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Enhancing the Economic Dimension of LCA + DEA Studies for Sustainability Assessment
Published: 06 November 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability
Abstract: The combination of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) has been recently proposed as a methodological framework for the sustainability assessment and benchmarking of multiple similar entities. While important benefits are associated with this combined methodology (e.g., quantification of performance indicators and eco-efficiency verification), some underdeveloped aspects need to be addressed. In this respect, further efforts are required so that the LCA + DEA methodology succeeds in coping with the different sustainability dimensions in balance. In particular, previous studies pinpoint the need for further exploring the economic dimension of this type of assessment. Within this context, the present work presents different pathways to enhance the economic component of LCA + DEA studies. On the one hand, straightforward options for widening the economic scope of the LCA + DEA methodology include the calculation of economic savings and/or life-cycle costing indicators linked to the operational benchmarks calculated by the method. On the other hand, indirect pathways rely on the previous calculation of environmental or emergy benchmarks. Environmental benchmarks can be translated into economic terms through the monetization of externalities, while emergy benchmarks can be translated into market-driven indicators for the valuation of ecosystem services. These pathways (either separately or jointly) help boost the use of the LCA + DEA methodology for sustainability assessment.
Keywords: Benchmarking; data envelopment analysis; life cycle assessment