SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  6 October 2011
Volume 12 Issue 10

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Life Cycle Management 2011 Conference Draws Hundreds

Bruce Vigon, SETAC Scientific Affairs Manager

SETAC and its ten year collaboration with UNEP in our joint Life Cycle Initiative played a noteworthy part in the recent LCM2011 conference, where over 400 life cycle experts and users gathered in Berlin in late September. An excellent plenary session got the meeting off to a running start. Interesting and insightful presentations were provided by, among others, the German Deputy Minister for Environment showing how Life Cycle Management is being taken up by the government for policy options assessment and implementation; senior management of Volkswagen talking about incorporation of LCM (and LCA) into virtually all of their product development and design decisions; and the renowned economist Ernst von Weizs├Ącker making a compelling argument for materials efficiency and cascading usage at the core of a Factor Five world. Factor Five (amounting to 80% reduction in primary consumption) is thought by many to be the minimum needed for a sustainable world.

SETAC and UNEP also shared the plenary stage with the very visible launch of last February’s Pellston workshop publication on the Global Guidance Principles for LCA Databases. Guido Sonnemann, co-chair of the databases workshop provided a short overview of the process and the publication and announced to participants the availability of the Executive Summary in both print and electronic versions and the soon to be published full report. Scientific Affairs Manager and workshop co-chair Bruce Vigon gave a more in-depth technical presentation later in the meeting on the publication and the intended uses of the guidance principles.

The technical sessions are too numerous to list but kept with the theme of the meeting, “Towards Life Cycle Sustainability Management” and the orientation of LCM meeting to emphasize how decisions are made using life cycle approaches, more than on the details of how studies are done. Session topics spanned the range of areas from tools for supporting decisions for green buildings, LCM in the retail and food sectors, and biofuels to name a few. One aspect of the conference that required a considerable amount of early planning is the separate, formal publication of a full length book of selected papers. The book includes a paper titled “Life Cycle Management Capability: An Alternative Approach to Sustainability Assessment,” authored by the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative team (including Bruce Vigon, Allan Jensen and James Fava as SETAC member co-authors) that conducted the Capability Maturity model project last year.

The next conference will be in two years in Göteborg, Sweden with expectations it will be bigger and better than ever. The UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative expects to be well represented with launch of Phase 3 supporting LCA and LCM “mainstreaming” as a theme anticipated at the beginning of 2013.

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