F&ES 838b / 2018-2019

Environmental Product Life Cycle Assessment

Credits: 3

Spring 2019: O, M/T 4:00-5:20, Mon -Kroon G01; Tues-KBT C27


Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analytical method that aims to quantify potential environmental impacts along the entire life cycle of a product, from extraction or harvest of natural, mineral, or fossil resources through production, distribution, and consumption to final end-of-life disposal or reuse / recycling. LCA provides a quantitative evaluation of a wide range of environmental issues to avoid “burden shifting” between different life stages or different environmental concerns. Its primary applications include decision support in the context of design-for-environment programs and policy making as well as providing a science-based basis for environmental claims used for marketing products in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) settings.

The course will convey the general principles and relevant definitions of the LCA methodology as defined in the ISO 14040 series of standards and exemplify them through frequent reference to real-world case studies covering a wide array of industry sectors and product categories. The overall goal of the course is to provide the skills necessary to scope, manage, and scrutinize LCA studies in the business, consulting, or government sectors.

The class will be taught by Dr. Christoph Koffler, Technical Director Americas at thinkstep, an international sustainability consultancy with a strong focus on LCA. Dr. Koffler earned his PhD in the German automotive industry while working to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of LCA in the product development process. He is an active contributor and reviewer for relevant scientific publications, a Member of the Board of the American Center of Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA), the current Chair of SETAC North America’s Life Cycle Assessment Interest Group’s Steering Committee, and has actively contributed to the development of LCA-related ISO standards in the past.

In addition to the class, the students will receive training on an open source LCA software tool (“OpenLCA”) to provide them with the necessary resources to complete their class projects. The software tutorials and practice sessions will be held by Yale postdoctoral associate, Dr. Qingshi Tu, who will support the students in all software-related matters throughout the class.

It is recommended that students complete F&ES 884a - Industrial Ecology to provide a foundation for the LCA course. In addition, if constructing mass and energy balances, conducting numerical analyses, etc. are not familiar topics, it is also recommended that students complete F&ES - 762 - Applied Math for Environmental Studies.


limited to 16