Three Tips For Sharing Your LCA Results With Non-experts
LCA results can be difficult to understand for people not used to working with it. Yet your results can only be truly useful if the rest of your company understands their importance and impact. This article provides a few tips on how to best share your LCA results with non-experts.
It’s up to you, the LCA practitioner, to make sure that the results of a study are clear to the person who receives them. LCAs are based on a complex methodology that includes many technical choices and assumptions. In addition, it is challenging to interpret LCA results when you’re not familiar with the many different impact categories and steps of impact assessment. Add the uncertainty of the results to that picture, and it becomes clear that LCA results can be difficult to follow for people who don’t work with them on a daily basis.
A highly technical LCA report, while necessary for proper documentation, may not be the ideal form of communication outside of the LCA department. A presentation highlighting the main assumptions and results is often a big step in the right direction. There is, however, no single best way to communicate the results: it all depends on your audience. The following three tips may help you describe things from their perspective.
What Is The Question?
A good approach is to start by asking yourself why your audience needs the LCA. What do they intend to use the results for? Will the numbers be used for the company’s sustainability report? For ecodesign? For tracking the progress of your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Using your audience’s question as a starting point helps you communicate your LCA in a more practical and focused way.
Another tip is to show your audience where your company can really make a difference: to focus on the hotspots, both in the description of your goal and scope and in the results. While it’s worth mentioning which assumptions and methodological decisions the results are highly sensitive to, it may be okay to leave out the less significant technical details. The same goes for the results: if your audience wants to use the LCA for ecodesign, they are likely to be satisfied understanding the main contributors to the environmental impact. Some insight into how they can influence this will probably also be welcomed, so it is worth considering if you can provide them with the option to try a few different design scenarios.
The internal goals of the department or company can also provide you with an indication of what your audience is likely to be interested in. If your company has company-wide KPIs for reducing the carbon footprint and water depletion, these results will surely spark some interest. Of course, it is always important to show the full picture of multiple environmental impacts, but it doesn’t have to be your starting point.
In short, don’t overcomplicate your communication of the results, but focus on what’s important. This will allow the receivers of the results to use your LCA optimally.
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My background in industrial design made it clear to me that the current system of consumption and disposal cannot be maintained in the long run. I quickly became interested in quantifying sustainability, so that well-supported decisions can be made in our move towards a more sustainable world. LCA provides the ability to focus on the facts.