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Speakers Announced for LCA XVII Event in Portsmouth

EarthShift Global Sustainability News, Press Releases

ACLCA's LCA XVII Conference in Portsmouth, NH

LCA XVII Event — October 3 - 5, 2017
Special Sessions and Oral Presentations by Our Team

ACLCA logo for annual life cycle assessment conference, LCA XVIIPre-conference Workshops on October 2

Executive Track overview for October 3-5

Members of the Sustainable-ROI community should consider attending this October’s American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) LCA XVII Conference in Portsmouth, NH, as it will feature a number of S-ROI related presentations.

The full program has been released, relevant content will include:

Special Sessions


Special Session 3:
Tuesday, October 3 - 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm  |  Location: Woodbury Room

A Roadmap for Increasing Adoption of Uncertainty in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

ABSTRACT — Incorporating uncertainty into LCA has been an active topic of research for nearly two decades. However, there is little formal guidance in standards on how to conduct an LCA including uncertainty and there is limited use of uncertainty in LCAs.

A SETAC working group has been established to create a roadmap for increasing the adoption of uncertainty in LCA. There has been significant discussion within the group about the barriers to increasing uncertainty adoption and solutions to overcome those barriers. This special session will include an overview of these barriers and solutions and a moderated discussion on the key topics that should be included in the roadmap.

Experts in the field of uncertainty in LCA will provide brief overviews of the state-of-the art on key topics in the roadmap, including barriers and solutions for increased adoption. These overviews will be limited to five minutes per speaker and a maximum of two slides that should only be used to illustrate key concepts. The roadmap topics and the speakers are as follows.

  • Uncertainty characterization – empirical quantities and databases (US): Julie Chen, Carnegie Mellon
  • Uncertainty characterization – empirical quantities and databases (Europe): Christopher Mutel, Paul Scherrer Institute
  • Uncertainty characterization – model domain and value parameters (models & scenarios): Brandon Kuczenski, UC Santa Barbara
  • Uncertainty characterization – characterization and normalization factors: Pascal Lesage, CIRAIG
  • Uncertainty analysis – comparative analyses: Randolph Kirchain, MIT
  • Uncertainty analysis – software: Andreas Ciroth, GreenDelta
  • Communicating uncertainty – Gregory Norris, Harvard University

Including an introduction to the session, these overviews will take up approximately 45 minutes, or about half of the session. The remaining 45 minutes will be a moderated discussion about the uncertainty roadmap led by Lise Laurin of EarthShift Global, the chair of the SETAC roadmapping committee, and Jeremy Gregory of MIT. The discussion with the panel and the audience will focus on prioritization and timing for the roadmap (i.e., short, medium, and long-term).  In particular, solutions for increasing adoption of uncertainty in LCA by practitioners will be prioritized.

Participants in this special session will learn about the state-of-the-art in uncertainty in LCA and solutions being proposed to increase its adoption. More importantly, they will have the opportunity to shape the direction of the SETAC roadmap on the topic. The format of the session is geared towards limiting the use of slides to present highly focused topics in detail and instead relying on brief, high-level overviews of topics to stimulate an extensive discussion.

Presenter:  Jeremy Gregory, Research Scientist from MIT
Moderator:  Lise Laurin
Authors:  Jeremy Gregory, MIT; Lise Laurin, EarthShift Global; Julie Chen, Carnegie Mellon; Andreas Ciroth, GreenDelta; Randolph Kirchain, MIT; Brandon Kuczenski, UC Santa Barbara; Christopher Mutel, Paul Scherrer Institute; Pascal Lesage, CIRAIG; Gregory Norris, Harvard University


Special Session 4:
Wednesday, October 4 - 8:30 am to 10:00 am  |  Location:  Woodbury Room

LCA Insights for Additive Manufacturing

This multi-dimensional session, which is scheduled to include 3D printing presentations from GE and HP, will also feature EarthShift Global founder and CEO Lise Laurin facilitating a social risk assessment of 3D printing, and also presenting details of an S-ROI analysis done for HP.

