Consequential Life Cycle Assessment With Market-Driven Design
This article describes the development of a consequential life cycle assessment (cLCA) with endogenous market-driven design (MDD). Incorporation of MDD within cLCA (cLCA-MDD) is beneficial because design decisions, influenced by market forces, are a major source of environmental emissions and resource consumption in many life cycle systems. cLCA-MDD captures the environmental impact of these design responses resulting from industrial and policy decisions. We begin by developing the concept of cLCA-MDD, then present a case study that demonstrates how design responses can be endogenously captured in a cLCA analysis. The case study is in two parts: First, we incorporate endogenous design responses into a cLCA of a mid-size vehicle and, second, we conduct a policy analysis using a cLCA-MDD approach. The case study illustrates that cLCA-MDD can capture multiple “ripple effects” resulting from an industrial decision (e.g., downsizing a vehicle's engine) or a policy decision (e.g., raising gasoline taxes) and that these effects significantly influence results. A key challenge of the approach is appropriately managing and communicating uncertainties associated with the choice of economic parameters or models. We discuss sources of uncertainty in cLCA-MDD and demonstrate a presentation scheme to facilitate communication of result sensitivity to uncertainties from input parameters, models, and model structure.