Design for Sustainable Public Transportation: LCA-Based Tooling for Guiding Early Design Priorities

Willem Haanstra*, Willem-Jan Rensink, Alberto Martinetti, Jan Braaksma, Leonardus Adriana Maria van Dongen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental sustainability is an increasingly important subject for public transportation organizations. For passenger train operators, modernization projects provide key opportunities to improve the environmental impact of their rolling stock by making informed design decisions at the midpoint of the life cycle of their trains. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is widely adopted as the main instrument for evaluating environmental impact. However, in the past LCA was rarely used in the earlier design stages, where it is most effective, due to constrained access to data, information, and LCA-specific expertise. To this end, a purpose-built streamlined LCA tool for train modernization is developed and demonstrated, following a Design Science Research approach. The developed tool simplifies the application of LCA employing four main design principles: (1) sacrificing the declarative function of LCA, (2) the use of Input–Output-based Life Cycle Inventory, (3) the inclusion of ‘shadow costs’, (4) the limitation of the included environmental impact categories. By streamlining the application of LCA in this way, it becomes possible to introduce LCA-based principles and ways of thinking into a process that would otherwise be inaccessible to performing LCA in: the early design stages of modernization projects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9811
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020


  • public transportation
  • train modernization
  • environmental sustainability
  • life cycle assessment
  • railways


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