Annex 1: Challenges Faced in the LCSA References from the Bibliometric Analysis


Short topic description

Challenges faced

Klöpffer (2008) and Klöpffer and Renner (2007)

Discussion of possible definitions for LCSA of products

Quantitative methods needed for decision-making if different solutions are offered; quantification difficult challenge for SLCA

Finkbeiner et al.(2010)

The 'life cycle sustainability dashboard' and the 'life cycle sustainability triangle' are presented as examples for communication tools for both experts and non-expert stakeholders

Real and substantial implementation of the sustainability concept

Comprehensive, yet understandable presentation of LCSA results

Different possible perspectives (producer, customer, societal) when considering the life cycle costs

Data availability

To unambiguously determine and measure sustainability performance for processes and products

Trade-off between validity and applicability

Moriizumi et al. (2010)

To assess the sustainability of two mangrove management systems in Thailand using a life cycle approach and using three indicators: net global warming emissions (CO2-eq.; environmental indicator), amount of employment created

in local communities (social indicator) and the value of cash flow generated (economic indicator)

Other environmental indicators; estimation of spillover impacts of production activity; combining the results with decision-support tools

Heijungs et al. (2010), Guinée and Heijungs (2011), and Guinée et al. (2011)

Proposal of a framework for LCSA

Structuring, selecting and making the plethora of disciplinary models practically available in relation to different types of life cycle sustainability questions

To derive consistent criteria for implementing methods

(e.g. attributional, consequential and scenario-based modelling of systems and related time frames, including aspects of unpredictability of emerging systems, complex adaptive systems, etc.)

LCSA research methods and practical examples

Linking approaches to questions

Backcasting LCA

Halog and Manik (2011)

Integrated methodology for LCSA by capitalising the complementary strengths of different methods used by industrial ecologists and biophysical economists


Manzardo et al. (2012)

To develop a 'grey-based' group decision-making methodology for the selection of the best renewable energy technology using an LCSA (LCA + LCC + SLCA) perspective and addressing the issue of uncertainty

Subjectivity involved in qualitative evaluations

Menikpura et al. (2012)

Development of a method for comprehensive sustainability assessment on most of the critical environmental, economic and social impacts starting from LCA


Stamford and Azapagic (2012)

To identify the most sustainable options for the future UK electricity mix applying a sustainability assessment framework developed previously by the same authors

The influence of priorities and preferences of different stakeholders on the outcomes of the sustainability assessment of electricity options

Traverso et al. (2012a)

The integration of LCSA and the dashboard of sustainability into a so-called life cycle

sustainability dashboard (LCSD) and its first application to a group of hard floor coverings

Having (quantitative) data for the (particularly SLCA) indicators considered

How to handle qualitative data that can particularly be meaningful in the social assessment, in a basically quantitative method



Short topic description

Challenges faced

Traverso et al. (2012b)

Application of life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) and the life cycle sustainability dashboard (LCSD) for comparing different PV modules

Selection of social LCA indicators

Weighting sets needed for the LCSD

More case studies needed, for example, to calibrate indicators and weights

Zamagni (2012)

Editorial on a new section on LCSA

How can the LCSA framework be consistently applied, considering different degrees of maturity of LCA, LCC and SLCA?

Is adopting the same system boundary for LCA, LCC and SLCA always feasible and conceptually correct?

What role does scenario modelling play in the LCSA framework?

What approaches exist for including mechanisms in the analysis?

How can different domains, normative positions (values) and empirical knowledge be dealt with?

How can future changing structures of the economy be accounted for?

How can uncertainty be accommodated and managed?

Bachmann (2013)

Ranking of power generation technologies by means of (1) the total cost approach, adding private and external costs, and (2) a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) integrating social, economic and environmental criteria

How to separate the different life cycle-based assessments into environmental, economic or social in particular to avoid double counting?

The inclusion of risks

Dealing with benefits

Dealing with value choices

Cinelli et al. (2013)

Workshop on LCSA: the state-of-the-art and research needs – November 26, 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark

How to communicate LCSA results?

How to put LCSA into practice?

