For several years now, Hydro-Québec has been using life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess various products and services.
LCA, also known as ecobalance, measures the environmental impact of a product or service based on its entire life cycle—from the extraction of natural resources to manufacturing, distribution, use and end-of-life (including reuse and recycling if applicable). LCA is one of the most complete and effective methods for conducting the environmental assessment of a product.
For companies, designers and governments, LCA primarily serves to assist decision-making with a view to social responsibility. Governed by ISO 14040 series standards, LCA is a rigorous method consisting of four distinct phases, including the determination and quantification of input and output flows related to the product or activity and the assessment of the potential impacts related to these flows of matter and energy.
Generally, to assess various products and services, the company mandates either the Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG) or a specialized firm to conduct these assessments.
Here are some examples of products or activities for which Hydro-Québec has had LCAs done:
- Incandescent and compact fluorescent lightbulbs, July 2008.
- Small-scale distributed electric power generation, May 2013.
- Small-scale distributed thermal power generation, June 2013.
- Comparison of electric vehicles and conventional vehicles in the Québec context, April 2016.
- Comparing power generation options and electricity mixes, November 2014.