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Wafa, W. Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 24 June 2024).
Wafa W. Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2024.
Wafa, Wafaurahman. "Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 24, 2024).
Wafa, W. (2022, March 22). Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University. In Encyclopedia.
Wafa, Wafaurahman. "Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University." Encyclopedia. Web. 22 March, 2022.
Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University

Life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) is an approach utilized for products to analyze their sustainability indicators. Organizational life cycle sustainability assessment (OLCSA) is a new approach adopted from the LCSA framework, which consists of LCA + LCC + S-LCA. Similarly, O-LCSA comprises O-LCA + E-LCC + SO-LCA. 

sustainability organizational life cycle assessment social organizational life cycle assessment organizational life cycle sustainability assessment education costing

1. Introduction

With the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, the United Nations has reiterated the importance of taking immediate measures to protect natural resources and the environment. The key reason for this focus is that global challenges, such as climate change, water shortages, and resource depletion, are hurting people’s lives and upsetting national economies, restricting the possibility of global sustainable development. In this setting, an increasing number of businesses have realized the importance of using tools and processes to help them make decisions about how to reduce the environmental impacts of their products and activities [1].
Commonly, life cycle sustainability assessment is conducted to analyze the sustainability indicators of a particular product or process [2]. However, the life cycle assessment used for organizations considers the UNEP/SETAC 2015 [3] guidelines.
According to the 1987 Bruntland Commission, sustainable development is “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” [4]. Nowadays, considering the environmental, social, and economic problems, policymakers are considerate of the sustainability of products or processes to achieve sustainable development goals. Consequently, the policymakers are cautious in their decisions about a product or process to avoid the negative impacts and improve their positive impacts that will trigger sustainability. According to [5], education plays a dynamic role in attaining sustainable development goals. Sustainable development demarcates three dimensions: environment, economics, and society. Education is also a process and service, which is provided by educational institutes and universities; therefore, it needs to be analyzed based on life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA). Actually, universities and educational institutions are organizations; thus, it is required that they adopt organizational life cycle sustainability assessment (O-LCSA) the same way that LCSA is adopted for products or processes. Therefore, a discreet LCSA study is needed, including the consolidation of LCA, S-LCA, and LCC [2][6][7].
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg emphasized the importance of establishing a comprehensive set of programs centered on sustainable consumption and production. Organizations may analyze, compare, and demonstrate the environmental performance of their products, including commodities and services, using a variety of approaches, tools, and strategies [3]. ISO 14001 [6], or its European equivalent, Eco Management and Auditing The Environmental Management System (EMS), certified as a scheme, is a reference method for many businesses at the organizational level (EMAS). They are mostly procedural tools, and when adding an organization Eco-balance, they typically only assess gate-to-gate operations. The European Commission recently published a draft of its OEF Guide. The International Organization for Standardization created ISO/TS 14072 [8]. The great majority of ISO 14044 [7] standards (27 out of 31) are fundamentally transferrable from products to organizations. In addition, along with the creation of the standard document, the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative launched the flagship project, “LCA of Organizations”, which evaluates the capabilities and application of LCA in organizations [3].
According to ISO/TS 14072 [8], organizational LCA, or O-LCA, gathers and evaluates the inputs, outputs, and potential environmental consequences of activities related to an organization adopting a life cycle assessment approach [3][8]. Moreover, O-LCA is a life cycle method for tackling an organization’s environmental footprint. The O-LCA technique identifies areas and measures environmental factors beyond its organization’s boundaries, while taking into account stakeholders’ interests. It is an environmental impact strategy, since it examines the environmental concerns significant for an organization, while also offering a prospective environmental impact profile of its operations [9]. Specifically, ISO/TS 14072 [8] emphasizes identifying, assessing, and interpreting the potential of environmental factors affecting organizations [6]. Even though O-LCA is still a relatively new concept, researchers and managers use an LCA perspective to measure businesses’ environmental performance for some time now [9][10].
Another notable advantage is that O-LCA can be used to analyze an organization’s environmental performance and benefits related to decision-making processes, as the technology can be utilized to generate necessary data. The provision of advice reporting and open policies are other essential advantages of O-LCA implementation [9]. Environmental impact profiles provide the necessary data to reveal environmental insights into an organization’s decision-making process. UNEP/SETAC [3] and Martnez-Blanco [11] have shown that O-LCA may be used to foresee scenarios and drive data-collecting initiatives.
The first and precise definition [12] of SO-LCA is “a compilation and evaluation of the social and socio–economic aspects and the positive and negative impacts of the activities associated with the organization as a whole or a portion thereof adopting a life cycle perspective”. Social organizational LCA (SO-LCA) and its first outline could be implemented in practice, considering different levels of organizations’ experience in social and environmental assessments [11][13]. The S-LCA outline is generally used in SO-LCA impact assessment and interpretation [11][14]. It is necessary to describe how SO-LCA helps in the resolution of S-LCA’s main concerns. SO-LCA is not thought to be a replacement for existing methods [9]. Moreover, the impact assessment and interpretation of SO-LCA are primarily based on the S-LCA outline [11]. However, in the transition toward socially, environmentally, and economically safe communities, higher education institutions and universities play a significant role. The social aspect and the activity of higher education transformation play a significant role in addressing the complicated process of transition towards sustainable higher education systems and societies in general [15].
A lack of funding is one of the biggest issues and red-line concerns for university or higher education institutions’ sustainability. The academic community has difficulty perceiving the relevance of adopting of a sustainability model for the management of higher education institutions/universities. As university campus infrastructure lasts relatively long, non-academic employees have indicated an additional obstacle in older campus buildings. As far as conservatism or a lack of readiness to change are concerned, self-awareness and the way people think play a significant role [16].
Environmental life cycle costing (E-LCC) estimates the economic cost of a product or service considering environmental protection [17]. Life cycle costing is used in parallel with life cycle assessment (LCA) to focus on external environmental costs to support sustainability [18]. However, sustainability is seen as a priority in today’s world. Environmental life cycle costs are estimated as the direct and indirect costs of environmental damage over an entire product’s life cycle [19]. Life cycle cost involves five steps: (1) defining the goal, (2) selecting the parameters, (3) collecting data, (4) performing the assessment, and (5) reviewing the result [20]. Finally, E-LCC estimates the economic cost of products or services in terms of protecting the environment. Both life cycle costing (LCC) and E-LCC assessment techniques are for decision-making; the LCC calculates the whole life cycle economic cost of product or process. However, the newly established OLCC were introduced recently for the estimation of organization life cycle costs [21].

