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How to lead the way through Life Cycle Assessments

Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) are quickly becoming key drivers in product sustainability leadership according to a new survey and companies without any LCA experience can still reap the benefits thanks to the new GaBi Reader (web) solution from leading sustainability expert PE INTERNATIONAL .

Rising demands from customers and regulators for improved environmental performance and increased transparency are driving a surge in interest for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool for continuous improvement and innovation and a way of improving environmental performance, while avoiding burden shifting and unintended consequences. This is the finding from a new, recently published study by Green Research, an independent research firm focusing on cleantech, alternative energy and sustainability.

The study predicts that aggressive use of LCA and life cycle thinking will become ‘table stakes’ at leading companies over the next few years. It goes on to suggest a number of concrete benefits that these leaders will reap.

For a start, an LCA gives visibility of the full cost of an approach, allowing effective cost reduction decisions and the identification of waste reduction opportunities. On the revenue generation side, LCAs can be used to convey life cycle benefits to customers to win new business.

But the benefits are not just financial. LCAs are highly important in helping a company to become more responsive to requests from major customers for detailed environmental impact information. They will be a requirement for some products to ensure they meet regulations and legislation before they can be marketed successfully.

With an understanding of the impacts of its products and by talking about improvements effectively, a company can enhance its brand and be perceived as leader in its industry. Once a company moves its sustainability initiatives on from the low-hanging fruit to organising the whole company to minimise environmental impacts then a rigorous methodology, such as LCA becomes essential as a quantitative basis for corporate sustainability.

However, there are many product designers and development engineers as well as marketing and sustainability directors without LCA experience. They will benefit greatly from using an interactive product sustainability tool, called GaBi Reader , which is now available from PE INTERNATIONAL to help them to improve products and report on whole product portfolios.

GaBi Reader is an intuitive, fast and easy solution to help companies integrate LCA into the product development process, to quickly evaluate ‘what-if’ scenarios in product and process designs and to effectively communicate – both internally and externally – environmental impacts of products.

Based on professional product models that have been built using the well-known GaBi Software – the leading, all-in-one software tool for modelling products and systems from a life cycle perspective – GaBi Reader’s simple user interface enables users without any prior experience to carry out full-scale LCAs on products and processes. Users can compare scenarios using variables such as material type, mass, transportation mode and distance, power consumption during use and disposal method and display different alternatives graphically side-by-side. The tool is available either as a hosted or software as a service (SaaS) solution.

A demo video of GaBi Reader and a free excerpt of the LCA study by Green Research is available on the PE INTERNATIONAL website for download.

www.pe-international.com

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