Dealing with technological, economic, political relations at different scales of analysis

Theoretical roots of LCSA and frameworks

Giesen et al. (2013) and Hu et al. (2013)

Putting the LCSA framework of Guinée et al. (2011) into practice by five operational steps: (1) broad system definition, (2) making scenarios, (3) defining sub-questions for individual tools, (4) application of the tools and (5) interpreting the results in an LCSA framework

How can LCSA be approached practically?

Only one social impact indicator could be modelled in the process-based LCA structure

More case study examples needed

Pesonen and Horn (2013)

Streamlined rapid assessment tool – the sustainability SWOT – and empirical testing of its impact on the corporate world analysing whether or not it leads changes in either strategic or operative-level activities

Development of approaches to quicken the resourceconsuming inventory and assessment phases of LCSA; easy-to-understand communication of results; streamlined approach for managing uncertainties of all types with transparency and competence

Sala et al. (2013a, b)

Review of main challenges posed to sustainability assessment methodologies and related methods in terms of ontology, epistemology and methodology of sustainability science

A framework for SA should be able to better deal with externalities, interrelations, different applications, multiple stakeholder needs and multiplicity of legitimate perspectives of stakeholders, to deal with nonlinearities, normative choices, uncertainties and risks

LCSA should be developed ([further] in order to:

Guarantee a holistic perspective in the assessment

Be hierarchically different from LCA, eLCC and sLCA. It should represent the holistic approach integrating (and not substituting) the reductionist approach of the single part of the analysis

Enhance transparency and scientific robustness

Tailor the assessment for local/specific impact

Encourage and systematise the interaction among stakeholders involved in the

development, application and use of the LCSA results

Widen the goal of the integrated assessment (e.g. including not only negative but also positive impacts)



Short topic description

Challenges faced

Vinyes et al. (2013)

LCSA comparison of three domestic collection systems for used cooking oil (UCO) to determine which systems should be promoted for the collection of UCO in cities in Mediterranean countries

Quantitative indicators for SLCA

Relating social indicators/impacts to the functional unit

How to restrict social indicators proposed to a manageable and comparable number

Weighting methods

Zamagni et al. (2013)

From LCA to LCSA: concept, practice and future directions. Introductory article to a special issue on LCSA

Limited number of LCSA applications, the majority of which focus on the interface of environmental and economic aspects; social aspects are less addressed

SLCA data and indicators

Weak understanding at the conceptual level of SLCA and LCSA

What is the appropriate scale of LCSA: products, enterprises, communities or nations?

Kucukvar and Tatari (2013)

To quantify the overall environmental, economic and social impacts of the US construction sectors using an economic input–output-based sustainability assessment framework

Lack of comprehensive data sets for all three pillars

Uncertainty assessment

Onat et al. (2014)

Integrating several social and economic indicators demonstrating the usefulness of IO modelling for quantifying sustainability impacts, providing an economywide analysis and a macro-level LCSA

Dynamic system approach

Kucukvar et al. (2014b)

To develop a triple bottom line sustainability assessment model evaluating the environmental and socio-economic impacts of pavements

Uncertainty assessment; weighting of different impacts

Kucukvar et al. (2014a)

Adding fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making method to the approach above

Uncertainty of LCA results including weighting of sustainability indicators and limitation of the EIO method should be included in decision-making

Ostermayer et al. (2013)

The application and potential of LCSA in the built environment, focusing on refurbishment of residential buildings, LCA, LCC and limited social assessment, and applying a multidimensional Pareto optimisation method

Dynamic modelling of energy mixes and related LCI data sets; dynamic modelling of discount rates and energy price scenarios for LCC; suitable indicators for SLCAs

Extreme dependence and differentiation of SLCA indicators on regional and cultural conditions; lack of data for SLCA; discussion needed on what aspects need to be implemented into SLCA at least

Stefanova et al. (2014)

An approach to structure the goal and scope phase of LCSA to identify the relevant mechanisms [deepening] to be further modelled for a case study on a new technology for the production of high-purity hydrogen from biomass to be used in automotive fuel cells

Structured identification of [deepening] mechanisms to be modelled in a specific case

Heijungs et al. (2014)

Using IO tables, planetary boundaries and minimum consumption levels to backcast directions to 'safe operating spaces'

Improving the backcasting models to including more impact categories, dynamics, definition of a welfare function, allocation of surplus consumption to consumption categories, etc.

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