Environmental LCA

PhD and Post PhD

Toward a consistent accounting of water as a resource and a vector of pollution in the LCA of agricultural products: Methodological development and application to a horticultural cropping system.
Sandra PAYEN, PhD student


Thesis supervisors

  • Sylvain Perret, CIRAD
  • Claudine Basset-Mens, CIRAD

Thesis Committee

  • François Colin, SupAgro
  • Vincent Colomb, ADEME
  • Montse Nuñez, IRSTEA
  • Philippe Roux, IRSTEA
  • Christian Gary, INRA
  • Serge Marlet, CIRAD
  • Henri Vannière, CIRAD


At the interface between agronomy and environmental assessment, the stake of this thesis is to better account for the soil-climate-and agricultural management in the Life Cycle Assessment of cropping systems. The objective is to provide an inventory considering water as a resource but also a vector of solutes such as nitrogen and salts, with the underlying purpose to feed the actual and futures methods assessing water and salinization impacts in LCA.

Contact : sandra.payen@cirad.fr

Development of regional indexes for habitat fragmentation impacts on biodiversity and integration into environmental assessments.
Pyrène LARREY-LASSALLE, Irstea – Ecole des mines d’Alès PhD student



Thesis Committee

Academic partners of ELSA-PACT Chair

  • Philippe ROUX – IRSTEA
  • Éléonore LOISEAU – IRSTEA
  • Miguel LOPEZ-FERBER – Ecole des Mines d’Alès
  • Guillaume JUNQUA – Ecole des Mines d’Alès
  • David SALZE – Ecole des Mines d’Alès
  • Carole SINFORTMontpellier SupAgro

Industrial Partners of ELSA-PACT Chair

  • Catherine CHEVAUCHE (ou Delphine ANTONUICCI) – SUEZ Environnement (SAFEGE)

External experts

  • LCA Land-use/Biodiversity : Thomas KOELLNER – University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • Biodiversity/Ecology: Jean-Louis MARTIN – CEFE
  • Spatial aspect: Samuel ALLEAUME, Irstea, Montpellier




The PhD began with a comparison of two environmental assessment approaches: a “site” approach (Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA) and a “product” approach (Life Cycle Assessment, LCA). Their similarities and differences were discussed, in order to see how they could complement and enrich each other.


Following this analysis, potential general research issues were formulated for extending one and / or the other of these two approaches. One of these challenges, regarded as a major societal issue, consists in defining or improving new locally-relevant impact categories, such as the water use or the land use. In this context, the question of the impact of land use on biodiversity was chosen.

Based on literature review of land-use impacts in LCA, the main research needs identified were: (i) take into account not only the destruction of habitat, but also habitat fragmentation and (ii) define more comprehensive indicators of the state of biodiversity (various components of biodiversity).

Thus, habitat fragmentation, considered as a relevant lever for improving the impact of land use on biodiversity, was chosen as research question.

The study of habitat fragmentation in the ecological literature should then be used to make the link with LCA in order to define the causal chain associated with this human pressure.

The main objective of the PhD is first to develop a conceptual framework for the integration of fragmentation in LCA. Secondly, and depending on the remaining time, operational implementation of this framework could be proposed (application of the model on a global scale).


This research question is at the interface of EIA and LCA, as it could not only improve the current LCA methods but also better assess the offset measures in EIA.

Contact : p.larrey-lassalle@irstea.fr

PLL                  PLL1


Accounting for temporal dynamics in Life Cycle Impact Assessment for eutrophication and freshwater ecotoxicity categories in order to better differenciate between chronic and punctual discharges.
Eva RISH, PhD student


Thesis supervisors

  • Carole SINFORT, SupAgro
  • Eleonore LOISEAU, Irstea
  • Philippe ROUX, Irstea

Thesis Committee

  • Ralph ROSENBAUM, Irstea
  • François COLIN, SupAgro INRA
  • Xavier LITRICO, LyRE



The main challenge of this thesis is to further develop life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods on eutrophication and freshwater ecotoxicity categories with a differentiation in emissions with respect to their intensity and temporal distribution. Indeed, current impact characterization models do not include temporal dynamics in the emission of a pollutant between its source and its target. The proposed approach will combine this temporal differentiation with a spatial differentiation of emission sources, in order to discriminate between impacts originating from an incidental, point-source emission (eg WWTP overflow) and impacts arising from a diffuse or non-point emission (eg daily expected release from a WWTP or nutrient leaching to river systems from agricultural lands). The selected application is the differentiation of impacts associated with daily discharge of WWTP compared to point source discharges over time eg in relation to an overflow due to weir storm.

