ABCs of LCA: Introductory workshop on life cycle assessment

About this workshop

In May 2015 TISED offered an introductory workshop on Life-Cycle-Analysis (LCA) to McGill students in Departments and Schools in the Faculty of Engineering. What is a “green product”? Many green solutions finally lead to unexpected burden shifting and a holistic approach is needed to really strive toward sustainability. LCA is a fundamental method for assessing the environmental impacts of products and technologies from a "cradle to grave" systems perspective. It is an essential tool for anyone who performs environmental analyses or uses the results of such analyses for decision making avoiding burden shifting. This workshop provided an introduction to LCA methods and applications. Students gained an understanding of why an LCA systems perspective is important, basic skills for sound application of the LCA method and proper interpretation of its results, and an appreciation for the strengths and limitations of LCA in practice. We covered the four major steps in LCA: (1) goal definition and scope; (2) life-cycle inventory compilation; (3) life-cycle impact assessment; and (4) interpretation and management and will include a hands-on modeling exercise, which the students will perform in parallel to lectures to reinforce learning objectives and to gain experience in LCA application.


  • Participation in both full days; and
  • Students in McGill's Faculty of Engineering (any of the 6 departments or 2 schools); and
  • U3 or U4 student in Fall 2015 or a graduate student; and
  • Laptop (with full version of Excel); and
  • Basic skills in algebra, matrix operations, statistics.

Learning outcomes

  • An understanding of life cycle thinking and awareness of resources supporting the adoption of this approach in organizational decision-making
  • An ability to describe in everyday language what a life cycle assessment (LCA) is, as well as what it can (and cannot) do in order to apply LCA results appropriately
  • Knowledge of the differences and relationships between the main steps recommended by the ISO 14040 standard for LCA
  • An understanding the concept of “burden shifting” as well as how it relates to trade-offs from one life cycle step to another or from one impact category to another in order to use LCA results appropriately (e.g. as a tool to avoid creating new environmental problems when trying to solve an initial one)

Benefits of this Workshop

  • Knowing LCA increases your employability - this workshop experience looks great on your CV!
  • LCA practice can be applied across a broad range of sectors to a broad range of applications and sustainability issues
  • A workshop setting with hands-on learning and practice
  • Want to learn more about LCA? Visit:


About the Workshop Instructor, Cécile Bulle

This workshop was given by Cécile Bulle, Professor at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in the department of Strategy, Social and Environmental Responsibility.

Cécile is an Associate Professor at CIRAIG and associated with the international life cycle chair. Her main expertise is in life cycle impact assessment and sustainable buildings. Bulle currently leads IMPACT World+, aiming to develop a new life cycle impact assessment methodology that is regionalized and operationalized at the global scale. This is an international project that gathers some of the most renowned experts in life cycle impact assessment. Cécile is also highly involved with the UNEP/SETAC 'life cycle initiative' working groups that aim to reach a global consensus on life cycle impact assessment modelling.

Bulle teaches both (future) LCA practitioners and researchers on how to conduct life cycle assessment and environmental modelling, and also teaches managers about how to use life cycle assessment in decision-making, particularly in the building and real estate field.