On May 8th CIRAIG, Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services, announced the official launch of the International Industrial Chair in LCA methodology. The initial budget for the project totals $4.5 million over five years. Funding will be provided by industrial and financial partners such as Alcan, Bell Canada, Cascades, le Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Hydro-Québec, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as Arcelor-Mittal, Électricité de France / Gaz de France, Total, and Veolia Environnement, which will each invest $450,000.
"The work of the LCA Chair will spur and support voluntary corporate actions towards sustainable production and consumption", explains co-chairholder, Réjean Samson. "The Chair will provide additional tools to reduce the potential environmental impacts of corporate products and services, enabling businesses to remain competitive and take full responsibility for their actions on the social, economic, and environmental levels. Internationally recognized, LCA is a very stimulating and promising field of research".
With the creation of this leading fundamental research and case study program in the energy, telecommunications, pulp and paper, financial services, mining and metallurgy, environmental, and personal hygiene product sectors, the work carried out by this new Chair will generate new knowledge in the life cycle field and lead to the implementation of applicable management tools that are adapted to the specific requirements of industries and governments.
One of the partner case studies consists in comparing different work settings including conventional full-time and part-time work, as well as telecommuting, in order to identify which offers the best environmental option using an LCA study. This could provide great results and numbers to help promote tele-commuting. LCA is especially useful in providing managers with real numbers.
"Assessing the consequences related to telecommuting entails taking into account not only the avoided displacements by the employee, but also the resources used or avoided by this employee. Is there a vacant office in the building when the employee works from home" Is there duplication in material resources" Is the increase in energy consumption significant" These are all issues which must be addressed so as to determine the favorable conditions for telecommuting from an environmental standpoint" explains Louise Deschênes, co-chairholder.
The Chair will also train over 30 students at the masters and doctoral levels. This highly skilled workforce will be among the valuable resources that the research will generate. At the international level, members will work closely with experts involved in the Life Cycle Initiative of the United Nations Environment Program and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (UNEP-SETAC). Treehugger will anxiously await results from this exciting initiative. Hopefully more to come soon. Visit the Industrial Chair Website (at the time of this post the English version did not work)