Contact : eva.risch@irstea.fr


Water footprint and impacts LCA of the consumption of water: development of indicators of water quality
Charlotte PRADINAUD, Irstea – Ecole des mines d’Alès PhD student


The objective of the PhD is to develop a relevant water quality indicator according to the potential use, while identifying and eliminating the potential problems of double counting. This should be realized on the basis of the water footprint indicators existing, but also of local quality indicators of the water. It will involve the analyzing of the need and the possibilities of adapting the average indicator at a country scale to bigger spatial scales in order to better answer to the regional / local specificities. An additional prospect will be to integrate into the water quality indicator the impacts due to micropollutants and emergent contaminants. The work will begin with a detailed analysis of the existing models of waterfootprint and water use in LCA. Secondly, the parameters having a significant influence on the global variability of the indicator will be identified and an average global indicator will be developed. Finally, the spatial variability of the indicator will be studied by analyzing the effects of the consideration of the local conditions on the characteristics of the average indicator.

The approach will be applied to one or several examples of activities having strong environmental pressures on the quality or the local resource in water (ex: technologies of water supply, territorial management of the water resource, etc.)

Contact : charlotte.pradinaud@irstea.fr


Water footprint and Life Cycle Assessment – Development of a methodological framework for the regionalized consideration of different water sources in LCA
Susana LEAO, Irstea – Ecole des mines d’Alès PhD student



The water used for human activities may come from different sources. It may be of conventional (river water or groundwater) or unconventional (water reuse, desalinated water, etc.) origin and may be suitable for different uses directly related to its quality. In Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), current methods used for life cycle inventory (LCI) can differentiate the source of water used from the conventional sources of water, which is not the case for unconventional sources. Nevertheless, they are increasingly used, especially in arid countries where water is a scarce resource, and the more so in a context of climate change where the availability of conventional water resources decreases. In addition, the availability of water varies in each country / watershed. However, current practice in LCA does not sufficiently take into account the geographical differentiation. To use methods for assessing environmental impacts specific to each water source, the stage of the life cycle inventory should allow determining the type of water source used depending on the type of use.


The main objective of the thesis is to include information on the source and the quality of the water used in the life cycle inventory phase depending on the type of human activities (agricultural, domestic, or industrial use, etc.) and for each region (country / watershed) in the world. In analogy with the electric mix in LCA, the objective is to develop regionalized water supply mix depending on the type of water use.

The influence of socio-economic and climatic factors on the regional availability of future water resources will also be a focus of the thesis work with the aim to develop several scenarios on the availability of water resources and the ability to adapt in different regions of the world.

The developed approach will be applied to one or more examples of activities with strong environmental pressures on the quality and availability of local water resources (e.g. water supply technologies, territorial management of water resources, etc.).

Contact : susana.de-oliveira-leao@irstea.fr

Empreinte eau et ACV d’impacts de la consommation d’eau : développement d’indicateurs d’impacts de la consommation d’eau sur la biodiversité.
Mattia DAMIANI, PhD student





Contact : mattia.damiani@irtsea.fr


Improvement of LCA methods for water consumption impacts.
Montserrat NUNEZ, Post-PhD

Thesis supervisors

  • Ralph ROSENBAUM, Director of ELSA-PACT Chair
  • Philippe ROUX, IRSTEA



The position (March 2014-March 2016) deals with the improvement of water footprint metrics in LCA, with a focus on the development of a mechanistic framework to assess water use. Responsibilities include representation of the chair ELSA-PACT in WULCA (Water Use in LCA), a UNEP/SETAC LC-Initiative international working group (http://www.wulca-waterlca.org/), and thesis co-supervision. 

