Land use and biodiversity
The classical impact categories, which can be analysed in a standardised way, comprise the majority of the global environmental impacts of a product life cycle.
But there are impacts more complicated to evaluate such as those on site-specific functions ecosystems, e.g. ground water formation, filtration capacity of soil, or biological diversity (biodiversity). As these impacts gain more and more public and political attention, the European Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), which is currently in the testing stage, requires the inclusion of land use impact categories.
As early as 2002, the department of life cycle engineering (GaBi department) developed a method for the integration of ecosystem services into life cycle analysis (LCA). It has been extended and improved in co-operation with international partners from industry and research institutions and is now available as a fully operational calculation tool (LANCA®, Land Use Indicator Value Calculation Tool).
Biodiversity aspects can be addressed in life cycle analysis through the Biodiversity Impact Assessment method. This method also developed by the GaBi department and extended in several research projects.
Another function of ecosystems which is to be integrated into the LCA methodology within the scope of ongoing research projects is carbon storage in soil and biomass (see projects). This topic is likewise part of the current work of the GaBi department and a number of methods have been and are elaborated and tested together with various partner institutions.
Regarding the current efforts to harmonise the different approaches, the GaBi department contributes substantially to international research in life cycle analysis.
related links internal:
- LANCA info
- LANCA report
- LANCA Characterization Factors for Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Version 2.0