ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

Life-Cycle Assessment for Mitigating the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Retail Products

Arpad Horvath, Ph.D., and Eric Masanet, Ph.D., Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley

August 09, 2007
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


It has been estimated that up to 80% of the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) "footprint" of the average U.S. consumer is attributable to the purchase, use, and disposal of retail products. While California has a strong track record of policies aimed at reducing the operational energy use of retail products (e.g., appliance efficiency standards), little attention has been paid to reducing GHG emissions across the entire retail product life cycle (i.e., production, transportation, use, and disposal). We are planning research to assess opportunities for reducing California's GHG emissions through the application of life-cycle GHG emissions labels and standards to retail products consumed by Californians.

For comprehensive assessment of the "carbon footprint" of retail products, a life-cycle assessment (LCA) model for California needs to be developed. Dr. Horvath will summarize the current state of knowledge in LCA, and discuss the best ways to model the life-cycle GHG emissions of products and services consumed by Californians, including supply chains within the state, interstate commerce, as well as international imports. Dr. Masanet will present the results of an explorative case study on life-cycle GHG emissions standards for personal computers in California to illustrate our planned research approach. The talk will conclude with a discussion of key research challenges.

Speaker Biography

Arpad Horvath, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley (, Director of the Consortium on Green Design and Manufacturing (, and Director of the Engineering and Business for Sustainability certificate program ( Professor Horvath's research focuses on life-cycle environmental and economic assessment of products, processes, and services. He has lead, among others, studies on buildings, pavements, transportation and telework, water provision, electricity generation, and servicizing products using information and communication technologies. He recently served on a National Research Council committee studying the environmental impacts of wind energy projects. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Infrastructure Systems of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dr. Horvath is a recipient of the Laudise Prize "for outstanding achievements in industrial ecology by a young scientist or engineer" by the International Society for Industrial Ecology. He was Conference Co-chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and the Environment in 2000, 2001, and 2007, also as Program Co-chair in 1999 and 2006.

Eric Masanet, Ph.D., is a researcher in the Energy Analysis Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). His research areas at LBNL include product life-cycle assessment, industrial energy efficiency analysis, modeling of California's industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental assessment of information technologies. Prior to joining LBNL, Eric was a postdoctoral researcher at the Consortium on Green Design and Manufacturing at the University of California, Berkeley, where he performed research in the areas of life-cycle analysis and design for recycling for electronics. His industrial experience includes product design for environment positions at Apple, Sun Microsystems, and Seagate Technology; design and quality engineering positions at Caterpillar.

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