Life cycle assessment in spatial planning – A procedure for addressing systemic impacts

Bidstrup M, Pizzol M, Schmidt J H (2015)

Publication info

Journal of Cleaner Production 91:136-144


Spatial planning establishes conditions for societal patterns of production and consumption. However, the assigned Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) tend to have a too narrow focus. In particular, there is a need for applying a system perspective in SEA, extending assessment beyond the spatial boundaries of a plan to further focus on global, indirect and cumulative impacts. These impacts are referred to as “systemic impacts”. This study proposes a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) procedure which can be adopted in SEAs of various types of planning. The procedure represents a first step towards operationalising LCA in SEA by adjusting LCA methodology to focus on the ways planners and planning processes can influence the environmental impacts of interconnected activities. The proposed procedure was tested on a case study of Danish extraction planning, and it was found to generate new knowledge for decision support. The procedure enabled identification of key systemic impacts, as well as it enabled formulation of recommendations for how to address these impacts in planning processes. On a more general level, this article demonstrates an application of LCA which until now has received little attention, and it highlights the role of spatial planners in facilitating cleaner production.


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