Glossary

What is a Life Cycle Assessment?

What is a Life Cycle Assessment?

What is a Life Cycle Assessment?


by: Gary Yoder and Jaskaran Sidhu | February 22, 2022


Team Working on LCA


Solutions
considered essential to decarbonization reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet rarely come without other environmental impacts. For example, while vehicle electrification will increase battery production, the mining of lithium has a substantial environmental impact. So how do we evaluate whether each trade-off on our path to net-zero is worth it? A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which offers a framework for quantifying the potential environmental impacts of a product from cradletograve (i.e., from growth/extraction of raw material inputs all the way through a product’s disposal), allows us to make that determination.
 


Benefits of
LCAs?
 

Unlike GHG footprints or other Environmental, Social, & Governances (ESG) metrics that typically quantify enterprise-level impacts and show year-to-year progress, LCAs often focus on the potential environmental impact at a specific product or a facility level. Such information can be important to customers, suppliers, employees, investors, and regulatory entities. 

ClimeCo has performed a variety of LCA projects across multiple industries and scopes. The goals of an LCA can vary; the following two projects provide examples of two different approaches to LCAs that ClimeCo has recently completed for our clients.  

Wide-angle bottom view of a contemporary construction of an oil refinery or a modern fuel factory facility in an industrial zone, with a round bridge, plenty of pipes, iron beams, tanks, and stairs


LCA Example #1

Confidential Industrial Manufacturer: Benefits of Practice Change vs. Historical Performance at a Facility 

ClimeCo carried out a cradle-to-grave carbon intensity (CI) LCA for four products made at an industrial facility.  

The Objective: Communicate Carbon Capture Benefit 
One of the many applications of an LCA is its ability to demonstrate the environmental benefits achieved by adopting different operational practices. A detailed analysis of GHG emitted through the product lifecycles showed the reduction in CIs achieved by capturing previously vented process CO2 for sequestration. These CIs, and their recent reductions, will be used in customer communications and marketing efforts, differentiating the environmental “value” of the products from those offered by competitors.    

Another Use: Evaluate Decarbonization Options 
LCAs can be a reliable methodology for demonstrating GHG benefits achieved through existing decarbonization actions – as was the case for the scenario above – and for evaluating various potential reduction measures prior to their implementation. When used in combination with tools like Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC), LCAs can help assess reduction pathways along with their associated monetary cost.  

Financial Incentive Opportunities 
Identifying GHG performance improvement opportunities can open doors to participate in current and upcoming federal- and state-level programs that come with significant financial incentives. These include California’s Low Carbon Fuel StandardCanada’s Clean Fuel Standard, or the IRS carbon sequestration tax credit (45Q), each requiring full product LCAs.   

J-Band asphalt paving roads and reducing need for maintenance

LCA Example #2

J-Band® – Benefits of Product vs. Alternatives 

ClimeCo collaborated with Asphalt Materials, Inc. (AMI) to complete an LCA-based sustainability assessment of J-Band®, AMI’s void reducing asphalt membrane (VRAM) product.  

The Product 
AMI designed J-Band to reduce road maintenance and extend the lifetime of asphalt pavement roads by strengthening the longitudinal (centerline) joint, traditionally a problematic site for road deterioration. The deterioration results from the intrusion of air and water due to inherently lower asphalt mixture density at the joint. Over time, the joint naturally becomes the weak link in the entire road surface, requiring periodic repairs before complete road replacement. To combat this, J-Band® is a polymer-modified asphalt product applied to the prepared surface prior to applying the new hot-mix asphalt (HMA). When the HMA pavement lifts are applied, heat from the hot-mix drives J-Band® into the available voids, sealing the joint area from below. Due to established jurisdictional practices and specification requirements, J-Band® is used in a smaller percentage of asphalt paving projects in the U.S., with traditional solutions, such as joint adhesive, pave wide trim back (PWTB), and infrared (IR) heaters, being more common.  

The Product’s Competitive Edge: Performance and Cost 
AMI has demonstrated that J-Band® creates a better joint compared to the alternatives, eliminating the need for frequent, significant joint repair, and prolonging the life of the road by at least three additional years. Based on this performance, AMI has shown that J-Band® has a lower lifetime cost, with its upfront costs surpassed by reduced asphalt materials, fuel, and labor costs.  