ABSTRACT — 3D Printing

As additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, enters the mainstream of production technologies, LCA is well-positioned to guide manufacturers, designers, customers, and regulatory bodies in the potential environmental implications of an emerging technology. It provides a rare opportunity to use LCA can be applied as a forward-looking tool to make proactive choices in all aspects of the technology, from the design of the additive manufacturing tools and processes to the additively-manufactured parts themselves. In this special session we will look at how additive manufacturing compares with more established manufacturing technologies, discuss the unique advantages it brings to product design, look at how those advantages affect the environmental impact of additively-manufactured parts and their subsequent assemblies, and present considerations for sustainability in a world where additive manufacturing becomes establishedbecomes more widely deployed. We will also look at the potential societal implications of a world where complex, customizable objects are readily available to anyone, anywhere.

The purpose of this special session is to present perspectives of additive manufacturing from different viewpoints, those of industry, academia, and LCA practitioners in a single, cohesive session. We will do so by providing cases studies for additively-manufactured components, presenting LCA results from a variety of additive manufacturing methods, and showing potential Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI) outcomes from one particular additive manufacturing method.

The session will commence with three presentations on additive manufacturing LCAs.  We will then use this information as the basis for a brainstorming session with the attendees in which we discuss potential sustainability and societal implications of additive manufacturing as a mainstream manufacturing method. The session will conclude with a S-ROI presentation that will provide information on at least some of the potential societal implications of the technology. Attendees will leave the session with a better understanding the environmental impacts of additive manufacturing compared with existing manufacturing technologies, its potential sustainability impacts, how LCA is guiding a developing technology early in its adoption, and greater insight into the societal implications of this new technology from a broad base of experience and approaches.


1.  Three LCA presentations

  • Bill Flanagan, GE, “Additive vs. Conventional Manufacturing of an Aircraft Engine Fuel Nozzle Tip”
  • Jeremy Faludi, Dartmouth College, “Priorities for Sustainability in 3D Printing”
  • Tom Etheridge, HP, “A Comparison of Additive Manufacturing with Injection Molding of Automotive Trim Parts”

2.  Brainstorm among all attendees on potential sustainability and societal implication of additive manufacturing and how LCA can help inform that.

3.  Presentation by Lise Laurin, EarthShift Global, “Investigating the Sustainability of 3D Printing of Plastics”

ABSTRACT — Investigating the Sustainability of Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing through a Screening S-ROI

This presentation is part of the 3D Printing Special Session.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has the potential to change the way products are designed and manufactured, resulting in broad scale environmental, social and economic changes. There has been significant discussion of these changes in literature, however, there has been no assessment of the magnitude of the impacts. To begin to close that gap, a screening level Sustainable Return on Investment assessment builds on an anticipatory life cycle assessment of a few specific parts using HP’s technology (results to be presented earlier in the session) by adding social risks and benefits. All results are monetized to reflect real impact to HP, the affected stakeholders and society at large. Several risks and opportunities will be considered including the availability of customized, inexpensive prostheses, encouragement of entrepreneurship in developing countries and the manufacture of weapons. Results will be considered in light of the brainstorming session to be held immediately before the presentation in this special session.

Presenters and Co-authors:  GE, HP and Jeremy Faludi will present the LCA of 3D printing. Lise Laurin will facilitate a social risk assessment and present the HP Sustainable-ROI (S-ROI) results.


Oral Presentations


Session CS 23/2:  Social Impact Assessment & Use 
Thursday, October 5 - 8:30 am to 10:00 am  |  Location: Amphitheater

Assessing Present And Future Impacts Of Providing International Development Support To Central American Smallholder Growers

Caroline Taylor, EarthShift Global’s director of research and development, will present the latest results from S-ROI work we’ve been doing in the Pathways to Prosperity Challenge, a program sponsored by the US Department of State and managed by the World Environment Center. The partnership has a goal of providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Americas with innovative measures to build sustainability, market access, and competitiveness, and S-ROI has proven to be an extremely useful tool for analyzing and assessing its activities.

