The application of Life Cycle Assessment in sustainable furniture system design
Authors: Dongfang Yang
Abstract: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a quantitative methodology to assess the environmental impacts of products, services, and systems. Considering the sustainable furniture production and consumption system is one of the challenges that should be addressed and improved for a better quality of life for residents and lower pollution levels for the environment. The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook by the European Commission has defined 23 LCA applications within which developing design strategies is one. Considering 80% of environmental impacts are decided in the design stage, the research explores LCA's application in sustainable furniture system design by reviewing former articles. The study aims to define furniture design strategies based on LCA analysis. Methods: This research presents a systematic review of 165 articles and books (2000 - 2021) of Life cycle assessment research on furniture. These articles are chosen from Scopus and Google scholar, based on the relation to furniture LCA and impact factor, to make the literature review reliable. It analyses papers in the following three aspects—first, the assessed object(s) and the LCA objectives; second, LCA methods used in articles; and third, the recommended design strategies. The main findings: Reviewed articles generally belong to two categories, case study research and literature review. The exploration provides an overview of LCA supporting sustainable furniture design in 4 different levels: material level, product life cycle level, product service system level and company level. As a result, the research proposes a framework and maps the reviewed furniture design strategies onto this framework. The proposed framework shows design strategies in these four levels: material design, furniture life cycle design, product service system design, and value chain management. The framework also shows how various design strategies contribute to sustainable furniture design and visualizes linkages, overlaps and complementarities between these strategies based on quantitative LCA results.Discussion: Even though these articles proposed many strategies, we are unsure whether some strategies are missing. What is more, if we want to use these design strategies to support practical design activities, an important step is to define the priorities of different strategies in these four levels. This framework needs further assessment and confrontation among experts to make the framework comprehensive and meaningful in real work.
Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment, furniture design, design strategy, environmental impact, material innovation, Life Cycle Design, Product Service System Design
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