A Sustainability Edge, too? 
Is the same true for J-Band’s lifetime environmental and social impacts? The product requires energy and material inputs to manufacture and apply – are these impacts surpassed by the benefits of reduced maintenance and extended road lifetime? ClimeCo completed a comparative LCA, evaluating J-Band against three traditional longitudinal joint solution alternatives to answer this question. The comparative LCA approach meant impacts common to all alternatives could be excluded, such as from the production of hot-mix asphalt, transporting the asphalt to the job site, and the paving equipment. The following table shows the life cycle stages included in the analysis.  

Life Cycle Analysis Stages

The Analysis 
ClimeCo quantified GHGs, criteria air pollutants (AQ), and worker safety impacts across road manufacturing, product transport, joint solution application, and road maintenance. The developed calculator tool clearly documents assumptions and data sources. It is customizable for key project details, such as project length, distance to the project site, and distance to perform maintenance. 

The Results 
Under the assumed baseline conditions, J-Band demonstrated better sustainability performance on all metrics compared to the longitudinal joint solution alternatives. For more information on this project scope and results, please see the following PowerPoint presentation.   


Using LCAs for a More Sustainable Future
 

As these two project examples show, LCAs can be targeted to answer specific questions and meet specific needs. However, because each LCA is context-specific and fine-tuned to its application, one LCA cannot be compared to another. To manage this limitation, ClimeCo’s standard practice is to use conservative assumptions and to be transparent with methodologies, ensuring trustworthy, well-documented LCA results that align with reality.   

Whether you are looking to enhance a product or process, develop sustainability marketing claims, or meet regulatory or reporting requirements, ClimeCo has the expertise in applying LCAs to support informed decision-making across these areas. 


About the Authors

Gary Yoder is a Vice President at ClimeCo, providing environmental compliance services to many clients. He specializes in the complexities of air quality compliance but also supports ClimeCo’s sustainability projects and initiatives. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography/Pre-Meteorology from Ohio University and a Master of Science degree in Meteorology from North Carolina State University. 

Jaskaran Sidhu is an Analyst on ClimeCo’s Sustainability, Policy, and Advisory team based in Toronto. Jaskaran’s work focuses on life cycle analysis and carbon impact quantification for ClimeCo’s corporate clients. Jaskaran holds a Master of Engineering in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Panjab University. 

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo a Top-Level Sponsor at North American Carbon World (NACW) Virtual Conference

ClimeCo is passionate about making the world a better place. We are a proud sponsor of the 2021 North American Carbon World (NACW) Conference and are ready to help you reach your net-zero goals.  Watch our NACW video below to learn more. 

 

ClimeCo is honored to be a Platinum Sponsor of the 2021 NACW Virtual Conference! This year’s conference will explore the progress of climate policy, carbon markets, climate finance, and natural climate solutions in North America.

ClimeCo will also be participating in two sessions during the conference. Our Chief Business Officer, Derek Six, will be speaking at the “Building a Larger Carbon Credit Market from Within” plenary session on April 27 at 10:30 AM PST, and our Program Development Director, Lauren Mechak, will be speaking on the “Opportunities to Expand Climate Mitigation Via New Offset Protocols” panel on April 28 at 11 AM PST.

About ClimeCo 

ClimeCo is a respected advisor, transaction facilitator, and trader of environmental commodity market products and related services. We specialize in voluntary carbon, regulated carbon, renewable energy credits, plastics credits, and regional criteria pollutant trading programs.  Complimenting these programs is a team of professionals skilled in providing sustainability program management services, and developing and financing of GHG abatement and mitigation systems.

For more information or to discuss how ClimeCo can drive value for your organization, contact us at 484.415.0501, info@climeco.com, or through our website climeco.com. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using our handle, @ClimeCo.

A Chat About Sustainability

A Chat About Sustainability

A Chat About Sustainability


by Kendall Bedford, Project Manager | March 31, 2021


Background

This blog flourished while two ClimeCo colleagues sat down to enjoy a virtual cup of joe while discussing a topic that inspires them – Sustainability.

