Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing

Week 10 Lecture 6/10/16 by Dr Ali Akbar Nezhad (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW)

Life cycle analysis considers the total amount of carbon that is “trapped” in an item (embodied energy) from start to finish which means that for your coffee maker, you don’t just consider the electricty used to turn on the machine and heat the water etc., but you also look at the energy that wen into actually making your coffee machine from acquiring the raw materials, processing them, transporting them, packaging them and the ongoing maintenance energy costs as well.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Fundamentals

  • considers the entire process for raw material acquisition to demolition
  • starts from the moment of conception

Decisions must be made on environmental impacts, social costs and economics:

  • economics: LCC
  • environmental: LCA
  • social costs: ?

Therefore a combination = Decision System

It is crucial in the scoping stage to determine where the system boundary lies to ensure appropriate data is used and the allow an appropriate comparison between different products. For example, if you’re doing an LCA on a car, you’ll probably say that petrol is an input. But do you include where this petrol has come from? How it was transported to the petrol station and the associated emmission etc.? It doesn’t matter whether you include eveything or not, just as long as you’re consistent and use your best judgement when decided what to include/exclude and where you’re ending you cycle. i.e. are you considering how it’s recycled and where? Or thrown away and the energy moving the item to landfill? As you can see, preparing an LCA is a huge task and extremely time consuming.

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) Fundamentals

This considers the long term costs of sustainable design. It includes not only the cost of the item, but the cost of operation, mainenance/refurbishment, and salvage price.

The equation to work this out requires decisions to be made amount how much money is available to be spent initially, how long the item will be used for, the environmental benefit of one alternative over another, the financial benefeit of one alternative over another etc.


Therefore, decisons need to be made considering oth of these alternative and considerations, to ensure the alternative chosen is truely the best choice over its lifecycle.

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