ABSTRACT — We present the results of a current and prospective assessment of a program to support smallholder growers in Central America. Vista Volcanes, a Guatemalan SME, has developed a mesh greenhouse and associated ‘paquete tecnológico’ with materials and training, provided to participating growers in Guatemala and El Salvador with support from a US State Department grant for innovation in the region.

This work uses a multifaceted approach, with life cycle (LCA) and social life cycle (SLCA) assessments in concert with Sustainable Return on Investment (S-ROI), incorporating economic, societal and environmental impacts. The three methods span the continuum from established, mature methodologies to emerging techniques and together provide an integrated perspective on the program’s performance and environmental impacts.

We find that the program has significantly improved life cycle environmental impacts by sharply increasing crop yield and obviating the need for pesticides. While at a scale difficult to assess with SLCA, risks are found to be minimal and impacts on the participants are expected to be beneficial. The S-ROI analysis captures a level of granularity inaccessible in the SLCA and we find that participating growers and the environment benefit most. In addition to dramatic increases in grower income, decreases in frequency of crop failure, and significantly lower environmental impacts, we find increased food security, additional resiliency through intended crop diversification and market-driven improvements in working conditions among the overall benefits. A preliminary review of the assessment process suggests that there is significant value despite the additional effort required, as leveraging the three approaches together yields additional insights that inform project scope and modeling, and improves data quality.

The results contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the intersection between agricultural investment and rural poverty alleviation, in part by helping to identify potential hot spots and benefits, such as gaps in policy among the border countries and advantages from including training. The work also yields a clearer picture of investment and policy implications, supporting ‘suite of tools’ approaches to assess the holistic value of investment and thus contributing to improved decision-making processes for long term sustainability.

Presenter:  Caroline Taylor, Director of Research and Development at ESG will present some of the latest State Department Sustainable-ROI (S-ROI) results.
Authors:  Caroline Taylor, Harnoor Dhaliwal, Lise Laurin


Session CS 14/2:  Solar & Low Carbon Technologies
Wednesday, October 4 - 10:30 am to 12:00 pm  |  Location:  Amphitheater

Comparative Greenhouse Gas Assessment of a Solar Installation in Vermont vs. Natural Gas Based Electricity Field of Solar Panels

ABSTRACT — This work presents a comparative greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of a proposed solar installation in Ludlow, Vermont vs. natural gas as an alternative means of adding capacity to the New England grid.

The proposed site for the solar installation is a 38.5 acre, partially forested area that has historically been managed for forest products and continues to be a managed, working forest at the time of this project. To calculate the GHG emissions from the solar installation, we quantified the change in emissions associated with: 1) maintaining the current forest management regime at the site and adding conventional electricity generation capacity via natural gas to the New England grid (baseline scenario); and 2) converting the forest to a solar panel installation site to supply additional generation capacity to the New England grid (solar installation scenario). The difference between these two values is an estimate of the GHG reduction that the project can expect to achieve. The functional unit for this analysis was defined as generating 640,000 MWh of electricity over a period of 20 years which is the expected minimum service life of the solar installation.

The results of the analysis indicated that significant reductions in GHG emissions could be achieved by pursuing the solar installation scenario, ranging from 87.8% to 89.3% reductions depending on forest carbon assumptions. The solar installation scenario was further compared with the existing Vermont and New England grids and the results showed that substantial GHG emission reductions of up to 80% could be achieved if the electricity is generated using the solar scenario.  

