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Session 4: Life Cycle Tools

Wednesday, July 16, 1997
2:45 - 4:00 pm



This session was designed to demonstrate comprehensive life cycle tools and how they are used to evaluate environmental factors of a product or its components throughout its life cycle, as well as how such factors can be incorporated into purchasing decisions.

Mr. Shoaff communicated that the EPP and life cycle analysis (LCA) relationship is the main principle involved in environmentally preferable purchasing. Although, LCA does have some limitations relative to the information it can provide.

Speaker 1: Peggy Burns, Marketing Development Manager, Georgia-Pacific, Commercial Products Division

Ms. Burns is the Market Development Manager at Georgia-Pacific in the Commercial Products Division. She has a BS in Industrial Management from Georgia Institute of Technology and will discuss the combined efforts of Georgia-Pacific's Environmental experts and Commercial Products marketing to develop a computer based program which demonstrates at the point of sale the Environmental Value and the Cormatic Towel Dispensing System. The system consists of both the paper towels and the automatic towel dispenser.

The purpose of LCA is to evaluate at the point of sale, the economic value added and the environmental value added to a product. Georgia-Pacific typically demonstrates the software for prospective purchasers. They refer to the demonstration as an "ecoprofile," which is essentially an economic program that evaluates the savings, taking into account LCA. The ecoprofile incorporates environmental, system performance, and operational cost comparison considerations. Ms. Burns indicated that their findings show that the Cormatic Dispensing System reduces paper towel consumption by 35 percent.

After the potential customer selects the type of towel to be replaced, the system calculates the environmental impact and converts it into layman's terms (i.e., number of miles traveled). It does this by performing a cost comparison between the two product options, comparing operational costs and considering estimated and calculated savings.

Questions & Answers for Peggy Burns:

Q: Have you presented this same demonstration to anyone in the federal sector, or just private?
A: Yes, we have presented it to the federal sector.

Q: How do you deal with pricing? Usually federal procurement is based on price and quantity, rather than use.
A: Procurement policies must be flexible to deal with that issue. In the case of Georgia-Pacific, it has been a challenge.

Q: How do your savings estimates compare to your competition?
A: It's difficult to get a benchmark, because not all paper mills are members of the same Association.

Q: What if a customer was switching from cloth or air dryers to the Cormatic Towel Dispensing System? Wouldn't it be like comparing apples to oranges?
A: Yes. This LCA program would not be applicable in that case.

Speaker 2: Barbara (Bobbie) Lippiatt, National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST), Building and Fire Research Laboratory

Ms. Lippiatt began at NIST as an Economics intern in the Office of Applied Economics in 1977. She has been working in the OAE ever since. Ms. Lippiatt uses her proficiency in computer programming to disseminate her decision tools in the form of software with documentation. Two of her software publications have been on the National Technical Information Service's Bestseller list. She has won four NIST Certificates of Recognition for her work, and has given numerous talks around the country. She serves on the ASTM Green Buildings Subcommittee, for which she is leading the development of an economics standard for evaluating and comparing the environmental impacts of building materials over their entire life cycle.

Ms. Lippiatt discussed NIST's newly-developed software, Building for Environmental Sustainability (BEES) part of NIST's Green Building Program.
She began by asking the audience if anyone could think of a product that is ideal in cost, disposal, and environmental attributes. She guessed that one probably doesn't exist. She then discussed Green Building Syndrome, which possesses the following characteristics:

Ms. Lippiatt indicated that she would cover the following in her presentation:

The first version of the BEES software was introduced in December. She imparted that most purchasing agents don't have the tools or the interest to do LCA -- they need tools such as software to be able to do it.

Ms. Lippiatt explained the various lifecycles to be considered when evaluating building materials. The environmental life cycle follows the life of the building material from raw material extraction to the renovation or demolition of the building it was used in. The economic life cycle is represented by more of a direct timeline/cost analysis. She said that the economic life cycle is somewhat limited and technically obsolete. Next, Ms. Lippiatt explained how economic performance is measured in terms of life cycle cost.

The considerations include:

She then explained how to balance environmental and economic performance and the key features of the BEES software. It is publicly available; has built-in flexibility for future data refinement; accommodates different levels of user expertise; and displays and documents results at every stage. She expressed hope that BEES will help decision-makers understand the tradeoffs between environmental and economic issues.

Questions & Answers for Barbara Lippiatt:

Q: One environmental score has been rejected by ISO because they said you can't join human health impact and ecological impact together under one score. What are your thoughts on this?
A: NIST may deal with that issue in the future. These are the types of decisions beginning to be dealt with today.

Q: Who was the BEES software designed for?
A: Originally, the builder, but it began moving toward the purchaser.

Q: How many products are in the database?
A: There are 10 products right now, which are not brand names but rather types of product (i.e., linoleum vs. vinyl flooring). In most cases we have tried to include an environmentally preferable product.

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