Contact : montse.nunez-pineda@irstea.fr




Larrey-Lassalle, P., Esnouf, A., Roux, P., Lopez-Ferber, M., Rosenbaum, R.K., Loiseau, E., 2018. A methodology to assess habitat fragmentation effects through regional indexes: Illustration with forest biodiversity hotspots. Ecol. Indic. 89, 543–551. doi:10.1016/J.ECOLIND.2018.01.068
Risch, E., Gasperi, J., Gromaire, M.C., Chebbo, G., Azimi, S., Rocher, V., Roux, P., Rosenbaum, R.K., Sinfort, C., 2018. Impacts from urban water systems on receiving waters – How to account for severe wet-weather events in LCA? Water Res. 128, 412–423. doi:10.1016/J.WATRES.2017.10.039
Larrey-Lassalle, P., Loiseau, E., Roux, P., Lopez-Ferber, M., Rosenbaum, R.K., 2018b. Developing characterisation factors for land fragmentation impacts on biodiversity in LCA: key learnings from a sugarcane case study. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 1–11. doi:10.1007/s11367-018-1449-5
Ryberg, M.W., Rosenbaum, R.K., Mosqueron, L., Fantke, P., 2018. Addressing bystander exposure to agricultural pesticides in life cycle impact assessment. Chemosphere 197, 541–549. doi:10.1016/J.CHEMOSPHERE.2018.01.088
Pradinaud, C., Núñez, M., Roux, P., Junqua, G., Rosenbaum, K.R., 2018. The issue of considering water quality in life cycle assessment of water use. Under Review. Int. J. Life Cycle Assesment. doi:10.1007/s11367-018-1473-5
Cosme, N., Hauschild, M.Z., Molin, C., Rosenbaum, R.K., Laurent, A., 2018. Learning-by-doing: experience from 20 years of teaching LCA to future engineers. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 1–13. doi:10.1007/s11367-018-1457-5
Núñez, M., Rosenbaum, R.K., Karimpour, S., Boulay, A.-M., Lathuillière, M.J., Margni, M., Scherer, L., Verones, F., Pfister, S., 2018. A Multimedia Hydrological Fate Modeling Framework To Assess Water Consumption Impacts in Life Cycle Assessment. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 4658–4667. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b05207
van Zelm, R., van der Velde, M., Balkovic, J., Čengić, M., Elshout, P.M.F., Koellner, T., Núñez, M., Obersteiner, M., Schmid, E., Huijbregts, M.A.J., 2018. Spatially explicit life cycle impact assessment for soil erosion from global crop production. Ecosyst. Serv. 30, 220–227. doi:10.1016/J.ECOSER.2017.08.015
Hauschild, M.Z.; Rosenbaum, R.K.; Olsen, S.I. Eds. (2018) Life Cycle Assessment – Theory and Practice, Springer: Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1216 pages
Woods, J.S., Damiani, M., Fantke, P., Henderson, A.D., Johnston, J.M., Bare, J., Sala, S., de Souza, D., Pfister, S., Posthuma, L., Rosenbaum, R.K., Verones, F., 2017. Ecosystem quality in LCIA: status quo, harmonization, and suggestions for the way forward. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 1–12. doi:10.1007/s11367-017-1422-8
Leão, S., Roux, P., Nunez, M., Loiseau, E., Junqua, G., Sferratore, A., Penru, Y., Rosenbaum, R.., 2018. A worldwide-regionalised water supply mix (WSmix) for life cycle inventory of water use. J. Clean. Prod. 172, 302–313. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.10.135
Leão, S., El mix de suministro de agua (WSmix) para uso en Análisis de Ciclo de Vida y Huella Hídrica
Rosenbaum, R.K., 2017. Selection of Impact Categories, Category Indicators and Characterization Models in Goal and Scope Definition, Goal and Scope Definition in Life Cycle Assessment. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht. doi:10.1007/978-94-024-0855-3_2
Payen, S., Basset-Mens, C., Colin, F., Roignant, P., 2017. Inventory of field water flows for agri-food LCA: critical review and recommendations of modelling options. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 1–220. doi:10.1007/s11367-017-1353-4
Verones, F., Bare, J., Bulle, C., Frischknecht, R., HauHellweg, S., Henderson, A., Jolliet, O., Laurent, A., Liao, X., Paul, J., Maia, D., Souza, D., Michelsen, O., Patouillard, L., Stephan, P., Posthuma, L., Prado, V., Ridoutt, B., Rosenbaum, R.K., Sala, S., Ugaya, C., Vieira, M., Fantke, P., 2017. LCIA framework and cross-cutting issues guidance within the UNEP- SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. J. Clean. Prod. 161, 957–967. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.05.206
Boulay, A.-M., Bare, J., Benini, L., Berger, M., Lathuillière, M.J., Manzardo, A., Margni, M., Motoshita, M., Núñez, M., Pastor, A.V., Ridoutt, B., Oki, T., Worbe, S., Pfister, S., Ca, A.-M.B., 2018. The WULCA consensus characterization model for water scarcity footprints: assessing impacts of water consumption based on available water remaining (AWARE). Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 23, 368–378. doi:10.1007/s11367-017-1333-8
Larrey-lassalle, P., Catel, L., Roux, P., Rosenbaum, R.K., Lopez-ferber, M., Junqua, G., Loiseau, E., 2017. An innovative implementation of LCA within the EIA procedure : Lessons learned from two Wastewater Treatment Plant case studies. Environ. Impact Assess. Rev. 63, 95–106. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2016.12.004
Antón, A., Núñez, M., 2016. Tierras de Castilla y León – La importancia de la cuantificación ambiental del uso del agua, No. 246 –. ed.
Dong, Y., Rosenbaum, R.K., Hauschild, M.Z., 2016. Assessment of Metal Toxicity in Marine Ecosystems : Comparative Toxicity Potentials for Nine Cationic Metals in Coastal Seawater. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 269–278. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01625
Frischknecht, R., Fantke, P., Tschümperlin, L., Niero, M., Antón, A., Bare, J., Boulay, A., Cherubini, F., Hauschild, M.Z., Henderson, A., Levasseur, A., Mckone, T.E., Michelsen, O., Milà, L., Pfister, S., Ridoutt, B.G., Rosenbaum, R.K., Verones, F., Vigon, B., Jolliet, O., 2016. Global guidance on environmental life cycle impact assessment indicators : progress and case study. Int. J. Life Cycle Assesment 21, 429–442. doi:10.1007/s11367-015-1025-1
Payen, S., Basset-mens, C., Nunez, M., Follain, S., Grünberger, O., Marlet, S., Perret, S., Roux, P., 2016. Salinisation impacts in life cycle assessment : a review of challenges and options towards their consistent integration. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. doi:10.1007/s11367-016-1040-x
11367 Núñez, M., Bouchard, C.R., Bulle, C., Boulay, A.-M., Margni, M., 2016. Critical analysis of life cycle impact assessment methods addressing consequences of freshwater use on ecosystems and recommendations for future method development. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 21, 1799–1815. doi:10.1007/s11367-016-1127-4
Rosenbaum, R.K., Meijer, A., Demou, E., Hellweg, S., Jolliet, O., Lam, N.L., Margni, M., Mckone, T.E., 2015. Indoor Air Pollutant Exposure for Life Cycle Assessment: Regional Health Impact Factors for Households. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 12823–12831. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b00890