Presenter:  Jillian Crowley, Junior Sustainability Analyst
Authors:  Harnoor Dhaliwal and Nathan Ayer, both Senior Sustainability Analysts; Jillian Crowley and Samuel Boduch, all from EarthShift Global


Session CS 24/3:  Novel Case Studies 
Thursday, October 5 - 8:30 am to 10:00 am  |  Location: Prescott Room

Life Cycle Assessment of Cigarettes

EarthShift Global’s FDA work will be showcased here.

ABSTRACT — In 2016, 258 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States (Maxwell 2017). While the human health effects of cigarette use have been heavily studied, the life cycle environmental effects of cigarettes have not received much attention. Here we present LCA results for the life cycle of a typical U.S. tobacco cigarette including consideration of the full suite of impact categories included in the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Environmental Impacts (TRACI) (Bare 2012). 

We created original foreground unit processes for U.S. tobacco production, cigarette manufacturing, cigarette distribution and retail sale, use, and end of life. Ecoinvent 3.3 and modified versions of Ecoinvent data were used to represent supply chains and a unit process version of EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) was adapted to represent end of life emissions (ICF 2016). Foreground data were parameterized for sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo analysis (MCA). 
Results are presented for midpoint impacts and include analysis of contributions from life cycle stages, supply chain processes, and individual pollutants. To aid in understanding the relative importance of different midpoint impacts, two approaches are presented: (1) impacts are expressed as monetary values and (2) impacts are expressed as unitless ratios by normalizing to U.S. totals. We also performed sensitivity analysis to explore the relative significance of variability in key parameters and use Monte Carlo analysis to understand the probability distributions of results. This study provides a baseline for understanding contributions to the life cycle environmental impacts of cigarettes and could be used to understand the potential environmental effects of changes in cigarette designs or initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts along cigarette supply chains.

Presenter:  Troy Hawkins, Senior Analyst for Environmental Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment at Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG)
Authors:   Troy Hawkins and Janet Mosley of Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), Nathan Ayer, Senior Analyst and Lise Laurin, Founder and CEO, both of EarthShift Global, Hoshing Chang and Mehran Niazi of the Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Session CS 1/1:  Making the Most of LC Inventory Data
Tuesday, October 3 - 10:30 am to 12:00 pm  |  Location: Harbor’s Edge Room

LCA Capability Roadmap: Inventory Model Description and Revision

ABSTRACT —LCA practitioners face many challenges in their efforts to describe, share, review, and revise their inventory models and to reproduce the models and results of others. Current Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) modeling techniques have weaknesses in the areas of describing model structure; documenting the use of proxy or non-ideal data; specifying allocation; and including modeler's observations and assumptions -- all affecting how the study is interpreted and limiting the reuse of models. Practitioners must also deal with licensing, privacy / confidentiality of data, and other issues around data access which impact how a model can be shared.

This talk presents the progress of a SETAC North America discussion group, whose aim is to define a roadmap of the technical advances needed to achieve easier LCA model sharing and improve replicability of LCA results among different users.  Inventory models should be described in a way that is independent of the LCA software used to compute the results and does not infringe on any licensing restrictions.  

The group identified milestones in three different areas:

  •  Describing model contents
  •  Describing model structure
  •  Collaborative use of models

If the LCA community is successful in creating a consensus approach for describing inventory models, this approach would serve as a major stepping stone to overcoming two issues that arise out of most LCA studies: transparency and reproducibility.

The group has produced a roadmap document and is seeking community input and feedback.  The document can be found on the SETAC website.

Presenter:  Brandon Kuczenski, Researcher at University of California
Co-author: Lise Laurin


Register for LCA XVII (on ACLCA website)


Combine Business with Pleasure, Enjoy Portsmouth, NH

This year’s conference is being held in beautiful Portsmouth, NH, near EarthShift Global’s headquarters, and we’d love to welcome anyone with an interest in Sustainable-Return On Investment (S-ROI) as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Combine business and pleasure, check out our recent blog on Things To Do in Portsmouth, NH.


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