Sustainability Practice and Education on University Campuses and Beyond

Teaching Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to Graduate Students at The University of Toledo

Author(s): Defne Apul and Jay Devkota

Pp: 93-108 (16)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681084718117010009

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Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool for assessing the environmental impacts of a product or service throughout its life cycle. LCA is considered an important modeling tool for sustainability assessment and many universities are currently offering LCA courses. However, due to unavailability of established text books or approaches, it is difficult for an instructor to develop and teach an LCA course. The goal of this chapter was to share the experience from the University of Toledo in developing and teaching of an LCA course. A systematic approach based upon Fink’s taxonomy of learning was used in designing the course. The course was organized in ten learning modules: introduction to LCA, LCA steps, EIOLCA, process based LCA, computational structure of LCA, carbon footprint analysis, personal footprints, life cycle costing, LCA peer reviewed literature, and semester long project. Active learning methods were used throughout the semester with at least one assignment per module. The process based LCA module was taught via slides, manual matrix calculations, and use of the commercial GaBi LCA software. The LCA peer reviewed literature module included written and oral presentation assignments requiring students to evaluate the LCA aspects of the paper as well as technical writing and technical quality of the paper. The semester long project was taught using multiple steps and encompassed most of the course objectives identified earlier in the course design.

Keywords: Carbon footprint, GaBi, Graduate class, Learning modules, Life cycle assessment, Life cycle costing, Semester long project, Sustainability assessment.

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