Topic 2 Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment

– Definition & Meaning –

Life Cycle Assessment – compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system1 throughout its life cycle. (ISO 14040:2006)

Life Cycle Assessment is a process of evaluating the effects that a product1 has on the environment over the entire period of its life thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and decreasing liabilities. (European Environment Agency – Glossary)

“LCA addresses the environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts (e.g. use of resources and the environmental consequences of releases) throughout a product’s life cycle from raw material acquisition through production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling and final disposal (i.e. cradle-to-grave)”. (ISO 14040:2006)

  • an internationally standardised methodology
  • a science-based method of appraising the environmental impact of a product
  • takes into account the full life cycle of the product
  • does not address the economic or social aspects of a product
  • designed to support decisions, not for decision-making


It might also be called: Environmental Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Analysis, Life Cycle Assessment study (LCA study), Cradle-to-Grave Analysis or Eco-Balance

Video: LCA 6 minute crash course

 Life cycle thinking and sustainability in design by Leyla Acaroglu

A quick intro to LCA, providing snippets of LCA/LCT information taken from a 90-minute lecture)

Source: Disrupt Design