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May 2018
Sustainability News and Views Newsletter

Quantified Uncertainties in Comparative Life Cycle Assessment: What Can Be Concluded?

A recent study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology reviews different methods for interpretation uncertainty in comparative LCAs. The study was led by Angelica Mendoza at CML in Leiden University. Our senior analyst, Valentina Prado, who co-authored this article, summarizes the study for us. The article is open access and can be accessed via this link. 

What can we learn from uncertainty analysis results in a comparative LCA? This article reviews and applies five methods found in the literature designed to interpret uncertainty results in comparative contexts. This study provides LCA practitioners a guide and a platform to select and implement these methods.Quanatified Uncertainties in Life Cycle Assessment

It was found that there are two types of purposes: confirmatory and exploratory. Confirmatory purposes aim at determining statistical difference. These methods provide a binary type answer. It is focused in determining the existence of a difference no matter how big or small as long as it meets the chosen significance threshold (known as the P value).  This can used for comparative assertions specifically footprints, to determine whether a product has indeed has a greater impact than another. 

The other application of these methods is for exploratory purposes, to evaluate tradeoffs. The result of these approaches is a spectrum ranging from “most different”, to “least different”  impact categories. Note that they do not establish significance. Rather it is used to identify those aspects that are most different among options. 

Results show that methods agree with each other most of the time, with just a few exceptions which are due to two key properties: accounting for common uncertainties and accounting for the magnitude of the differences. 

For confirmatory purposes, the modified NHST appears to be the most developed method as it accounts for the effect of sample size in the results (useful for simulation data) and incorporates a threshold to discard small differences. For exploratory purposes, there is no single method that takes into account the two properties mentioned above. The choice is between discernibility and the overlap area, out of which, authors recommend discernibility as they prioritize accounting for common uncertainties.

To read the full publication

Free Webinar, Thursday, May 17 - 1:00 pm EST

brown bag webinar logoSupporting Central American Smallholder Growers Toward Better Futures: Sustainability Return On Investment (S-ROI) of Vista Volcanes's Capilla Malla Inocua program

Presenter:  Caroline Taylor

Caroline will discuss assessing the impact of investing in small businesses for sustainable development and social good as part of the large-scale US State Department investment in La Red de Innovacion e Impacto supporting Latin American micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) using Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI).

Follow this link for a complete description of this webinar.


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International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (ISSST) Logo

Join us at ISSST for this Pre-conference Workshop:
"Designing a Sustainability Course for Impact Investors"

Tuesday — June 26, 2018 9:00 am
Hotel Henry — Buffalo, NY

Taught by Lise Laurin and Scott Matthews (virtual participation) 

Ever look at the stocks in a social impact investment fund and say to yourself, “what were they thinking?” Or go to an impact investing conference and hear people gushing over a soy-based product (because if it’s bio-based it can’t have any negative effects)? While things are slowly getting better, impact investors have a lot to learn when it comes to answering “what is sustainable?” The goal of this 3-hour workshop is to design a course targeting toward impact investors and giving them the knowledge that will help them make better choices in sustainable investments. 

Who should attend?
Educators and other sustainability professionals interested in improving the quality of impact investing

Workshop Goal:
Develop a curriculum for "Sustainability for Impact Investors" including learning objectives, who should attend, agenda, etc.

Learn More at ISSST


Working With The Younger Generation On World Water Day

In observance of the World Water Day, March 22, 2018, the municipality of Pereira in Colombia visited 23 rural primary schools to talk about efficient use of water resources and raise awareness about the local watersheds. This initiative was led by the Secretary of Rural Development and Environmental Management (SDGRA), which delegated one staff member to each school. As part of the activities more than 500 kids were asked to participate in a drawing contest to share their learnings.  


Sustainability Training Courses

FREE Impact Assessment Course, available in (PDF)

On Site (Portsmouth, NH)

June 19, 2018 - 9 AM to 5 PM - Sustainability (S-ROI) Facilitation Workshop

November 13, 2018 — 9 AM to 5 PM — Full-Day Master Class:
Sustainability (S-ROI) Facilitation Workshop

Boot Camp Fall 2018 — October 16 through October 18, 2018, follow the link for full details

  Combine Business and Pleasure — Take Our Boot Camp Training, Then Enjoy Portsmouth NH

Things To Do in Portsmouth, NH



May 2-3, 2018 - Practical LCA in EarthSmart,10:00 am - 1:00 pm EDT (14:00-17:00 UTC)

May 15-16, 2018- Advanced Life Cycle Assessment LCA Interpretation 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm EDT (17:00-20:00 UTC)

Free! May 24, 2018 - One Hour Intro to S-ROI, 1:00 pm EDT (17:00 UTC)


June 19, 2018- Sustainable Return On Investment 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm EDT (17:00-20:00 UTC)

Download our Registration Form in (PDF) today, to attend any of these classes.

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