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Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) has developed fast over the last three decades. Whereas LCA developed from merely energy analysis to a comprehensive environmental burden analysis in the 1970s, full-fledged life cycle impact assessment and life cycle costing models were introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, and social-LCA and particularly consequential LCA gained ground in the first decade of the 21st century. Many of the more recent developments were initiated to broaden traditional environmental LCA to a more comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis (LCSA). Recently, a framework for LCSA was suggested linking life cycle sustainability questions to knowledge needed for addressing them, identifying available knowledge and related models, knowledge gaps, and defining research programs to fill these gaps. LCA is evolving into LCSA, which is a transdisciplinary integration framework of models rather than a model in itself. LCSA works with a plethora of disciplinary models and guides selecting the proper ones, given a specific sustainability question. Structuring, selecting, and making the plethora of disciplinary models practically available in relation to different types of life cycle sustainability questions is the main challenge.
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Environmental science & technology
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Evaluation of biomedical technology in relation to cost, efficacy, utilization, etc., and its future impact on social, ethical, and legal systems.
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