Urban Environmental Management
Cities, EMS and Everything
Putting up a Green Front
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Life Cycle Assessment and ISO 14001

It has been widely agrued that objectives of sustainable development can be achieved if organization-related environmental management (as embodied in the ISO 14001) is adopted along with product-related enviromental management (as embodied in ISO 14040's Life Cycle Assessment).

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) essentially calls for the compilation and examination of the inputs and outputs of materials and energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life cycle. 'Life Cycle' itself constitutes the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product or service system, from the extraction of natural resources to the final disposal.

Due to the complexity and diversity of organizations and services in an urban area, it may be difficult to adopt a single, unified approach to tackle environmental problems. It is becoming increasingly clear that unique local solutions and apporaches have to be developed for local situations and problems. Integrating and combining elements of LCA and elements of EMS into a comprehensive local environmental management plan is cost-effective because it permits individual solutions.

Modest and obvious organizational changes brought about by an EMS in the initial stages of its implementation (eg. through eco-balances) needs to be sustained on a long-term basis through additional tools that measure achieve and maintain continual improvement of the EMS. A key tool being proposed for this purpose is LCA. LCA as a more detialed and technically oriented assessment tool can help to broaden the EMS perspective by the life cycle and system view.

Source: Finkbeiner et al. "Analysis of the Potential for a Comprehensive Approaqch Towards LCA and EMS in Japan" International Journal of LCA. 4 (3) 1999, pp. 127-132

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org