Risch, E., Gutierrez, O., Roux, P., Boutin, C., Corominas, L., 2015. Life cycle assessment of urban wastewater systems: Quantifying the relative contribution of sewer systems. Water Res. 77, 35–48. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2015.03.006

Boulay, A.-M., Bare, J., De Camillis, C., Döll, P., Gassert, F., Gerten, D., Humbert, S., Inaba, A., Itsubo, N., Lemoine, Y., Margni, M., Motoshita, M., Núñez, M., Pastor, A. V., Ridoutt, B., Schencker, U., Shirakawa, N., Vionnet, S., Worbe, S., Yoshikawa, S., Pfister, S., 2015. Consensus building on the development of a stress-based indicator for LCA-based impact assessment of water consumption: outcome of the expert workshops. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. doi:10.1007/s11367-015-0869-8

11367 Bakas, I., Hauschild, M.Z., Astrup, T.F., Rosenbaum, R.K., 2015. Preparing the ground for an operational handling of long-term emissions in LCA. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 20, 1444–1455. doi:10.1007/s11367-015-0941-4
Wei, W., Larrey-Lassalle, P., Faure, T., Dumoulin, N., Roux, P., Mathias, J.-D., 2015. How to Conduct a Proper Sensitivity Analysis in Life Cycle Assessment: Taking into Account Correlations within LCI Data and Interactions within the LCA Calculation Model. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 377–385.
11367 Westh, T.B., Hauschild, M.Z., Birkved, M., Jørgensen, M.S., Rosenbaum, R.K., Fantke, P., 2015. The USEtox story : a survey of model developer visions and user requirements. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 20, 299–310. doi:10.1007/s11367-014-0829-8

Rosenbaum, R.K., Anton, A., Bengoa, X., Bjørn, A., Brain, R., Bulle, C., Cosme, N., Dijkman, T.J., Fantke, P., Felix, M., Geoghegan, T.S., Lewis, F., Maxime, D., Nemecek, T., Payet, J., Räsänen, K., Roux, P., 2015a. The Glasgow consensus on the delineation between pesticide emission inventory and impact assessment for LCA. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 20, 765–776. doi:10.1007/s11367-015-0871-1

9789401786973 Rosenbaum, R.K., 2015. Ecotoxicity, in: Klöpffer, W., Curran, M.A. (Eds.), LCA Compendium – The Complete World of Life Cycle Assessment. Springer, pp. 139–162
11367 Núñez, M., Pfister, S., Vargas, M., Antón, A., 2015. Spatial and temporal specific characterisation factors for water use impact assessment in Spain. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 20, 128–138. doi:10.1007/s11367-014-0803-5
journal of cleaner production Payen, S., Basset-Mens, C., Perret, S., 2015. LCA of local and imported tomato: an energy and water trade-off. J. Clean. Prod. 87, 139–148. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.10.007
309 Risch, E., Loubet, P., Núñez, M., Roux, P., 2014. How environmentally significant is water consumption during wastewater treatment? : Application of recent developments in LCA to WWT technologies used at 3 contrasted geographical locations. Water Res. 57, 20–30. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2014.03.023
  Antón, A., Torrellas, M., Núñez, M., Sevigné, E., Amores, M.J., Muñoz, P., Montero, J.I., 2014. Improvement of Agricultural Life Cycle Assessment Studies through Spatial Differentiation and New Impact Categories: Case Study on Greenhouse Tomato Production. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 9454–9462. doi:10.1021/es501474y


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