Successfully communicating LCA results
is key in supporting decision making. The following section provides an
overview of what should be included when communicating the results of an LCA
study. When communicating LCA results it is often recommended to follow
requirements detailed in ISO 14044. This may, however, not be practical when
the goal of the assessment is to support planning process stages. The following
sections present the information that should be included when LCA results will
support an infrastructure project.
practitioner, as well as target audience
Together with providing information on
who has carried out the LCA, specifying the target audience provides a clearer
understanding of how the results are communicated.
tool and database
LCA tools and associated databases have
a significant impact on the results of an LCA. This is true even when the same
set of standards and guidelines is followed, as results may vary due to the
specific methodological choices that are built in to an LCA tool, such as what
parts of each life cycle stage are included. Also, generic LCA data sets are
developed with specific assumptions that may vary between databases.
Including the actual planning process
stage of the LCA study when communicating results allows for a clearer understanding
of the methodological choices made.
It is recommended to include the goal
and scope of the LCA study when communicating LCA results. This should include
the functional unit, the product system level and the selected assessment period.
Expertise of LCA calculations is needed
for presenting the results and providing a recommendation based on the findings
of the LCA study. To provide useful decision support, it is recommended that
the presentation of LCA results is followed by a recommendation based on the
findings of the study. An LCA expert can interpret the numbers in the results,
evaluate impact categories and provide a clear recommendation on what
alternatives would be preferable from an environmental point of view. As LCA
results may be challenging to interpret for a non-LCA expert, providing a
recommendation based on the study results shifts the task of result
interpretation to the LCA practitioner or the Project manager and ensures that
the information reaching decision makers is clear.
Presenting the results in a clear short
document where the front worksheet covers points 6.1 to 6.4 is recommended.
Subsequent worksheets can present the results in diagram and table form and
finally provide a recommendation statement. Depending on the audience,
developing a more extensive and even ISO 14044 compliant report may be more
suitable. The format and delivery of results should be agreed upon in advance
together with the intended audience.