Long-time Project Manager (and part-time master’s student), Kendall Bedford, and her team leader, Emily Damon, VP of Sustainability, Policy and Advisory discussed what they love about sustainability and what they see in the marketplace. Their responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.



A Journey in Sustainability

To some, “Sustainability” can be a loaded word due to its multiple definitions and implications in the business world. For myself, it simply implies an opportunity to ensure longevity within our society for our peers, our planet, and our work. As a young professional and master’s student, these topics are meaningful to me. Through the work I am currently doing at ClimeCo, and Sustainability’s intersection with Business, which I am studying at UPenn, I hope to become a future leader in this space and help to unite various priorities and people while working to create real progress under a shared goal.

Today, I am speaking to a leader who is impacting the sustainability field, and one I am lucky to call my teammate, Emily Damon. Below, Emily and I discuss her previous work in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) space and why she continues to enjoy it, the challenges she encounters, and how this space has evolved and will continue to change over time.

Kendall: So, let’s start off with you telling me a little bit about yourself and why you chose to build a career in the sustainability field.

Emily:  I suppose the short answer is … *laughs* …frisbee. I played competitive ultimate frisbee for most of my life, and I chose my college so that I could play for one of the best women’s teams. Then I chose my major based on my teammates. Many of them were majoring in Earth Systems, an interdisciplinary degree with a focus on climate change. I liked science and cared about climate change, so I gave that a try. I ended up liking the engineering approach to climate change even more, so I shifted over partway through. I have stayed in this field because I’m making an impact, learning new things, and working with teams. The daily work gives me a steady drip of optimism for the future.

Kendall:  I completely get that. As someone who is in school for this subject now, it’s nice preparing to work in an evolving field! You’ve been working in this space for a significant amount of time, how has your perspective on ESG work changed?

Emily:  When I finished my degree, I felt that the solutions for climate change were clear. Over time, I have come to appreciate that seeing the optimal solution is only half the battle. Getting very-human business mechanisms to change is hard, slow, and important work. It can feel sluggish, but I think it’s the kind of change that sticks around.

Kendall:  What about the field itself – how have you seen that develop over time? Do you think the changes have been for the better?

Emily:  When I first started out doing this work, I was often supporting a smaller, independent sustainability department within organizations. Within the last 4-5 years, their ties to the rest of the company, especially to the C-Suite, have grown significantly. I think that’s a wonderful thing! It acknowledges that the drivers for sustainability are more significant, and the benefits of pursuing sustainability are more obvious.

Kendall:  I love that! Buy-in from executive leadership and company board members is something we discuss in class all the time; it’s so important because it offers credibility to the work the sustainability teams are doing and can even help garner more support from stakeholders.

Emily:  You know, without the ties to the C-Suite, smaller teams could sometimes be more nimble, at least when it came to things like measuring impacts, reporting, and making small commitments. But the connections to the leadership became essential when those sustainability teams were ready to change the organization’s behavior and needed funding for projects. As connections to leadership strengthen, processes change and new governance takes shape. It can sometimes seem as if things have slowed down, but it’s usually just a phase of growing pains. It’s an interesting dynamic! *laughs*

Kendall:  When it comes to sustainability and communication, especially now that you get to work with more organizations with a higher-level team, there are many different definitions for sustainability floating around, and it can be a “triggering” term for some. How do you level the playing field and communicate sustainability (the idea) to your teams and clients?

Emily:  I start with a very broad definition and with the understanding that any company I’m working with probably has its own, so I’m flexible. ESG is what I see typically falling under a company’s sustainability umbrella. To me, it’s a logical review of everything a company touches. So, what are our impacts on the planet (E) and on people (S), and how have we set up our structures and processes to ensure we can be improving those impacts (G)?

Kendall:  That being said, something I’ve heard is that it’s a bit harder for companies to wrap their head around certain aspects of ESG work. In your experience, what has been the hardest concept for a business to learn about and improve on?

Emily:  This is one with a lot of variety. It’s a common story to get on the phone with someone who started out working in an environmental role and then had a sustainability role pushed their way. That trajectory can leave companies with a blind spot regarding stakeholder’s “S” and “G” expectations.

