Lifecycle Analysis and Carbon Footprinting

Typical greenhouse gas emissions from a wastewater treatment plant.

Lifecycle Analysis is an effective tool to evaluate alternative technologies. Here, various supplemental carbon addition alternatives are considered in terms of their non-renewable energy consumption.

An LCA of two energy recovery alternatives determined that energy generation with heat recovery would provide the greatest return on investment for the James A. Loughlin, Jr., WWTP.

Environmental impacts in a wide range of categories can be considered, including the greenhouse gas generation.

Traditional decision-making typically focuses on direct and indirect costs that appear on the balance sheet. The TCA model defines three additional cost types; contingent liabilities, and internal and external intangibles. While not typically accounted for on a balance sheet, these are very real costs to a company.

A lifecycle analysis of options for the alkaline stabilization process at the Hominy Creek WWTF allowed the Owner to select the technology which provided the superior long-term value considering both capital and operating costs.

Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) evaluates the energy and resource usage of a given product or process throughout its lifespan. Our experienced experts use the most modern tools to track a variety of material selections and facility design alternatives from initial implementation through final disposal, providing a comprehensive picture of a project with respect to energy use, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, and related costs.

Pioneering the application of LCA to the water and wastewater industries, Hazen and Sawyer has built models and templates customized to the types of systems our clients employ, enabling expedient and cost-effective quantification and comparison of environmental impacts of different treatment processes and products. We can quickly configure the model to fit a particular client’s needs and economically conduct screening-level studies of a client’s operations, ranging from planning-level alternatives comparison to an exhaustive, in-depth analysis of the selected process.

To perform a Lifecycle Assessment, Hazen and Sawyer uses the impact modeling software SimaPro 7.0, developed by PRé Consultants of the Netherlands. SimaPro allows for accurate management of a project’s inputs, uses, emissions and waste material, and it offers a vast database of environmental impacts associated with thousands of industrial processes and products. These impacts stem not only from the project’s physical plant, but from the materials that go into its construction and operation and from the wastes it generates.

The model we produce accounts for different types of energy inputs, such as electricity from various sources, natural gas, and digester gas burned for electricity or for heat generation. The plant’s footprint can be described in units of energy consumption and greenhouse gas generation. Design alternatives and technology choices can be comprehensively compared in terms of operating and environmental costs.

Hazen and Sawyer also performs Total Cost Analysis (TCA) to give facility owners a view of the “total bottom line.” This includes many costs that are rarely quantified, such as environmental risks associated with project construction and operation, as well as the magnitude of the externalities evaluated in the LCA. For example, a monetary value can be placed on the impact of a project’s carbon footprint, even if the facility owner is not currently liable for it. Additionally, risks presented by regulatory, economic and social conditions can be incorporated into the long-term model. The methodology provides with both internal costs (those borne by the company) and external costs (those borne by society), allowing decision-makers to consider both aspects as appropriate.

For inquiries contact:
Evan Bowles, PE, ENV SP, at ebowles@hazendandsawyer.com