Thursday, 3 July 2014

New publication analyses the LCA "critical review" process

Recently accepted for publication in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.

Critical Review: A summary of the current state-of-practice

Mary Ann Curran, Consultant, LCA & Sustainability, BAMAC, Ltd., Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Steven B. Young, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), Canada


Purpose Much collective wisdom and experience has been gained as an increasing number of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) reviews are conducted. However, specifics on how and when to conduct critical review of LCA studies are still lacking. Toward this need, a technical session entitled ‘LCA Critical Review’ was held during the Life Cycle Management (LCM) conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, 26 August 2013. The goal of the session was to have experts address LCA critical review as well as engage attendees in discussing gaps in the current guidance and how the review process can be improved.

Method  The LCM session consisted of six presentations followed by open discussion with all session attendees. This paper begins with a review of the current state-of-the-practice in LCA critical review (CR) followed by a summary of the LCM session. It concludes with suggestions for how the newly drafted technical specification, ISO TS 14071 Critical review processes and reviewer competencies, can be improved as it is being developed.

Results and Discussion ISO TS 14071 promises to provide additional guidance to move the practice forward. But at only eight pages in length, its potential effectiveness appears moderate. Additional detailed guidance is needed to move the critical review process toward increased uniformity and clarity of practice, for example, when critical review is necessary.

Conclusions A session on LCA Critical review is planned to be held during the Life Cycle Management 2015 conference which will occur in Bordeaux, France ( Discussion on these issues related to LCA review will be continued.

Keywords: critical review, comparative assertion, ISO 14040, ISO 14044, ISO TS 14071


Curran, M.A. and Young, S.B. (2014), Critical review: A summary of the current state-of-practiceInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment