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Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
July 2012

Sustainability and Earth Resources: Life Cycle Assessment Modeling

Sustainability and Earth Resources: Life Cycle Assessment Modeling

Corporations are facing increasing risks associated with ecosystems from both natural drivers, such as climate change, as well as institutional drivers resulting from retailers and brands, increasingly making supplier decisions based on life cycle reporting and indexing. These efforts reflect a transition from traditional firm sustainability to a more quantitative product focus, within which the importance and weight of earth resources and ecosystems is dramatically increasing. This paper provides an overview of the limitations traditional life cycle assessment (LCA) methods and presents emerging developments to improve on LCA for resources and ecosystems. This includes LCA efforts to account for spatial relevance, indices of stress, stocks and flows and integrated valuation of services and trade-offs.