life cycle approaches,
and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent expertsto work with the OECD in the early 1990s to promote thinking in the field.Today, with many progressive companies adopting life cycle approaches, Yakowitznoted, many would argue that LCA has come of age. Moreover, LCA requirements haveemerged from the public and private sectors. Both have attendant human and financialresource implications and raise concerns about consistency and methodology. LCArequires both resources and expert talent, and practitioners are in short supply.Dr. Yakowitz argued that life cycle approaches are beginning to drive institutionalchange in some cases and can lead to innovation and be a positive, integrative force. Aswell, LCA is proving helpful in examining and assessing processes and products. Whilethe initial impetus toward LCA arose from environmental interests, LCAs today are donefor strategy, design, marketing, and production reasons, as well as motivations connectedwith environment, health and safety. In some cases, LCA thinking is gaining wider CEOrecognition and moving from being solely the concern of sustainability and environmentdepartments. It appears that LCA is having an integrative role, fostering greater exchangeand collaboration across multiple divisions within companies.Penn/Wharton’s IGEL sought to address these and other issues concerning LCA duringits second annual conference-workshop. The following report summarizes some of thehighlights taken from the four panel discussions. Keynote speakers in addition to those onpanel include Anne Papageorge, Penn’s Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate;William Braham, Associate Professor of Architecture at Penn; Ted Emmett, Professor of Medicine at Penn and Deputy Director of the Center for Excellence in EnvironmentalToxicology; Harry Ischiropoulis, Research Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology atPenn; and Donna Cooper, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Policy and Planning.
Life Cycle Analysis – History and Current Practices
Panel one of
Integrative Thinking About Life Cycle Analysis
was co-moderated byWharton’s Marilyn Yakowitz, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions and anIGEL fellow, and Wendi Latko, Manager of Environmental Products and Services inEnvironment, Health and Safety at Xerox. The panel brought together five thoughtleaders in the field, each a prolific writer and actively engaged in key aspects of LCA.The group presented a soup-to-nuts overview of LCA, introducing critical issuesassociated with LCA, first principles derived from physical science and engineering,lessons gained from hundreds of real world LCA efforts with business and industry, thedesign and manufacturing processes, the energy sector, and finally, bottom-line concerns.Dr. James Fava of Five Winds International launched the panel, noting the growth of private requirements and regulations and the current roles of firms, governments, andinternational organizations in advancing life cycle approaches. He called attention to life
We use the term life cycle approaches to include LCA and other tools which may not be as quantitative asLCA but which attempt to examine environmental issue s over a product or service life cycle. See UNEP,“Why Take a Life Cycle Approach.”