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COMPARISON OF BOTTOM-UP AND TOP-DOWN APPROACHES TO CALCULATING THE WATER FOOTPRINTS OF NATIONS

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      Most cited references 39

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      System boundary selection in life-cycle inventories using hybrid approaches.

      Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method for evaluating the environmental impacts of products holistically, including direct and supply chain impacts. The current LCA methodologies and the standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) impose practical difficulties for drawing system boundaries; decisions on inclusion or exclusion of processes in an analysis (the cutoff criteria) are typically not made on a scientific basis. In particular, the requirement of deciding which processes could be excluded from the inventory can be rather difficult to meet because many excluded processes have often never been assessed by the practitioner, and therefore, their negligibility cannot be guaranteed. LCA studies utilizing economic input-output analysis have shown that, in practice, excluded processes can contribute as much to the product system under study as included processes; thus, the subjective determination of the system boundary may lead to invalid results. System boundaries in LCA are discussed herein with particular attention to outlining hybrid approaches as methods for resolving the boundary selection problem in LCA. An input-output model can be used to describe at least a part of a product system, and an ISO-compatible system boundary selection procedure can be designed by applying hybrid input-output-assisted approaches. There are several hybrid input-output analysis-based LCA methods that can be implemented in practice for broadening system boundary and also for ISO compliance.
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        Water footprints of nations: Water use by people as a function of their consumption pattern

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          Assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption in LCA.

          A method for assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption was developed. This method considers damages to three areas of protection: human health, ecosystem quality, and resources. The method can be used within most existing life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods. The relative importance of water consumption was analyzed by integrating the method into the Eco-indicator-99 LCIA method. The relative impact of water consumption in LCIA was analyzed with a case study on worldwide cotton production. The importance of regionalized characterization factors for water use was also examined in the case study. In arid regions, water consumption may dominate the aggregated life-cycle impacts of cotton-textile production. Therefore, the consideration of water consumption is crucial in life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies that include water-intensive products, such as agricultural goods. A regionalized assessment is necessary, since the impacts of water use vary greatly as a function of location. The presented method is useful for environmental decision-support in the production of water-intensive products as well as for environmentally responsible value-chain management.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Economic Systems Research
            Economic Systems Research
            Informa UK Limited
            0953-5314
            1469-5758
            December 2011
            December 2011
            : 23
            : 4
            : 371-385
            10.1080/09535314.2011.638276
            © 2011

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