Kendall:  What do you recommend to those who find themselves in this position?

Emily:  Even when companies have things like great employee training programs or hiring practices designed to increase workforce diversity, these initiatives aren’t always linked with the sustainability program. One thing that can often help a company in this position is a materiality assessment, a structured process for looking at a wide range of possible sustainability topics and determining the company’s priorities based on a diverse set of stakeholder perspectives.

Kendall:  Why do you think ClimeCo is uniquely positioned to participate in this kind of work?

Emily:  Oh, I think ClimeCo is in an amazing position to help companies with sustainability! Companies have a lot that they need to be doing right now, from communicating their progress or measuring their impacts to creating new strategies and executing them across the ESG space. What’s unique to ClimeCo is that we can support companies through more of these steps than other firms can. We have teams that advise, measure, and communicate, but also teams that can execute by developing emission reduction projects or transacting environmental commodities. It’s a natural progression! Many companies are doing each of those things, but none do all three as well as we do.

Closing Thoughts

In the classroom and at the office, Sustainability has been an almost constant discussion subject for me within the past year. In speaking with Emily, not only was I able to validate some of my suspicions about how broad-reaching and impactful the ESG field can be, but I was able to confirm my beliefs about the exciting work I have gotten to do at ClimeCo.  In my (almost) four years of working here, the idea of “we can do it all, and do it well” has rung true. Even more so now, I am exceptionally excited about everything that the team, and Emily with her expertise and passion, will be able to accomplish in this space.

To find out more about the ClimeCo’s Sustainability, Policy and Advisory team’s great work, please contact us by visiting, www.climeco.com.


About the Author

Kendall Bedford started off at ClimeCo in 2017 specializing in managing the data associated with ClimeCo’s extensive network of biogas destruction projects. She now dedicates her expertise to the team in the form of assisting with Sustainability consulting work and working closely with the environmental crediting process. She is currently pursuing a dual degree Master’s in Environmental Studies and MBA at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

ClimeCo Expands Sustainability Services with the Hire of Emily Damon

ClimeCo Expands Sustainability Services with the Hire of Emily Damon

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
CONTACT
Nancy Marshall, Corporate Marketing Director
484.415.7603 or nmarshall@climeco.com

ClimeCo Expands Sustainability Services with the Hire of Emily Damon

January 14, 2020 (Boyertown, PA) – ClimeCo announces the expansion of its sustainability services, launching a dedicated sustainability and ESG team. The team is joined by Emily Damon, who, prior to joining ClimeCo, led the North American ESG Sustainability practice for a multinational, 7,000-person consulting firm. The team brings cross-sectoral expertise in sustainability reporting, tracking, risk management, target-setting, and ESG strategy.

“Our customers are seeking advice on ESG as pressure mounts from their board, shareholders, and consumers to be more sustainable,” says Bill Flederbach, President and CEO of ClimeCo. “As expectations intensify, companies are finding them increasingly complex to navigate, so it was a natural step for us to add Emily to our sustainability team. The experience and skillset she brings to the team is key to keeping our customers on top of this challenge.”

Damon will serve as Vice President and leader of the Sustainability, Policy and Advisory team. She specializes in ESG performance and disclosure. Her work spans reporting, materiality assessment, rating and ranking optimization, and risk assessment. She also has deep expertise in corporate climate strategy, including greenhouse gas accounting, target-setting, abatement strategy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

“The growth we’ve seen in sustainability demands on companies continues to accelerate,” says Damon. “We help our clients turn what can be a headache into an opportunity to improve performance. This expanded ESG team, along with ClimeCo’s net-zero experts, is in a unique position to help our clients become sustainability leaders.”

Damon holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She has spent over a dozen years in sustainability consulting. Her work has spanned many industries, including retail, apparel/fashion/footwear, real estate, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, energy & extractives, industrial processing, and logistics.  She loves a good challenge, whether it’s a spreadsheet or stakeholder, and is proud to support ClimeCo’s mission — making a difference today for a better world tomorrow.

