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Ongoing studies

2022-01: Geographical electricity mix vs. market electricity mix: LCA recommendations? (completed)

The aim of this study is to compare the use in LCA of geographical electricity mixes and market-based electricity mixes (taking into account guarantees of origin, residual mixes, etc.) and the consequences of these choices on LCA results.
Indeed, after a period when geographical mixes were the most widely used in LCA (often based on statistical data per country supplied by the IEA (International Energy Agency), the PEF guide now imposes the use of contractual information as the first choice, the AIB's residual mixes ( being imposed when there is no proof. This PEF guide specifies the requirements of ISO 14067 concerning carbon footprint calculations. In addition, European sectoral standards (EPD for construction, and EPD for electrical and electronic equipment) have adopted these requirements at European level, in order to "align" with PEF.
The aim will be to analyse the different definitions of mixes and the conditions for their application in LCA in order to derive recommendations to help practitioners know when to use which mixes, how to implement them in software and databases, and what the implications are for the results.
While it seems easy to use a contractual mix in phases where the information is known, it seems more difficult to adjust all the background data by using a residual mix (AIB) instead of a country mix (IEA), especially if the modelling of the background system is not available. What about imported products (e.g. from China or the USA)? How can we show that we have complied with the general requirements for consistency of approach as set out in ISO 14044?


2022-02: Land use in LCA: indicators and consideration of land resources (completed)

Land resource management is emerging as a major environmental issue (biodiversity, soil artificialisation, etc.). However, the tools currently offered by LCA (land use type flows) seem both frustrating and complex to use for practitioners.
The aim of this study is to provide recommendations on the use of impact indicators relating to land use in LCA and on the allocation of impacts to the various functions of a given area in order to take better account of land resources.
An example of the application of the LANCA indicator will be implemented, enabling practitioners to apply it more effectively in their LCAs.
An analysis will shed light on the multifunctional vision of soils and determine how to affect land use in this case.
The study will culminate in a best practice guide providing recommendations on the use of impact indicators relating to the use and transformation of land and on the allocation of impacts between different competing and multiple land uses.


2022-03 : Carbon capture : definitions, calculation methods and use (completed)

The aim of the study is to draw up an inventory of the different types of GHG sinks used and usable by companies and to propose methodologies for calculating the emissions captured by these different types of GHG sinks over time, and the associated greenhouse effect.
The first phase will review the definitions of GHG sinks used in different contexts in order to clarify what can and cannot be considered as a sink.
Next, the calculation methods and uses of these sinks by companies will be detailed.
Finally, we will try to assess how these GHG sinks will evolve and the quantified capacities now and in the future.


2022-04: Carbon markets and links with LCA: limits, calculation methods and use in LCA

SCORE LCA study No. 2018-04 on LCA and sustainable finance dealt with carbon credits and carbon footprints. The aim of this new study is to take stock of carbon market mechanisms and provide details of calculation methods (which emission factors are used, how the inventory is compiled, etc.).
The overall aim is to provide information that will eventually enable the carbon markets and LCA to be made consistent, particularly in terms of the calculation methods and data to be collected for these 2 systems.


2022-05: Purchasing products containing recycled content: what relevance in terms of environmental impact? (completed)

SCORELCA members are often asked by purchasers how to make "low carbon" purchases. Non-experts believe that using recycled materials is beneficial for the environment (and more simply that using recycled materials leads to a reduction in GHG emissions and resource use)... whereas LCA practitioners know that this is not always the case, even when it comes to resource use.
Indeed, some intuitively consider that "the use of recycled material is 'free', as all the upstream impacts of the recycled material have been integrated into the previous life cycle". Some of them also say "at the same time" that "recycling a material saves on the production of virgin material".
This study will establish purchasing criteria, along with a guide to explain why and when buying recycled products is or is not beneficial for the environment.


2023-01: Accounting for biogenic greenhouse gases

The accounting of biogenic GHGs, although much discussed, is not very harmonised and sometimes involves contradictory approaches:
- The case of biofuels: The JEC (a grouping of DG JRC with the oil and automotive industries) takes into account the capture of carbon from the atmosphere in the production GHG balance.
- In the case of bio-based plastics, the JRC recommends that the carbon absorbed by plants should not be included in the biogenic GHG balance (Life Cycle Assessment of alternative feedstocks for plastics production - 2021, PEF TAB position paper) "so that the cradle-to-gate balances do not present negative values and can be compared", whereas ISO 14044 requires comparisons to be made on the full life cycle only.
- The application of standard EN 15804+A2 means that if a product contains biogenic carbon, then the equivalent quantity of biogenic CO2 must be captured and the same amount of biogenic CO2 must (necessarily) be released into the atmosphere at the end of the product's life, even if the carbon is in the form of plastic fibres (of biogenic origin) in a concrete matrix... whereas if the same plastic fibres are made from petroleum and used for the same purpose, the carbon will be counted as permanently stored.
- The case of dams in equatorial zones: the biogenic methane produced by these reservoirs may or may not be included in the LCA of dams, depending on the source.
However, physically, "a release of CO2 into the atmosphere contributes to an increase in the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, whatever the origin of the C in the CO2 molecule".
The aim of this project is to bring together the arguments, understand them, discuss them and finally draw up comprehensive recommendations that can be used as a contribution to current debates and as a basis for LCA work on products made from biomass.


