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integration of life cycle assessment into agent-based modeling, toward informed decisions on evolving infrastructure systems

Integration of Life Cycle Assessment Into Agent-Based Modeling, Toward Informed Decisions on Evolving Infrastructure Systems
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Davis, C.; I. Nikolic amd G.P.J. Dijkema: Integration of Life Cycle Assessment Into Agent-Based Modeling, Toward Informed Decisions on Evolving Infrastructure Systems, pp. 306-325. In: Journal of Industrial Ecology 13, No. 2 (2009). [s.l.]: Wiley/Yale University, 2009. ISSN: 1530-9290 Print ISSN: 1088-1980. International Journal.

Chris Davis
Gerard Dijkema
Igor Nikolic

A method is presented that allows for a life cycle assessment (LCA) to provide environmental information on an energy infrastructure system while it evolves. Energy conversion facilities are represented in an agent-based model (ABM) as distinct instances of technologies with owners capable of making decisions based on economic and environmental information. This simulation setup allows us to explore the dynamics of assembly, disassembly, and use of these systems, which typically span decades, and to analyze the effect of using LCA information in decision making.

We were able to integrate a simplified LCA into an ABM by aligning and connecting the data structures that represent the energy infrastructure and the supply chains from source to sink. By using an appropriate database containing life cycle inventory (LCI) information and by solving the scaling factors for the technology matrix, we computed the contribution to global warming in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents in the form of a single impact indicator for each instance of technology at each discrete simulation step. These LCAs may then serve to show each agent the impact of its activities at a global level, as indicated by its contribution to climate change. Similar to economic indicators, the LCA indicators may be fed back to the simulated decision making in the ABM to emulate the use of environmental information while the system evolves. A proof of concept was developed that is illustrated for a simplified LCA and ABM used to generate and simulate the evolution of a bioelectricity infrastructure system.

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