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Development of LCA calculator to support community infrastructure co-design

Borrion, A; Matsushita, J; Austen, K; Johnson, C; Bell, S; (2018) Development of LCA calculator to support community infrastructure co-design. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 10.1007/s11367-018-1492-2. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Purpose LCA tools are increasingly used to support decision making. However, the current generation of tools is mainly targeted at users with significant background in industrial and environmental processes. This paper presents a novel process of developing the LCA Calculator with inputs from community members embedded in a co-design process. It demonstrates how engineering tools can be developed by considering end-user perspectives and used to communicate systems thinking in infrastructure co-design. Methods The process of the LCA Calculator development was informed by the outcomes of community engagement through the co-design process. The method consists of four parts including horizon scanning of suitable technology options, LCA modelling, development of the LCA Calculator and pilot testing of the Calculator with residents from the selected case study community. The case study community are residents of a social housing estate in central London. The estate has a total of 123 flats arranged in three low-rise blocks with shared gardens and courtyards. Three technology options—wormery composting, rainwater harvesting and urban food growing—were used to illustrate the LCA methods and test the Calculator development. Results and discussion The Calculator developed in this project pushes the boundaries beyond expert users to develop a new generation of LCA tools for a wider range of decision makers. The LCA results were communicated using the LCA Calculator in a workshop as part of the co-design process. The communication process was supported by the visual language of the Calculator, information sheets of the technology options and community members’ involvement in the process of the Calculator development. The Calculator provided a solid base on which sustainable design discussions could happen. It provided to the participants valuable insights into the scale of material flow given different design choices—such as the amount of waste generated over a month or the irrigation requirements of a raised bed—and environmental impacts of these options. Conclusions A prototype version of an LCA Calculator software tool has been developed to enable rapid assessment of conceptual design of engineering systems. The LCA Calculator was successfully tested at a community workshop, enabling clear engagement between engineering design choices and resource and environmental impacts. The Calculator facilitated a two-way exchange between community members and infrastructure designers that embeds end-user perspectives in the design and implementation of the infrastructure they use, taking into account lifecycle impacts of technology and material options.

Type: Article
Title: Development of LCA calculator to support community infrastructure co-design
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11367-018-1492-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1492-2
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Community engagement, Community infrastructure, Co-design, LCA Calculator, Life cycle assessment (LCA), Sustainability
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10049926
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