Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood Sector IRTA

Cabrils, Spain

Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood Sector IRTA

Cabrils, Spain
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Ceron-Palma I.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Sanye-Mengual E.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Oliver-Sola J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Oliver-Sola J.,Inedit Innovacio SL | And 4 more authors.
Habitat International | Year: 2013

In developing countries, particularly in Latin America, the rapid growth of urban areas has led to complex problems, including the exploitation of natural resources, environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Massive structures are being built to meet the housing demand. Moreover, there is excessive use of energy through appliances, interior lightning and air conditioning which generate GHG. This paper aims to propose green sustainable strategies to reduce GHG emissions associated with energy consumption in a social neighbourhood in Merida, Mexico. The strategies were eco-technology (efficient equipment) and green spaces (sedum + food production). Once the context is set, the study collected data about energy habits and consumption. The global warming potential (GWP) was calculated through a life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the level of GHG emissions associated with household energy consumption. The CO2eq emissions avoided by the transport of the food (tomatoes) from the production site to the consumer were calculated. Distribution, packaging and retail were included. All strategies combined can prevent up 1.06 tons CO2eq/year; this represents 67% of the emissions originating from a reference household (34% avoided by eco-technology, 24.5% fixed by green spaces and 8.4% avoided by food logistics). At city scale (112,000 houses) this represents 100,352 tons/CO2eq/year. This study supports the importance of integrating environmental quantitative tools in planning cities. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Martinez-Blanco J.,TU Berlin | Martinez-Blanco J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Lehmann A.,TU Berlin | Munoz P.,Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood Sector IRTA | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2014

The paper explains and discusses the challenges confronted during the application of the Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) methodology defined by UNEP/SETAC S-LCA guidelines in a case study under the framework of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA). The environmental, economic and social aspects related to two mineral fertilizers and one industrial compost were assessed. The system boundaries of the LCSA study included fertilizer production and transportation and certain stages of cultivation. Regarding S-LCA, background and foreground processes were taken into account. The Social Hotspots Database (SHDB) was used to include social aspects related to background processes. Following the approach of Life Cycle Attribute Assessment - proposed, e.g.; in the S-LCA Guidelines - the amount of working time that had been spent on each unit process was used to aggregate the social aspects over the life cycle. This work is one of the first examples for applying the S-LCA Guidelines within the LCSA framework, as well as for using SHDB in a real case study. The comparability and reliability of the S-LCA results were highly challenged by the definition of the functional unit and the system boundaries, the choice of stakeholders and indicators, the use of working time for aggregating social aspects and the data availability among others. Regarding the latter, it is necessary to find a balance between the use of site-specific primary data and generic data to include the entire life cycle. In addition, for many social indicators, no definition of the social targets to achieve is currently agreed upon in the international community. Thus, a complete and robust interpretation of the S-LCA results is not yet possible because of the many methodological obstacles faced. However, because the social dimension plays a major role in sustainability assessment, and as there is no commonly agreed methodology, every effort to advance the application for S-LCA is highly recommended. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Martinez-Blanco J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Rieradevall J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Anton A.,Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood Sector IRTA | Anton A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Munoz P.,Institute of Research and Technology in Agrifood Sector IRTA
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2014

Compost is usually applied once at the beginning of a cropping plan and provides fertilization to several crops. The paper focuses on the way of distributing compost burdens (environmental and economic) among those crops in a real Mediterranean rotation. Four approaches were proposed and compared to solve that multifunctionality problem, according to the hierarchy recommended by the ISO 14044. The rotation included four crops: chard, tomato, cauliflower, and onion; and two fertilizing options: mineral fertilizers (M) and mineral fertilizers plus compost (CM). Life cycle assessment was used for the environmental assessment, and standard farm accounting for the economic one. Compost production had very relevant responsibility for the total impacts of the option using compost, CM. Therefore, the choice of the multifunctionality- solving approach for compost burden distribution had major effects on the results. The compost was a very modest contributor to the total costs; therefore, the divergences on the economic results due to the solving approach were small. Among the four solving approaches, subdivision according to nitrogen mineralization rates and physical allocation related to nitrogen uptake seemed to be the best options. Both approaches had a tight causal relationship with the amount of nitrogen consumed; however, only the physical allocation was based on the specific data obtained during the study. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Martinez-Blanco J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Anton A.,Institute of Research and Technlology in Agrifood Sector IRTA | Anton A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Rieradevall J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2011

Background, aim, and scope: We report the environmental assessment of the cultivation cycle of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis), chosen due to its high levels of natural bioactive compounds, using different fertilization practices. The functional units used during the impact assessment were linked with the quantity produced, considering different units of commercialization, or with the cauliflower quality, considering its antioxidant compounds content. Although nutrient content has been described and used as a possible functional unit, using antioxidant compounds as a functional unit has not previously been published. Method: Three cultivation options with similar dosages of total nitrogen were considered: using mineral fertilizers (M) alone or mineral fertilizers plus compost, with a high (CH) or a low (CL) dosage. During the cultivation period, the soil characteristics and nitrogen and moisture content of the fruit were monitored, and the yield and the fruit size were analyzed. In addition, the glucosinolates and the phenolic compounds (sinapic acid, phenols, and flavonoids) content were assessed for the three options. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to determine the environmental impacts of the whole cauliflower production cycle, including production of mineral and organic fertilizers, fertilizers transport, and crop stage. Results and discussion: Commercial yields were higher for cultivation options with M and CL than for option CH, while higher levels of bioactive compounds were detected in the latter. For CH and CL, eutrophication, global warming and ozone layer depletion potentials were generally lower and photochemical oxidation potential was always higher than for the M option, regardless of the functional unit. Regarding functional units involving production (yield, fruit and dry matter harvest), there were higher impacts with the CH cultivation option than with M for abiotic depletion, acidification, photochemical oxidation, and cumulative energy demand. When the differences in bioactive compounds content (total sinapic acid derivatives and total phenols) were sufficiently high, this was reversed, with CH having lower impacts for all the environmental categories apart from photochemical oxidation and abiotic depletion. Conclusions and perspectives: The differences in the magnitude of individual environmental impacts between cultivation options, and also the order, were highly dependant on the functional unit considered. When functional units associated with production and total phenols content were considered, the CH cultivation option had the highest impact in four out of seven categories, whereas for the functional unit involving sinapic acid content, this cultivation option had the least impact in five out of seven categories. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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