EcOrient 2015, the 4th International Conference for Environmental Technologies, Sustainability and Clean Energy, “EcOrient” was held on Wednesday, June 3 at “Biel” in downtown Beirut. The conference was organized by IFP Group in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris (CCI). The conference was supported by the Order of Engineers and Architects of Beirut, the Lebanese Solar Energy Society (LSES), the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation, and the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC), as well as the American Society for Heating and Refrigeration – Lebanese branch, and the Arab Sustainability Association.
A panelist at the conference, Mr. Naji Tannous, Green building consultant, founding member of LGBC and Business Unit Manager at ARZ Lebanon Building Rating System, talked about Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as one of techniques of environmental impact assessment. For extra elaboration, ifpinfo had the following interview with Mr. Naji Tannous.
1. When and how the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) was introduced?
LCA had its beginnings in the 60s of the last century, many LCA studies relating to global use of resources were engaged in the process of preparing for the club of Rome report “the limits to growth” which was published in 1972. In 1969 an LCA study for Coca Cola arguably laid the foundations to LCA methodology as we know it today.
2. Why it is called life cycle assessment and what are its goals and uses?
This approach considers the environmental impacts of a product or service from the stage of collecting raw materials necessary to manufacture the product or carry out the service, to production, use and disposal, thus the name life cycle.
The aim of LCA is to assess the emissions and waste resulting from the product or service over its life cycle thus making it possible for people to reduce such waste through better product design, more rational use and recycling or re-use when product is no more useful to users.
3. Is LCA a one type technique or we have many variants?
LCA is one technique of environmental impact assessment among many others, there is for example the input-output approach, the Environmental Impact Assessment approach, the environmental performance evaluation, risk assessment…
LCA may not always be the appropriate tool for environmental impact studies however no doubt it is the most holistic and encompassing.
4. What is the relation between LCA and ISO?
ISO was the first organization to standardize LCA, it developed ISO 14040 in 1997 followed by four other complementary standards, currently two standards cover the LCA practice namely ISO 14040-2006 and ISO 14044-2006, these two standards are currently being revised and they may be merged into one standard ISO 14044.
5. What are the phases of LCA procedure?
Basically 4 phases,
– Goal and scope definition
– Impact assessment
Sometimes an LCA study may not include the impact assessment phase thus limiting itself to inventory. In this case it is an LCI study
6. What is life-cycle inventory and why is followed by impact assessment?
It is an inventory of input/output data with regard to the system being studied. It involves collection of the data necessary to meet the goals of the defined study. The impact assessment phase uses the inventory phase data to evaluate the impact on the environment, this is done using characterization models, these are dose response functions meaning that if you emit so many kgs of a toxic substance how will this substance spread in the environment (its fate) and what will be the impact on the environment.
7. Is LCA an accepted and used technique in Lebanon?
LCA has still to be developed in this country, it is taught in university at a very basic level.
8. Which organizations use and encourage the use of LCA in Lebanon?
None till the present time, the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC), may try to apply LCA when developing its building rating systems but this is still to be implemented. I am personally trying to establish an NGO that has the mission to spread LCA practice in Lebanon (Wish me good luck) many environmental requirements on industry are already being considered by developed countries, these requirements involve LCA methodology to be applied, if these requirements are applied to imported products, then Lebanese industrialists may have a hard time exporting to developed countries in the foreseeable future (2020 horizon).
9. What more should be done to protect and sustain the environment in Lebanon?
Everything, we are practically doing nothing at this stage, In order to do something first you need awareness, this is critically lacking, then you need an effective civil society this is also disastrously lacking, you may hear NGOs raising voices here and there but they are more concerned with whitewashing than effective results on the ground, also initiatives are fragmented and small scale.
Lebanese need to talk and argue a bit less and act more and for God’s sake get politics and sectarianism out of their heads!