Sustainability

Ethics

Many companies prioritize environmental sustainability as a key element in their strategy today. Messages about reduced CO2 emissions or environmentally friendly features are often perceived as endorsements of a product or service by most consumers. To avoid confusion and misleading information, it is crucial that companies can substantiate their claims regarding sustainability.

The Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman has established guidelines for how documentation should be. The main principle is that statements about, for example, environmental sustainability must be supported by comprehensive documentation that reflects the entire production and delivery process, thus accurately reflecting reality. Further information on the applicable guidelines can be found on the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman’s website.

To ensure compliance with the CO2 requirement, it is necessary to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). In Denmark, the tool LCAbyg (https://www.lcabyg.dk/da/) is used for such calculations, based either on EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) or generic database values.

The choice of calculation method has a significant impact on the CO2 footprint. Therefore, EPDs constitute a significant competitive parameter when builders or architects need to make decisions about material selection.

 

 

9 stability limits

Optimizing something often involves compromises elsewhere. In fact, it is this approach, where the economy has been the primary driver of optimization, that has led to some of the climate challenges we face today.

Researchers have proposed a perspective of nine quantitative boundaries within which humanity can continue to evolve and thrive in the coming generations. If we exceed these boundaries, we risk causing sudden or irreversible changes that harm the environment. Since their introduction, these nine boundaries have attracted considerable interest within science, policy, and practice.

 

 

The nine planetary boundaries Boundary Where we are today
Climate change Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at no more than 350 ppm Carbon dioxide levels are at 400 ppm and rising
Loss of biodiversity Maintaining 90% of biodiversity Biodiversity has decreased to 84% in parts of the world such as, Africa
Addition of phosphorus, nitrogen to the world’s crops and ecosystems Global annual use of around 11 teragrams (Tg) of phosphorus and 62 Tg of nitrogen Up to around 22 Tg per year of phosphorus and 150 Tg of nitrogen
Deforestation Preserve 75% of the planet’s original forests Down to 62%
Emissions of aerosols into the atmosphere The global boundary is unknown, but regional effects (such as on the South Asian monsoon) occur when aerosol optical depth (AOD) is more than 0.25 Up to 0.30 AOD over South Asia, but likely well within (or below) the threshold over most of the world
Ozone depletion Less than 5% below pre-industrial levels at around 290 Dobson units (DU) Still safely within the boundary, except over Antarctica during spring, where levels drop to 200 DU
Ocean acidification When the oceans become acidic enough for the minerals marine organisms need to form shells, such as aragonite, to begin dissolving Still within the boundary, which won’t be exceeded if we can stay within the climate limit of 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere
Freshwater consumption Can use up to 4000 km3 of freshwater per year We use about 2600 km3 of freshwater per year
Dumping of organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, microplastics, and other man-made substances Unknown Unknown

*Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre

 

Within LCA, there are calculation models that support the nine boundaries, thus enabling quantitative decision-making for reducing environmental impacts.