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Life Cycle Assessment at the Center

Life Cycle Assessment at the Center

Duke graduates students who are working towards the two-year Certificate in Sustainable Systems Analysis at the Nicholas School of the Environment are actively exploring how Process Life Cycle Assessment Modeling can be used for consumer products.

During their first-year the graduate teams take LCA and Sustainable Systems classes.  As part of their lab, they use Center for Sustainability & Commerce facilities to “deconstruct” products in order to document the different material properties of the product as well as mass of the components. 

The teams then go about working with industry and scientific resources to construct a Life Cycle Inventory of the product for the resource extraction, manufacturing, distribution, consumer use and post-consumer use life cycle phases.  This then allows them to undertake a detailed Life Cycle Assessment Model.  Students then “Re-Think & Re-Design” the products to lower environmental impacts while potentially improving the functionality of the product.  In many cases detailed business case arguments are described to support organizational changes. Students also consider "up cycling" designs that would reuse the orriginal product for another high value purupose. 

This training provides a strong platform for the students to build-upon as they support global companies as part of their Capstone Projects and internships.  Many of our corporate partners are using LCA to support R&D research, sales and marketing efforts as well as working to reduce risks and costs with supply chains. 

If your organization is interested in working with a Duke student team, contact Dr. Golden at Jay "dot" Golden "at" Duke.edu

Poster presentations from this year's class are available here: