Comprehensive sustainability is built upon three pillars which consider environmental, economical and societal aspects. These dimensions can be covered within the Sustainable Assessment (SustAss). It is based upon (i) the ecologically oriented LCA with the carbon footprint as an important element, (ii) the life cycle costing (LCC) and (iii) the social life cycle assessment (SLCA) . Every assessment refers to a specific item (e.g., a product), typically evaluated from raw material acquisition to product disposal/recycling (cradle , to -grave). Ideally, the system boundaries of all three evaluation fields correspond with each other following consistent assumptions and are distinct to avoid double counting. Only under consideration of the entire life cycle, can problems referring to sustainability and their possible shifts to other issues when solved (e.g., the sourcing of renewable feedstocks could cause food shortage), be identified and anticipated . Currently, the social dimension
12.6 The Three-Pillar Interpretation of Sustainability | 443
is rarely covered at the same level of accuracy as the economic and ecological dimension. This is due to the intrinsic difficulty in measuring it objectively. However, every dimension has a practical relevance, seeing that many multinational companies are shifting from ecological towards sustainability reporting. Analogously to the environmental LCA, guidelines for the SLCA have recently been published which cover the impact of a product towards different stakeholders (customers, workers, local community, etc.)  - A consideration must be made between many qualitative indicators (e.g., freedom of association and collective bargaining) and few quantifiable aspects (e.g., quantifying working hours per functional item). The SLCA does not lack indicators; over 200 social indicators are already available . In fact, there is no consensus for how these should be incorporated in an SLCA.
Was this article helpful?