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Development of a method for assessing location characteristics concerning biodiversity in LCA

: Brethauer, Laura; Lindner, Jan Paul; Wehner, Daniel

China International Conference Center for Science and Technology -CICCST-, Beijing:
26th International Conference on Efficiency, Cost, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Impact of Energy Systems, ECOS 2013. Proceedings : Guilin, China, 16 July 2013 through 19 July 2013
Beijing: CICCST, 2013
11 pp.
International Conference on Efficiency, Cost, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Impact of Energy Systems (ECOS) <26, 2013, Guilin>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IBP ()

With the growing environmental awareness in society, the demand for sustainable products and processes increases. One of the methods developed to quantify the environmental impacts of products and processes is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). In LCA, products and processes with the same function can be compared to each other, it also identifies the environmentally relevant steps in a product's life cycle. The method of LCA already covers many of the environmental impacts characterized by chemical cause-effect relationships. However the quantification of effects on the environment from land use processes, especially their influence on biodiversity, is not yet sufficiently considered in LCA. Due to the history of LCA the method was developed to be spatially and temporally independent. However land use is an inherently areal activity whose implementation into the LCA method cannot be made without a location reference. Furthermore, to implement biodiversity aspects into the LCA method, a quantification method for biodiversity is needed which is additionally made difficult by only a very abstract definition existing. Some approaches how to define and quantify the quality of land and its biodiversity were already made and are considered in the paper. They all agree in the point that the impacts of land use processes depend on area, duration and the difference of the land quality which is also defined in an official land use framework. How much the land quality is influenced by a land use process depends on the current location characteristics and the land use type. This work focuses on the development of an assessment of location characteristics for the region a given land use process is located in concerning the impacts on biodiversity. This method was developed particularly for the use in a first biodiversity screening for land use processes in already existing LCA datasets and not for exact quantification. With its help, the already foreseeable effort of the implementation of biodiversity data sets to the existing LCA databases can be reduced. In the development of the method other suggestions of the definition of indicators and how to quantify and finally weight them are considered. Furthermore a mapping of the terrestrial world and the related database are used as a basis to develop a location factor which assesses the conservation value of the biodiversity on the respective land by area, species numbers and conservation status. The paper deals with the characteristics of biodiversity and takes into account the specific difficulties to integrate location-dependent processes into LCA.