The role of LCA in decision making in the context of sustainable development

Barbara Nebel, Jeremy Warnes.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a standardised methodology for the quantification of the potential environmental impacts of processes and systems. The data provided can be used effectively to assist in decision making situations.

This paper gives examples on how the results from LCA studies and the process of conducting the study can assist in decision making
processes. Emphasis is on explaining and guidance on interpretation of the information delivered by an LCA as an essential part of achieving broader goals such as sustainability rather than the simple comparison of products.

The role of environmental labels and rating tools in decision making processes from the perspective of LCA is discussed and examples from companies who have already successfully implemented LCA in their organisations are provided.

The paper concludes with recommendations about using LCA more effectively in decision making processes in the built environment in New Zealand.