Life Cycle Assessment VIII
'Calculating Consequences Beyond the Box'

 

Best Practices within Industry

Session Coordinator: Bill Flanagan - GE Global Research

Speakers:
Bill Flanagan - GE Global Research
Todd Krieger – DuPont Engineering Research and Technology
Gary Jakubcin – Owens Corning
Stella Papasavva – General Motors R&D

Many companies have been practicing LCA for years, while others are relatively new to the field. Each company has its own unique culture driven by business strategy, competitive landscape, organizational structure, and many other internal and external factors. As a result, industrial approaches to LCA and sustainability vary widely. This session will focus on the state-of-the-art of LCA as currently practiced within industry. Invited speakers will present overviews describing their company's approach to LCA along with examples. The presentations will be followed by a brief panel discussion.

Topics to be addressed include:

• The roles and applications of LCA within industry
• Level of internal LCA expertise
• Use of LCA software tools
• Use of LCA-based ecodesign tools
• Approach to streamlined LCA
• Carbon footprinting in the context of LCA
• Obstacles to industrial practice of LCA
• Organizational structure and funding
• Level of interaction with external stakeholders (committees, agencies, initiatives)
• Trends in demand for / interest in LCA

The General Electric Company launched ecomagination in May of 2005 based on four commitments: (1) double the investment in R&D for cleaner technologies; (2) increase revenues from ecomagination products; (3) reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the energy efficiency of GE’s operations; and (4) keep the public informed. These commitments represent ambitious goals for GE and reflect the broader challenges our customers and society face. Drawing on our global capabilities, our strengths in technology and our knowledge of markets around the world, gives us the ability to position ourselves to build a broad portfolio of innovative solutions to a range of energy and environmental challenges. In this context, GE Global Research has formed an Ecoassessment Center of Excellence that provides focused expertise in life cycle assessment (LCA), fate & transport of materials in the environment, and human health / eco risk assessment. This presentation will feature a brief overview of GE’s Ecoassessment capabilities and will highlight the evolving vision for LCA and ecodesign within GE.

The DuPont mission is "sustainable growth" - creating shareholder and societal value while reducing the company’s footprint throughout the value chain. In 2006, DuPont announced two new sets of sustainability goals with a target date of 2015. The voluntary footprint reduction goals guide initiatives to decrease raw material and energy inputs into products and reduce emissions at manufacturing sites. The market-facing goals identify opportunities to develop new products and offerings that will help meet DuPont’s customers' needs and expectations for more sustainable products. This talk will use examples from a broad range of DuPont businesses to illustrate the critical role Life Cycle Assessment has played in setting the goals, in developing innovative solutions for sustainable product and process design, in monitoring progress towards our goals and in stakeholder engagements.

Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 company focused on building materials and services and composite solutions, includes an organization of more than forty people focused on sustainability. Areas addressed by the organization include building science, greening of operations, green products, product stewardship, development of sustainable communities, and community outreach. The current market enthusiasm for green products and building practices has led to increased interest in verified LCA data by organizations such as LEED and ASTM. Owens Corning uses LCA to communicate with external organizations and stakeholders, guide product design, and support green marketing claims. The company contracts with external experts, as well as, performs ISO 14040-based life cycle assessments using internal resources. Internally, the company also uses LCA principles to perform screening projects, such as raw material and product modification evaluations. Obstacles to LCA practice include lack of publicly available product specific data, including raw materials for OC products and competitive products for side-by-side comparison.

Stella Papasavva will discuss LCA at General Motors in the context of her work developing GREEN-MAC-LCCP©, a tool for assessing the life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions of alternative refrigerants. Common refrigerants such as the currently-used automotive refrigerant HFC-134a, are hydrofluorocarbon based chemical compounds and are therefore greenhouse gases (GHGs). As a result they are subject to the Kyoto Protocol timetables, which demand a 5% worldwide reduction of GHGs by 2012 from the 1990 CO2 atmospheric concentration levels. The European Union mandates that by January 1st, 2011 HFC-134a will be banned in all new vehicle models and by January 1st, 2017 in all new vehicles. The new replacements must comply with GWP values less than 150.

In the effort to cool the passenger vehicle cabin, at comfort levels that enhance traveling time and achieve safety levels for the occupants, greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted either due to refrigerant leakage (direct emissions) or due to the A/C operation (indirect emissions). In response to reduce the global warming impact of MACs, policy makers and the industry are investigating alternative refrigerant systems, either by significantly improving the current HFC-134a systems based on I-MAC (Improved-Mobile Air Conditioning) requirements or by completely replacing it with new and with lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.

The goal of this study is to assess the total Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the current HFC-134a refrigeration system and compare it with the proposed alternatives.

The results provided in this study are the outcome of an LCA model, GREEN-MAC-LCCP©, we developed at General Motors and which has been accepted as the industry standard to evaluate the life cycle GHG of any alternative refrigerant. All input data have been discussed and agreed upon by OEMs worldwide. The model estimates the GHG emissions associated with the: (a) manufacturing and end-of-life of various alternative refrigerants, (b) manufacturing and end-of-life of each component of the A/C system, (c) energy and CO2 emissions from A/C operation during the lifetime of the vehicle, and (d) refrigerant leaks during production, transportation, use phase, servicing, accidental, and end-of-life disposal, (e) various climatic conditions and different driving cycles.

The total global warming impact of an A/C system is evaluated in terms of the Direct and Indirect effects. The Direct Effects account for the industrial manufacturing and leakages of the refrigerant, and are expressed as the CO2 equivalent emissions of the different refrigerants. The Indirect Effects account for the total amount of CO2 released due to the operation of the vehicle and the manufacturing of its components. The Total LCA GHG emissions are the sum of the Direct and Indirect CO2 equivalent emissions.

The presentation will provide an overview of the model and its impact to the current transition in finding the best alternative options.