2. Organizational Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment in University

2.1. Method Used for O-LCA

Organizational life cycle assessment (O-LCA) is a relatively new concept, gaining traction as a scientifically competent and practical approach [22]. With the increased need for organizations to measure and analyze the environmental effects of their activities, organizational lifecycle assessment has recently been implemented from a life cycle viewpoint [22][23]. The growing use of the O-LCA methods is relevant in life cycle assessment approaches [24]. Furthermore, life cycle thinking is the underlying foundation for both LCA and O-LCA methods. In essence, the most significant distinction is the kind of object of analysis: product, the entire company, or activities connected with it [1]. The organizational life cycle assessment (O-LCA) was developed to transition the life cycle approach from the product level to the entire organization level within the scope of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative [25].
However, Julia Martínez-Blanco et al. (2018) [22] argued that three main tasks should be taken in future during testing: (1) the road testing problems should be solved in the future by the LCA field; (2) methodological obstacles unique to particular types of organizations, such as the service industry, should be tackled; and (3) the organizational perspective’s potential should be used in adjacent LCA areas.
Additionally, existing scientific and technological progressions showed that the advantages of life cycle assessment might be applied to the environmental impact assessment of organizations, taking their operations and value chain into account [26]. Furthermore, environmental and organizational life cycle assessment can be used alongside the life cycle assessment, based on ISO/TS 14072. Furthermore, ISO/TS 14072 serves as the foundation for O-LCA, and the guidance is compliant with these standards [27]. Consequently, there is no consensus found to use a specific method for OLCSA. Numerous articles used the “Guidance on Organizational Life Cycle Assessment” UNEP/SETAC 2015 guideline, which is developed considering the ISO/TS 14072.

2.2. The Method Used for SO-LCA

The social dimension is vital in sustainability assessment, especially for university and higher education institutions, as social organizations provide social services. SO-LCA is defined as “a compilation and evaluation of the social and socio-economic aspects and the positive and negative impacts of the activities associated with the organization as a whole or a portion thereof adopting a life cycle perspective” [11]. Moreover, in the above-mentioned definition, the organization also has a huge amount of negative and positive social impacts on society and stakeholders. Therefore, the social organization life cycle assessment, including one of the important pillars of sustainability, must be conducted.
SO-LCA is comprised of O-LCA using the UNEP/SETAC [28] guideline and [12]. The main methodological and practical challenges and limitations of SLCA, resulting from the complexity of the social dimension and the novelty of the method and the need for further development, are highlighted in the SLCA guidelines [11]. There are just 8 indicators at the product level, 127 at the organizational level, and 69 at the national level in the current S-LCA method for the product [11][15]. The bulk of presently implemented SLCA indicators are organizational-level in nature. Connecting social elements to a “reporting organization”, i.e., the O-LCA and SO-LCA reference unit, appears more logical, relevant, and feasible [11].
The organizational viewpoint of O-LCA and the O-LCA framework may be used to create the new SO-LCA method, regardless of an organization’s level of experience with social and environmental assessment. SO-LCA is not intended to replace current methods, but to enhance them by broadening their scope (addressing the whole life cycle and including new social dimensions) and increasing their applicability (using an organizational instead of product perspective). However, the S-LCA guidelines emphasize the major methodological and practical difficulties and constraints of S-LCA, which arise from the complexity of the social component and the uniqueness of the technique, as well as the need for future development. Finally, more reliable and suitable methods for assessing the social demission of sustainability in an organization are required [11].

2.3. Methods Used for Organization Life Cycle Costing E-LCC or O-LCC

Economically, the life cycle costing (LCC) methodology can be used to assess a system’s economic performance. There is no unanimity on the procedure for calculating life cycle costs. However, Hunkeler, Lichtenvort, and Rebitzer (2008) [29] initially developed a methodological framework for LCC. Moreover, Swarr et al. (2011) [30] developed the code of practice for LCC. When applied alone or in combination with the LCA methodology, there is a substantial body of background material on the LCC’s applicability. No organizational life cycle costing (O-LCC) methodology has been developed to date. O-LCC could be developed on the basis of the LCC framework, with changes that are comparable to those that were needed when O-LCA was developed on the basis of the LCA framework [21].
Additionally, based on the literature, LCC and E-LCC are the most used methods for products; however, Alejandrino, Mercante, and Bovea [21] firstly used the O-LCC method for organization. Therefore, the O-LCC method is required alongside organization life cycle assessment to estimate all costs of organization in its life cycle.


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