A protocol for the global sensitivity analysis of impact assessment models in life cycle assessment

S. Cucurachi, E. Borgonovo, R. Heijungs

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The life cycle assessment (LCA) framework has established itself as the leading tool for the assessment of the environmental impact of products. Several works have established the need of integrating the LCA and risk analysis methodologies, due to the several common aspects. One of the ways to reach such integration is through guaranteeing that uncertainties in LCA modeling are carefully treated. It has been claimed that more attention should be paid to quantifying the uncertainties present in the various phases of LCA. Though the topic has been attracting increasing attention of practitioners and experts in LCA, there is still a lack of understanding and a limited use of the available statistical tools. In this work, we introduce a protocol to conduct global sensitivity analysis in LCA. The article focuses on the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA), and particularly on the relevance of global techniques for the development of trustable impact assessment models. We use a novel characterization model developed for the quantification of the impacts of noise on humans as a test case. We show that global SA is fundamental to guarantee that the modeler has a complete understanding of: (i) the structure of the model and (ii) the importance of uncertain model inputs and the interaction among them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)357-377
    JournalRisk Analysis
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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