2023-02: dynamic LCA

The temporal aspect of the production and use of products is most often neglected. In addition, ISO 14067 requires that the timing of CO2 emissions should be ignored, i.e. that any CO2 emissions or removals that take place during the life of a product should be taken back to the start of the life cycle (T0). However, the lifespan of certain products means that emissions and the resulting impacts need to be temporised.
If a CO2 emission occurs at T0 (e.g. steel production), and the end-of-life modelling considers that by expanding the boundaries of the system after recycling (e.g. steel) the CO2 emission is saved, then it is the net quantity of CO2 (emission at production - end-of-life saving) that is counted as contributing to the greenhouse effect over the entire life cycle. This choice is the same regardless of the product's lifespan.
In addition to carbon, taking into account resources in a recycling context also requires better integration of the time dimension, in particular to take into account the temporary storage of resources in a long-life product.
The DHUP of the French Ministry of Ecology has decided to propose a simplified approach for the BR 2020, in the absence of a standardised methodology. It therefore seems important to produce a study that can serve as pre-normative work, providing practical recommendations and a credible framework designed to respond to (and indeed limit) criticism. This study could be used to support France's position (and perhaps that of other countries) within ISO/TC 207/SC 5 and SC7 (supplements to ISO 14044 and ISO 14067).


2023-03 : Taking forests into account in LCA

The 2013-02 study "State of the art on carbon storage/removal by biomass in LCA" specifically addressed the issues related to biogenic carbon in calculating the impact on climate change of products containing biomass, and in particular those containing wood. However, this study focused almost exclusively on the carbon cycle of the above-ground part of the wood (trunk and branches).
However, a forest ecosystem encompasses a significantly wider range of interactions that are not limited to the climate change indicator and can operate in very different ways depending on how the forest is managed and exploited.
These aspects do not often seem to be addressed in most of the LCAs that have been carried out and made available.
France has defined its policy for combating climate change, notably within the SNBC. For the new buildings sector, this strategy has led to the introduction of the RE2020 and the application of a simplified dynamic approach. This strategy aims to rely as much as possible on bio-sourced resources (75% of neutralization comes from them), and in particular forests and wood products. It seems appropriate to address these issues, which currently appear to be only partially taken into account in LCAs.


2023-04: Methodological recommendations for E-Fuel LCA

"E-fuels" are fuels, in liquid or gaseous form, produced from decarbonised electricity, obtained from a mix that may include renewable sources (PV, wind, hydro) or nuclear power, each of which may involve infrastructure whose construction emits CO2.
This "raw material" distinguishes e-fuels from "biofuels", which are produced primarily from biomass.
The production and use of e-fuels aims to significantly reduce the impacts associated with the production and use of fuels. In particular, some claim that, over their entire production cycle, "e-fuels have a significantly lower carbon footprint than fossil fuels".
Numerous LCA studies are being carried out to identify the cases where this claim of "significant reduction" is correct for e-fuels, and above all to quantify the difference in question, on a case-by-case basis.
However, the specific choices (if any) in LCA to be applied to quantify are not presented in standards, or even in PCRs. However, it seems essential to define specific choices for carrying out quantified environmental assessments, in order to be able to compare them (and make choices) or aggregate them (to obtain correct environmental balances, e.g. of the transport service - i.e. in particular without double counting or omissions). For example, certain European regulations have begun to define calculation rules for calculating the LCI of e-fuels (RED, ETS, etc.).
In addition, questions may arise concerning the life cycle of e-fuels. One of the main ones is as follows: when industrial CO2 is used, should it be considered as a waste product (for which we seek to reduce production) or should it be allocated a share of the production impacts (like any other co-product)?
Finally, what about all the environmental impacts? We must not limit ourselves to the greenhouse effect; we need to identify whether pollution transfers and the associated impacts.


2023-05: Spatialising impacts in LCA

Following on from the SCORELCA study in 2014 on "Taking the geographical dimension into account in LCA" and the 2015 study on "Coupling LCA and GIS", the aim here is to take stock of the extent to which the spatialization of impacts is taken into account in LCA methods and tools (feasibility, relevance, etc.), and the state of the art in terms of their integration into the LCA studies that are expected (in particular by the regulations) and have been carried out.

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