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Greenopia Environmental Impact Assessment Workshop

News + Events : Greenopia Environmental Impact Assessment Workshop

10/24/2012

On September 28, 2012, Douglas Mazeffa, research director at Greenopia, led an environmental impact assessment workshop at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus sponsored by the Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business and SF State’s Net Impact Chapter.

Doug Mazeffa, research director for Greenopia, and Mark Starik, director of the Center for Ethical and Sustainable BusinessStudents, faculty, and Bay Area professionals attended the workshop, learned about how life cycle assessments (LCAs) are conducted, then applied those skills in group exercises to assess the impacts of common products such as TV sets, computers, soda, and cosmetics.

Life Cycle Assessments

LCA is a method of determining all the energy and resource inputs that go into creating a product, and all the waste, pollution, and other negative impacts associated with the consumption and disposal of that product. LCAs serve as important tools for helping organizations gauge the effects their operations have on the environment, as well as informing consumers about the consequences of their consumption habits. LCAs span a wide range of impact categories, including carbon emissions, land use, water consumption, pollutants, eutrophication, and many others. Workshop attendees learned that the assumptions that go into an LCA make all the difference in how the data is collected and interpreted. This variability means conscious consumers need to be judicious of eco labeling in products.

Douglas Mazeffa discusses LCAEco Labels

Douglas spent the latter portion of the workshop discussing eco labels, which are environmental certifications meant to attest that products have been produced in ways that are sustainable and socially just. Common eco labels include USDA Organic, LEED, Energy Star, Fair Trade, and Green Seal. Not all eco labels are created equal, as the degree of transparency on the certification process, and whether or not third party input is involved weighs heavily into how meaningful each label is.

Greenopia

Greenopia is a company dedicated to helping consumers make more sustainable purchasing decisions in their daily lives. It regularly publishes guides assessing the impacts of a wide variety of different consumer products and services, as well as green living business guides to many major cities in the U.S. To learn more, visit Greenopia


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