BRS 350: Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment
Time Offered:6:00PM - 7:15PM
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a quantitative approach to assessing the environmental, economic, and/or social impacts associated with the entire supply chain of a product, process, or service. LCA is a systematic and holistic approach that enables designers and planners to identify the most impactful stages of a supply chain so that we might strategically intervene to improve the system. In this course students will learn about the LCA standards developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Students will also develop estimation, data verification skills, how to consider uncertainty in analysis, and learn how materials and energy flows lead to impacts to ecological and human systems. Over the course of the semester students will build their own LCA project by finding appropriate data, developing a life cycle inventory, entering data into LCA software, completing an impact assessment, and finally analysis and interpretation of the results generated. LCA is a flexible methodology and students will be encouraged to focus their project on a topic relevant to their broader learning and career objectives. Learning to complete an LCA also develops critical thinking skills, or life cycle thinking, which enables people to develop the skillset to pay attention to the larger system in which they are working in order to develop the human, materials and energy transactions that can lead to more renewable and sustainable systems. Class projects will allow the students to apply LCA to biorenewable systems, including agricultural and biological processes and product development.