UNEP Towards a LCSAMakingInformedChoice
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UNEP Towards a LCSAMakingInformedChoice


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some databases for generic data are under 
development. Moreover, considering that 
site-specific and generic data (i.e. average 
national or regional data) are used in the 
three techniques, it is recommended that 
while implementing an LCSA, both types of 
data are taken into account. Some examples 
of the type of data collected when starting an 
LCSA is presented in Table 6.
Figure 15. Example of life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) inventory data for unit process 
and organization levels.
The availability of data is another aspect that 
must be considered; this may be a critical 
issue in developing countries and in small 
and medium enterprises when conducting 
an LCSA. One important issue to consider is 
UNIT PROCESS
C
osts
R
evenue
CO2
Product
N2O
Working
hours
ORGANIZATION
Water
Certification of 
management
systems
LCC data
S-LCA data
(environmental)
LCA data
38 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products38 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products
Although normalization, aggregation and 
weighting are optional steps according to 
ISO 14040, any aggregation and weighting 
of results of the three techniques used are 
not recommended because of the early stage 
Table 6. Example of life cycle sustainability 
assessment data for marble slabs case study 
(Traverso and Finkbeiner, 2009).
(Environmental) 
LCA data
LCC data S-LCA 
data
Energy 
consumption
Fuel costs Total 
employees
Natural resources Water-
disposal costs
Wages
Water use Electricity 
costs
Accidents
CO2 Labour costs Child labour
NOx Revenues Working 
hours
SO2 Raw material 
costs
Employees 
- Employees 
gender
Phase 3 Impact assessment
It is recommended that the classification and 
characterization steps are implemented as 
the minimum and mandatory steps according 
to ISO 14040 (2006) and ISO 14044 (2006) in 
order to proceed with the impact assessment 
in LCSA. Again, please note that LCC does 
not have a comparable impact assessment 
step, since aggregated cost data provide a 
direct measure of impact.
In the classification step, inventory data are 
assigned to the impact categories selected and 
this is feasible in LCSA. However, considering 
that characterization models are not available 
for all impact categories and impacted 
environments, it may neither be possible to 
convert all LCSA inventory data into common 
units nor to aggregate them within each impact 
category required by the characterization step. 
It is recommended, whenever feasible, that a 
combined framework for impact assessment 
based on the individual S-LCA, LCC and 
(environmental) LCA frameworks (example in 
Fig. 16) is used.
Phase 4 LCSA interpretation 
The overall objective of an LCSA is to 
provide a combined assessment of a product 
system. The results of an LCSA will show 
not only the negative impacts but also the 
benefits.
It is recommended that the results are 
read in a combined fashion based on the 
goal and scope definition. The evaluation 
results may help to clarify: if there are 
trade-offs between economic benefits and 
environmental or social burdens; which life 
cycle stages and impact subcategories are 
critical; and if the product is socially and 
environmentally friendly by understanding 
the impacts of the products and materials on 
society.
When evaluating the results, it is 
recommended that data quality is taken into 
account. This refers to the characteristics 
of data and its ability to satisfy stated 
requirements (UNEP/SETAC, 2011). 
Interpreting the results in a combined fashion 
can be difficult and presenting clear LCSA 
of LCSA research and implementation and 
because the individual aims of each of the 
techniques applied are not directly comparable 
to the other.
3939Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products
Figure 16. Examples of midpoint and endpoint categories, subcategories of stakeholders and cost 
categories when starting a life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA).
LCI results
 
Wages costs
Material costs
Energy costs 
Equipment costs 
Revenues
Taxes
Discount analysis 
LCI results 
Raw materials
Land use
CO2
VOC
P
SO2
NOx
CFC
Cd
PAH
DDT
etc. ...
Midpoint
Climate 
change
Acidification
Human 
toxicity
Eutrophication
Endpoint
Human 
health
Ecosystem 
quality
Resources
Subcategories
Health and 
safety
Corruption
Discrimination
Child labour
Cost 
categories
Labour costs 
LCI results
 
Presence of codes of conduct 
in an organization 
Compliance with regulations 
regarding health and safety 
Annual meetings with local 
community representatives 
Presence of information for 
consumers regarding health 
and safety of product 
Presence of corporate policy 
to prevent corruption 
Number of employees 
Number of women 
Presence of children working 
Women\u2019s wages 
Men\u2019s wages 
etc. ...
Impact 
categories
Human 
rights
Working 
conditions
Material costs 
results to compare similar products to support 
decision-making processes is a key challenge 
(Traverso and Finkbeiner, 2009; Hardi and 
Semple, 2000; Jesinghaus, 2000; Weidema, 
2006). 
40 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products40 Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Making informed choices on products
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LC
A
Traverso et al. (2009) try to address this 
challenge by introducing the \u2018Life Cycle 
Sustainability Dashboard\u2019 (LCSD). This 
is an adaptation of the Jesinghaus\u2019s 
dashboard of sustainability (2000), which 
was originally developed to assess 
several communities by integrating 
economic, social and environmental 
factors.
The life cycle sustainability dashboard 
consists of a macro written in MS 
EXCEL®, which allows for comparison 
of two or more products based on 
scores and colours. In this approach, 
the indicators are grouped