This research seeks to create metrics for assessing vehicle sustainability by creating a methodology for weighing and ranking car models to enable consumers, car companies, and vendors to quantify the environmental impact of vehicle raw material extraction, manufacturing, and assembly. Currently there is no system on the market that informs consumers on the environmental impact associated with their product choice. Companies are beginning to publish information about their product's life-cycle cost; however, it is not indicative enough to enable the public to compare products based on their environmental impact. To create a methodology to meet these needs, first one life cycle assessment (LCA) tool was selected for companies to model the inputs and outputs of the various life cycle phases associated with the processes involved in producing a vehicle. Whether using experimental data, or a model of the life cycle phases, the impact of each process is assessed according to the impact criteria established here. Based on this assessment, a ranking system was devised to then relate the environmental impacts of these vehicles. With this ranking system, a sticker system was then designed to enable consumers to quickly compare the life cycle cost of their vehicle choice and inform the discussion on sustainability in the automotive industry. Manufacturers can also utilize this methodology during the research, pilot, and production phases of vehicle manufacturing. As with other product and process impact assessment methodologies, the Sari Sticker System could affect the economy and policy making as vehicle prices could change based on their environmental impact and policy makers might set limits on the amount of pollutants a company can produce. The Sari Sticker System could also provide policy makers with information to anticipate and assess trends of the environmental impact of vehicles. Because the Sari Sticker System is based on industry pollutant averages, the method can be applied to all products, as long as industry pollutant averages of a product are known. It also builds on other product ranking systems such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Therefore, the Sari Sticker system serves as a methodology for enabling consumers to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions, while encouraging producers to reduce the environmental impact of their products.
Field, Sari, "Towards vehicular sustainability : development of environmental impact metrics" (2009). Honors Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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