About ClimeCo

ClimeCo is a respected advisor, transaction facilitator, and trader of environmental commodity market products. We specialize in regulated carbon, regional criteria pollutant trading programs, voluntary markets, sustainability, and project development and financing of GHG abatement and mitigation systems. For more information or to discuss how ClimeCo can drive value for your organization, contact us at 484.415.0501, info@climeco.com, or through our website climeco.com. 

ClimeCo Makes Strategic Investment in EarthUP, Inc., an Innovative Sustainability Solutions Company

ClimeCo Makes Strategic Investment in EarthUP, Inc., an Innovative Sustainability Solutions Company

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
CONTACT
Nancy Marshall, Corporate Marketing Director
484.415.7603 or nmarshall@climeco.com

ClimeCo Makes Strategic Investment in EarthUP, Inc., an Innovative Sustainability Solutions Company


Boyertown, PA, November 4, 2020
– ClimeCo is pleased to announce that it has purchased a minority stake in EarthUP, Inc. (EarthUP.eco), a recent start-up focused on providing web-based sustainability solutions for employers and their employees. EarthUP provides effective environmental tips, rebates, and products to individuals, and a platform for their employers to encourage them in these efforts.  This platform gives employers the ability to measure and report emissions related to their employees, bridging a key information gap in their companies’ understanding of their full environmental impact.  ClimeCo (ClimeCo.com) will provide environmental solutions to EarthUP and is excited to support such an innovative concept. 

“In light of the shift of many employees to telecommuting over the past seven months, understanding employee greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts have never been more significant for employers,” says Derek Six, ClimeCo’s Chief Business Officer.  “This shift enabled us to see that the employee-employer relationship doesn’t necessarily end at the exit door of the business.  The same ideas that help employees reduce their environmental impact also contribute to cost savings and improved health, productivity, and employee retention. EarthUP’s proposal to create a partnership between businesses and their employees is a revelation.” 

ClimeCo has many clients who are doing their best to address their corporate environmental impacts, and this exciting new tool will help them to engage with their employees.  For individuals, EarthUP provides tips to reduce emissions, traffic, energy, waste, and water, and offers incentives they can use to improve their living environments at home.  The unique part about EarthUP’s platform is it allows employees and employers to work together to quantify and address environmental impacts.

“At EarthUP, we believe that by solving sustainability problems, we solve business problems”, says Stephen Bay, EarthUp’s CEO.  “We are confident this truth is magnified when companies involve their employees, and we are looking for corporate partners to be leaders in proving this.” 

EarthUP is currently conducting its pilot phase and expects to launch its public version in January.  The web-based offering is expected to be a “freemium” product, with firms gaining access by subscription to enhanced reporting capabilities.  EarthUP is currently allowing organizations to sign up via our website (https://www.earthup.eco/landing-page/home_organizations) to join the waiting list.  Organizations that sign up before the launch date will get first access to the platform and will receive an enhanced dashboard at no additional cost.

With this investment, ClimeCo joins several other key investors, including Techquity (Techquity.ai), a founding investor that brings technology strategy expertise to the venture.  Techquity’s expertise was a significant factor in ClimeCo’s decision to make this investment in EarthUP.



About ClimeCo

ClimeCo is an Inc. 5000 company that is a respected advisor, transaction facilitator, and trader of environmental commodity market products. Specialized expertise in regulated carbon, regional criteria pollutant trading programs, voluntary markets, and project development and financing of GHG abatement and mitigation systems complement ClimeCo’s diverse portfolio. For more information or to discuss how ClimeCo can drive your organization’s value, contact us at 484.415.0501, info@climeco.com, or through our website ClimeCo.com.

About EarthUP

EarthUP’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy by encouraging organizations to involve their employees, members, and customers in their sustainability mission.  Their platform is a portal that makes it easy for employers to connect with their employees and identify ways to improve the physical spaces of their home offices and living spaces, resulting in increased productivity and fewer sick-days while saving money.  For more information, contact them at 425.442.6140, info@earthup.eco, or through their website, EarthUP.eco.

About Techquity

Techquity is a long-term investment and technology partner that brings technology strategy, expertise, and execution to companies that seek to grow while changing the world.  Customized solutions containing a combination of advisory and operating roles, software development, and talent acquisition help produce technology equity for clients.  For more information, visit them at Techquity.ai.