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Special Issue "Environmental Life Cycle Assessment"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Robert Handler

Sustainable Futures Institute, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable energy; local food systems; ecosystem services; curling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue encourages the submission of research papers that utilize environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to understand the environmental impacts of products and services. We welcome original research dealing with life cycle assessment approaches to understanding a wide range of topics. We specifically encourage submissions focusing on novel approaches to acquiring data necessary for LCA, unique applications of LCA methods to assess unconventional products/systems, and LCA applications to manufacturing and/or material systems. Papers submitted to this Special Issue will undergo a rigorous peer review procedure similar to other issues of Sustainability, with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments and applications.

Prof. Dr. Robert Handler
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • life cycle assessment
  • manufacturing systems
  • LCA inventory data
  • environmental sustainability

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Evaluating the Environmental Dimension of Material Efficiency Strategies Relating to the Circular Economy
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 666; doi:10.3390/su10030666
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 24 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
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Abstract
Material efficiency is a key element of new thinking to address the challenges of reducing impacts on the environment and of resource scarcity, whilst at the same time meeting service and functionality demands on materials. Directly related to material efficiency is the concept
[...] Read more.
Material efficiency is a key element of new thinking to address the challenges of reducing impacts on the environment and of resource scarcity, whilst at the same time meeting service and functionality demands on materials. Directly related to material efficiency is the concept of the Circular Economy, which is based on the principle of optimising the utility embodied in materials and products through the life-cycle. Although materials such as steel, on account of high recycling rates at end-of-life, are amongst the most ‘circular’ of manufactured materials, significant opportunities for greater material efficiency exist, which are yet to be widely implemented. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is commonly used to assess the environmental benefits of recovering and recycling materials through the manufacturing supply chain and at end-of-life. Using an example taken from renewable energy generation, this paper explores the correlation between product circularity and the environmental case for strategies designed to improve material efficiency. An LCA-based methodology for accounting for the recovery and reuse of materials from the supply chain and at end-of-life is used as the basis for calculating the carbon footprint benefits of five material efficiency scenarios. The results are compared with a number of proposed material circularity indicators. Two conclusions from this exercise are that (i) LCA methodologies based around end-of-life approaches are well placed for quantifying the environmental benefits of material efficiency and circular economy strategies and (ii) when applying indicators relating to the circularity of materials these should also be supported by LCA-based studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Wood Use in Civil Engineering in Japan Based on Life-Cycle Assessment
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 561; doi:10.3390/su10020561
Received: 2 December 2017 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 22 February 2018 / Published: 23 February 2018
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Abstract
Throughout its life-cycle, wood contributes to climate change mitigation through carbon storage and material and energy substitution. Focusing on wood use for piles, check dams, paved walkways, guardrails, and noise barriers, we quantified the nationwide potential for climate change mitigation in civil engineering
[...] Read more.
Throughout its life-cycle, wood contributes to climate change mitigation through carbon storage and material and energy substitution. Focusing on wood use for piles, check dams, paved walkways, guardrails, and noise barriers, we quantified the nationwide potential for climate change mitigation in civil engineering in Japan through 2050. To assess mitigation potential, we examined life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are avoided by storing carbon in wood and forests, substituting wooden materials for non-wooden materials (cement, concrete, steel, and asphalt), and substituting processing residue and waste wood salvaged from defunct civil engineering structures for fossil fuels (heavy oil). Our projections suggest that there will be a maximum potential domestic log volume of 6.80 million m3/year available for civil engineering use in Japan in 2050, and that it would be possible to produce this volume while increasing Japan’s forest resources over the long term. A maximum nationwide avoided GHG emissions potential of 9.63 million t-CO2eq/year could be achieved in 2050, which is equivalent to 0.7% of Japan’s current GHG emissions. The breakdown of avoided emissions is 73%, 19%, and 8% for carbon storage, material substitution, and energy substitution, respectively, with the greatest contributions coming from carbon storage through the use of log piles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Longer lifetimes or better products? Determining potential trade-offs and benefits of increased durability for LED lamps using a scenario-based life cycle assessment
Authors: Jessika Luth Richter, Carl Dalhammar, Leena Tähkämö
Abstract: Longer lifetimes is a strategy promoted by the EU’s Circular Economy action plan, but incentivising longer lifetimes should not result in trade-offs with other environmental benefits (i.e. the benefits of replacing products with more energy-efficient products). This study explores in what scenarios these trade-offs might occur. Our research expands previous research on optimal durability for products with more complex, dynamic and realistic scenarios. It explores the case of LED household lighting products - a product group with a traditional focus on energy efficiency, but also with rapidly improving technology and rising concerns about the impacts of the extraction and manufacturing stages of the lifetime. The approach uses LCA to construct a number of scenarios with dynamic parameters including improving efficacy, dematerialization, and decarbonization of energy mix, as well as different lifetimes. The research explores the likelihood of different scenarios and the policy implications.

Title: Multi-indicators approach for the evaluation of efficiency of mountain dairy farms
Authors: Berton M., Sturaro E., Ramanzin M. and Bittante G.
Abstract: The study aimed to assess the sustainability of the dairy farms in mountainous areas combining the environmental impact computed according to Life Cycle Assessment and the human-edible feed conversion ratio computed as the ratio between the gross energy content in human-edible feedstuffs and the energy content of human-edible animal product (milk) (HeFCR). Data originated from 38 mixed-breed dairy herds located in the Trento Province (North-East Italian Alps).Average herd size was 49±33 cows and mean Fat Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM) production was 22.8±6.6 kg/cow/day. The cradle-to-farm-gate system boundary included the production and use of on- and off-farm feedstuffs, of fuels and bedding materials, as well as the herd management phases. The reference unit was the farm, and the functional unit 1 kg of FPCM sold. Milk vs meat multi-functionality was solved using a mass allocation method. Global warming (GW), acidification and eutrophication (EU) potentials, as well as cumulative energy demand and land occupation were assessed as impact categories. Mean environmental impact per 1 kg FPCM and impact category resulted 1.1±0.2 kg CO2-eq, 20±4 g SO2-eq, 6±1 g PO4-eq, 5.1±2.0 MJ and 1.4±0.5 m2/year respectively. Mean HeFCR was 0.72±0.46 MJ edible feedstuffs/MJ milk, with a favorable output/input energy balance. All the impact categories were negatively correlated with HeFCR (r ranged from -0.37 for EU to -0.48 for GW). The higher was the impact, the lower was the competition for potential human edible resources. The results evidenced that dairy farms in mountainous areas, strongly linked to permanent grasslands, are efficient in terms of competition for potential human edible resources. The sustainability assessment of the dairy sector, in particular that located in disadvantaged mountainous area, has to include different type of indicators in order to take into account the characteristics and environmental conditions as well as the different products and ecosystem services supplied.

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