basic skills for sound application
of the LCA method and proper interpretation of its results, and an appreciation
for the strengths and limitations of LCA in practice. The course
will cover the four major steps in LCA: (1) goal and scope definition;
(2) life-cycle inventory compilation; (3) life-cycle impact assessment;
and (4) interpretation and management. The course will include a
hands-on modeling project, which the students will perform in parallel
to the lectures to reinforce learning objectives and to gain experience
in LCA application.
- The basics of energy and mass flows and exchanges with the environment
- Working with unit processes and unit process inventory data - Study design: goal definition, system boundaries, and functional units
- Compiling the data: life-cycle inventory methods (process-based and
- Understanding impacts: life-cycle impact analysis for land, air, water,
- Building a simple LCA model using spreadsheet software - Results interpretation and reporting
Start your review of How Green Is That Product? An Introduction to Life Cycle Environmental Assessment
Patrick E. completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
Great course that teaches the basics of life cycle assessment. Homework assignments are very interesting and show you how to do a LCA using a spreadsheet. The only drawback I can think of is that there is quite a bit of 'hand-holding' when it comes to the homework, so the course is rather easy for people with prior knowledge. However, I think this course is a must take for people interested in sustainability or environmental impact assessment.