Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Life Cycle Based Sustainability Assessment of Technologies using the Example of an Integrated Water Resources Management Project

  • Project team:

    Lehmann, Annekatrin (Dissertation)

  • Start date:


  • Research group:

    Sustainability and environment

Project description

Water is a scarce resource in many regions in the world influencing the living conditions of people and the development in the regions. Worldwide, projects on Integrated water resources management (IWRM) are carried out, aiming at the development and implementation of appropriate technologies for water supply, -treatment, -distribution and sanitation and on promoting a sustainable management of water resources.

Sustainability and sustainability analysis is an important part within the ongoing (since 2008) BMBF joint research project: "IWRM in Gunung Kidul, Java, Indonesia" and focus of the subproject " Integrative sustainability analysis by systems analysis and technology assessment", coordinated by ITAS.

Two approaches are considered for sustainability analysis within the IWRM: 1) sustainability assessment according to the Integrative concept of sustainable development of the Helmholtz-Association and 2) life cycle based sustainability assessment according to the approach of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) as combination of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), Life Cycle Costings (LCC) and Social Life Cycle Assessments (SLCA).

Focus of the Phd project is the life cycle based sustainability assessment of technologies. The methods of LCA and LCC are applied to determine environmental and economic aspects related to alternative technologies for water supply, -treatment and sanitation. The results - quantitative indicators such as resource consumption, global warming potential or costs for production and operation of the technologies - are of interest regarding decision support within the project as well as regarding technology multiplication to similar regions in the world.

As the consideration of social and institutional aspects and framework conditions are crucial within a sustainability assessment, the Phd project also focuses on analyzing how social aspects can be integrated in the life cycle based sustainability assessment. This includes e.g. the analysis and the identification of appropriate technology related social indicators and their integration into existing SLCA methodology.

The Phd project is part of the sustainability analysis within the IWRM project with the focus laid on technology analysis regarding decision support. For the analysis and identification of social indicators usable for SLCA of technologies, results (indicators) from sustainability analysis according to the Helmholtz-approach are taken into account as well.

The Phd project is integrated in the ITAS research group Sustainability and Environment. Focus of this group are sustainability analysis, development of measures for coping with existing sustainability deficits and the analysis of the conditions for the implementation of different possible solutions. Research areas range from land use, energy systems, increase of productivity of raw materials to water supply and sewage disposal.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Matthias Finkbeiner
Advisor: Armin Grunwald
Mentoring at ITAS: Helmut Lehn, Jürgen Kopfmüller
Related projects: Integriertes Wasserressourcen-Management (IWRM) für die Zielregion Mittel-Java in Indonesien
Doctoral students at ITAS: See Doctoral studies at ITAS


Annekatrin Lehmann
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe