We commonly hear about the so-called "carbon footprint". As is well known, this concept is a metric that calculates the total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions generated by an individual, an activity, a product or an organization measured in CO2 equivalent.
It is a popularized and more "familiar" unit of measurement in our daily lives, mainly because it is a calculation method that allows us to quantify the impact of global warming (as GHG emissions contribute to it) and the possible adoption of mitigating measures.
However, this analysis provides a "limited" view of the impact that human activity has on the planet. Our daily lives generate other environmental impacts that go beyond GHG emissions.
Hence, the need to adopt a broader prism when analyzing the different impacts on our environment, such as the so-called "environmental footprint", is becoming increasingly evident.
This indicator is based on a "multi-criteria" study that, through the calculation of different impact categories, makes it possible to understand environmental behavior and thus take actions to reduce it. Thanks to this 360º vision of each company´s activity, it is possible to identify the environmental performance involved and thus gain greater knowledge in order to take actions to reduce the environmental footprint.
During 2023, it is expected that this concept will increasingly take root not only among companies, but also among individuals themselves, as a way of understanding and taking into account how our daily activity has (to a greater or lesser extent) an impact on our world.
LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS OR "LCA".
As mentioned above, more and more companies and organizations are implementing calculation methods that measure the total impact of their products or services on the environment.
Hence, more and more organizations are internalizing and developing approaches based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) methodologies.
This type of studies allow to identify, evaluate and quantify in an iterative way the impact that a product, process, service or organization produces on the environment throughout its life cycle. This is why it is a tool that is increasingly valued and implemented by the different agents operating in the energy industry (or others).
Through this methodology, it is possible to know in a transversal way the environmental impact produced by an activity: from obtaining raw materials for the manufacture of a product to the end of its life, including other activities such as transportation, the production process itself or the distribution and marketing of the product or service, as well as its end of life.
Due to its potential and the capacity of understanding that this methodology offers in relation to the analyzed activity, it is increasingly considered a strategic decision making tool for companies since it allows to identify the critical aspects that must be modified from an environmental point of view. Moreover, such is the capillarity offered by this type of analysis that it can even help from other perspectives thanks to the knowledge generated (such as, for example, reducing costs based on the inputs observed in the production process).
For all these reasons, it is expected that these approaches will become increasingly important among companies this year. This is due in particular to their attractiveness in both industrial and business terms. After all, the results of this type of analysis make it possible to identify opportunities for improvement, provide strategic information for decision-making and establish action plans when designing (or redesigning) a product or service. All this with the consequent competitive advantage from a business perspective.
As mentioned above, LCA methodologies allow, among other things, to promote the design or redesign of products in a more sustainable way. Hence, they can be a key input for subsequent product definition processes and new methods such as the one known as "Design Thinking".
This approach proposes a scope that goes beyond traditional design: through it, the aim is not only to create a "practical" good or service for the end user, but also to take into account other factors such as economic, social and environmental factors.
All this thanks to being a process that facilitates the production of innovative ideas that respond to existing needs, based on creativity and innovation as pillars.
Despite being a concept born in 1969 and initially associated mainly with the world of consumption, more and more voices have highlighted its potential as a means to develop more sustainable products and services from the definition and research stage. This is due to the "framework" of work and evaluation proposed by this methodology, which is based on three main criteria: the feasibility of production techniques and methods, the associated economic feasibility and the desirability of end consumers.
This work scheme allows, if desired, to consider all those key aspects that in environmental terms must be taken into account in relation to the main stakeholders of a company or organization in order to achieve success in the three criteria mentioned above. This is why it is becoming an increasingly valued method for organizations to define their products, services or activities.