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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: closed (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 (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Analysis of the Primary Building Materials in Support of G-SEED Life Cycle Assessment in South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2820; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082820
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
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Abstract
In recent years, much research has been conducted internationally to quantitatively evaluate the environmental impact of buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address associated environmental problems. With this in mind, the Green Standard for Energy and Environmental Design (G-SEED) in
[...] Read more.
In recent years, much research has been conducted internationally to quantitatively evaluate the environmental impact of buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address associated environmental problems. With this in mind, the Green Standard for Energy and Environmental Design (G-SEED) in South Korea was revised in 2016. However, the various possible evaluation methods make it difficult to conduct building life cycle assessment. Moreover, compared to research on residential buildings, life cycle assessment research on non-residential buildings is scarce. Therefore, this study analyzes primary building materials for life cycle assessment of current non-residential buildings to support Korean G-SEED requirements. Design documents for various non-residential buildings are obtained, and the types and numbers of materials used in production are determined. Next, the primary building materials contributing high cumulative weight based on the ISO14040 series of standards are analyzed. We then review the most commonly-used building materials while considering non-residential building types and structures. In addition, construction material reliability is evaluated using the environmental impact unit value. With our results, by suggesting the primary building materials in non-residential buildings, efficient life cycle assessment of non-residential buildings is possible in terms of time and cost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle From Wood to Resin—Identifying Sustainability Levers through Hotspotting Lignin Valorisation Pathways
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2745; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082745
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 18 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
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Abstract
The concept of bioeconomy supports the diversification strategies of forest-based industries to create new value chains and contribute to economic growth and sustainability. The use of side streams or by-products of the pulp and paper industry (PPI) is seen as a promising approach.
[...] Read more.
The concept of bioeconomy supports the diversification strategies of forest-based industries to create new value chains and contribute to economic growth and sustainability. The use of side streams or by-products of the pulp and paper industry (PPI) is seen as a promising approach. In line with this, the idea of substituting fossil-based materials and products is frequently discussed. One such example is the use of lignin as a bio-based alternative for fossil-based phenols. Lignin-based products not only have to fulfil identical technical requirements as their fossil-based counterparts, they are also expected to be more sustainable. This study conducts an integrated hotspot analysis of two lignin valorisation pathways during R&D. The analysis considers the provision of technical kraft lignin as a by-product of a state-of-the-art kraft pulp mill, followed by valorisation, either via solvent fractionation or via base-catalysed depolymerisation (BCD), and the final application of the valorised lignins in phenol formaldehyde resins. As a two-step approach, first of all, the environmental hotspots (e.g., energy-intensive process steps) along the valorisation pathways are identified. Secondly, a variation analysis is carried out, which involves the identification of sustainability levers (e.g., selection of solvents). Identifying those levers at an early research stage helps to support the R&D process towards sustainable product development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Environmental Assessment of Amylase Used as Digestibility Improvement Factor for Intensive Chicken Production in Brazil
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2735; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082735
Received: 22 May 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 14 July 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
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Abstract
Industrial enzymes can be used to improve the digestibility of livestock feed components, thereby increasing the nutritional value of the feed, and allowing farmers to change and cost-optimize the feed composition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the environmental impacts of
[...] Read more.
Industrial enzymes can be used to improve the digestibility of livestock feed components, thereby increasing the nutritional value of the feed, and allowing farmers to change and cost-optimize the feed composition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the environmental impacts of adding a starch-degrading enzyme (amylase) to feed for Brazilian chicken production. A lifecycle assessment covering all significant processes in the value chain as well as all significant impact categories was used as analytical tool. The application of amylase increases the energy value of corn in chicken feed and allows saving of costly fat in the feed. In Brazil, the saved fat is used either for biodiesel production or as a replacement for other fats in cleaning and hygiene products. The study showed that approximately 6% of greenhouse-gas emission from Brazilian chicken production could be avoided using the amylase. Using the amylase increases the contribution to nutrient enrichment by 0.6% when the excess fat is used for biodiesel. The use of amylase has little impact on agricultural land use, water consumption and acidification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Carbon Footprint of Packaging Films Made from LDPE, PLA, and PLA/PBAT Blends in South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2369; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072369
Received: 31 May 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 4 July 2018 / Published: 8 July 2018
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Abstract
Bio-plastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) have been investigated as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics. In this study, the carbon footprint of packaging films made from LDPE, PLA, and PLA/PBAT blends was measured with three different waste scenarios based on the database
[...] Read more.
Bio-plastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) have been investigated as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics. In this study, the carbon footprint of packaging films made from LDPE, PLA, and PLA/PBAT blends was measured with three different waste scenarios based on the database of South Korea using life cycle assessment (LCA). The LCA followed ISO standards, and was a cradle-to-grave analysis. The functional unit was defined as 400,000 pieces of a film of 300 × 250 mm with thickness of 0.06 mm for packaging bag manufacturing. The waste treatments considered were incineration, landfill, and recycling applied with the present conditions of South Korea. Under the present analysis conditions, the PLA film with landfill was the most effective for reducing carbon emission. The PLA/PBAT with incineration was the worst case among the packaging films tested. Incineration was the worst choice of waste treatment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Generally, landfill may not be the best option in terms of sustainability but landfill was a better option for waste treatment than incineration. In addition, before bio-plastics are blended with other material, the blending material should first be evaluated for its environmental impact. The blended bio-plastics with PLA, such as PLA/PBAT, can be more inimical to the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions than existing materials, such as LDPE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Carbon Footprint Assessment of Four Normal Size Hydropower Stations in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2018; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062018
Received: 24 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
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Abstract
The emission of Greenhouse gases (GHG) during the life cycle of four hydropower stations with installed capacity from 95 MW to 500 MW are assessed by the integrated GHG reservoir tool developed by International Hydropower Association. Model inputs are extracted from multi-source geographic
[...] Read more.
The emission of Greenhouse gases (GHG) during the life cycle of four hydropower stations with installed capacity from 95 MW to 500 MW are assessed by the integrated GHG reservoir tool developed by International Hydropower Association. Model inputs are extracted from multi-source geographic datasets and construction planning documents. Three main conclusions are summarized: (1) In pre- and post-impoundment stages, areal GHG emission balance in reservoir area depends on the climate background, humid subtropical regions are more active than arid temperate regions. In the construction stage, emissions from fill, concrete and equipment account for more than 70% of the total. (2) GHG intensity falls rapidly when lifetime increases from 10 to 40 years and then drops slightly when lifetime becomes longer, which is 13.60 tCO2e/GWh for 50 years and 8.13 tCO2e/GWh for 100 years on average. The emission rates of hydropower stations with lower installed capacity are obviously large if they work for less than 30 years and differ less with stations possessing a higher installed capacity when their lifetime approaches 100 years. (3) Comparing with electricity generated by coal in China whose GHG intensity is 822 tCO2e/GWh, hydroelectricity is almost 100 times more efficient and clean. Thus, hydropower station plays an important role in dealing with the global warming issue as a substitution for a fossil fuel power source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Evaluating the Environmental Dimension of Material Efficiency Strategies Relating to the Circular Economy
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030666
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 24 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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; https://doi.org/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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