EPS is a systematic approach to choose between design options in product and process development. Its basic idea is to make a list of environmental damage costs available to the designer in the same way as ordinary costs are available for materials, processes and parts. The designer may then calculate the total costs over the products life cycle and compare optional designs.
The EPS system, (Environmental Priority Strategies in product design) was developed to meet the requirements of an everyday product development process where the environmental concern is just one among several others. The development of the EPS system started in 1989 on request from Volvo and as a co-operation between IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Volvo and the Swedish Federation of Industries (within the competence center Swedish Life Cycle Center (former CPM).
Since then it has been modified several times during projects, which have involved several companies, like in the Swedish Product Ecology Project and in the Nordic NEP project.
EPS includes an impact assessment (characterisation and weighting) method for emissions and use of natural resources, which can be applied in any Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The results of the EPS impact assessment method are damage costs for emissions and use of natural resources expressed as ELU (Environmental Load Units). One ELU represents an externality corresponding to one Euro environmental damage cost.
The latest previous version of the EPS impact assessment method was published in 2000. The present version was released 2015 and has been developed within a project coordinated by Swedish Life Cycle Center (http://lifecyclecenter.se.
EPS 2015 are made in two versions:
The reason for developing two versions is the uncertain but important valuations of near-term climate forcers (NTCF) such as Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
In the latest IPCC Assessment Report (AR 5), emissions effecting global warming are reported as direct or indirect. Direct effects could be derived from greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), while indirect effects come from for example NOx and SO2 emissions. The indirect effects are caused by atmospheric reactions such as formation of ozone and secondary particles. Such reactions may decrease or increase global warming. The present knowledge about the quantitative extent of indirect effects is weak. One reason for this is the short lifetime of emissions involved in secondary atmospheric reactions and consequently a strong dependency of local conditions. Another reason is that there are relatively few studies made, which include secondary effects, in particular from secondary particles. There is however a reasonably good consensus that NOx has a negative effect on radiative forcing.
In version 2015dx, the climate impacts from secondary particles are excluded. This implies overall positive damage costs for e.g. NOx and SO2 (i.e. increasing the environmental damage costs).
In the version 2015d, the climate impacts from secondary atmospheric reactions are included. This implies overall negative damage costs for e.g. NOx and SO2 (i.e. reducing the environmental damage costs).
In cases when there are low emissions of fossil CO2 (e.g. with large share of bio fuels and significant amounts of NOx), the 2015d version might end up with net negative impact assessment results for the analysed system.
The UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative (2012-2017) has launched a flagship project to provide global guidance and build consensus on environmental LCIA indicators (see http://www.lifecycleinitiative.org/). Their recommendation is that “near-term climate forcers (NOx, SO2, black carbon, etc.) can be used in sensitivity analyses if their contribution is expected to be important, but not to be included in the climate change impact score because of very high uncertainties and important regional variability. This may change in the future as models improve”. (Levasseur 2016)*
It is therefore recommended that the version including these secondary impacts (2015d) is used with care (e.g. in sensitivity analyses) and by LCA practitioners and experts understanding the underlying concept.
* Levasseur A, CIRAIG - École Polytechnique de Montréal, Canada, personal communication 2016.
The 2000 version is replaced by the 2015 versions which can be downloaded below. For each version there is one excel file presenting the damage costs for emissions and use of natural resources and one excel file showing the calculations made for deriving damage costs via characterisation and weighting factors.
|2015dx||List of damage cost excluding climate impacts from secondary particles|
|2015dx||Background material showing the calculations of damage costs|
|2015d||List of damage costs including climate impacts from secondary particles|
|2015d||Background material showing the calculations of damage costs|
A more detailed description of the EPS concept can be found in the reports below.