Researchers spatialize the environmental footprint by integrating the geographic information system into life cycle analysis


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a comprehensive tool for quantifying the potential environmental impact, i.e. the environmental footprint (ecological footprint, carbon footprint, resource footprint, etc.), from cradle to the fall.

However, the conclusions drawn from the traditional LCA method can be misleading due to the lack of spatial information. Thus, the integration of the geographic information system (GIS) in LCA is considered a promising candidate for spatializing the environmental footprint.

Researchers from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have proposed for the first time a universal methodological framework of GIS-LCA, supposed to improve the standard framework of LCA proposed by the Organization. international standardization (ISO14040).

The study was published in Cleaner Production Journal September 29.

The proposed GIS-LCA framework was built on the basis of a systematic review of global progress and challenges in GIS-LCA studies. This includes four phases of the conventional LCA framework (goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory analysis, life cycle impact assessment and interpretation) and newly incorporated geographic information that is correlative to each module ACV.

Integrated into the lifecycle inventory analysis module, a newly developed multi-stream and multi-node model was used to spatialize and aggregate data in foreground and background systems.

“The GIS-LCA framework proposed in this work is the first improved version of the current international LCA framework criteria published in 2006, and it will certainly enrich the common understanding of the LCA community,” said TIAN Yajun, Director of Extended Energy Big Data . and QIBEBT Strategy Research Center and corresponding author of this study. “The framework lays the foundation for high-resolution spatialization of the environmental footprint, which is important for fine-grained management of the carbon footprint. “

Methodological framework of GIS-ACV. (Image by TIAN Yajun)

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