Environmental sustainability assessment (ESA)

#Environmental Impact Assessment #EIA #Life cycle assessment #Environmental assessment #Sustainability
The image is divided into three columns: left, middle, right. In the middle and right-hand column, an overview of selected indicators and descriptive elements is given, the short-term environmental impacts (water footprint, land footprint, material footprint, climate footprint and energy footprint, verbal-argumentative assessment) and long-term environmental impacts (human health, ecosystem services, cultural heritage, other categories) in connection with anthropogenic processes. Based on a life cycle inventory analysis of these processes – shown in the left column in the form of a list of input and output flows – at least 80% of all environmental impacts are covered.
Overview of selected indicators that can evaluate or describe short-term (middle) and long-term (right) environmental impacts in connection with anthropogenic processes. Based on an life cycle inventory analysis of these processes (left), at least 80% of all environmental impacts are covered. © Anna Schomberg

To comprehensively assess the environmental impacts of the construction and operation of plants and anthropogenic processes – including prior to project start and remote impacts – the environmental impact assessment has been expanded into an environmental sustainability assessment (ESA).

Sustainable technologies in electricity production often focus on reducing the carbon footprint, while other adverse effects on the environment are not always taken into account. It has been shown that a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts in different categories is necessary in order to assess the sustainability of various technologies. The environmental impact assessment required in Germany for the evaluation of planned construction measures covers a wide range of environmental impacts, but also has weak points: the procedure can only be used meaningfully before the start of the project or measure, does not record any remote effects from upstream supply chains, and is purely verbal-argumentative. As a result, it does not establish comparability between different projects. It is possible to close this gap using selected life cycle assessment indicators – the material, water, land, climate and energy footprint, as well as indicators for the consideration of human health and ecosystem services, can be used at every phase and include the entire supply chain of a plant. In the presented concept, these indicators are supplemented by descriptive elements so that experts in life cycle assessment analyses and users of the environmental impact assessment can achieve the most comprehensive possible assessment. In this way, the environmental sustainability assessment represents an interface between science-based sustainability indicators and practical applications.

Water resource: Drinking water, Groundwater, Process water, Rainwater, Surface water, Wastewater
Type of product:
  • Management concepts & assessments
Application sector: Agriculture, Cities and municipalities, Industry, Natural water environment, Water resource management
Funding measure: GRoW
Project: WANDEL

Contact and partners

Logo Universität Kassel, Center for Environmental Systems Research
  • Universität Kassel, Center for Environmental Systems Research,
  • Wilhelmshöher Allee 47,
  • 34117 Kassel
Anna Schomberg
  • anna.schomberg@uni-kassel.de
  • +49 (0) 561 804 6047

Universität Kassel, Center for Environmental Systems Research,
WAGU – Gesellschaft für Wasserwirtschaft, Gewässerökologie & Umweltplanung mbH

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