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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 8, pp. 1273-1276

Sustainability metrics for vehicles

John L. Sullivan

Ford Research Laboratories, MD/3083 SRL, Dearborn, MI 48124, USA

Abstract: The public has growing concerns about the effects of human activity on the environment for both themselves and future generations. The concept being developed to address these environmental concerns, along with economic and social-equity considerations, is called "sustainable development". The business community has already started to address their contribution to environmental issues through collaborative efforts under organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. That work has focused primarily on industrial and corporate environmental and economic performance through the development of eco-efficiency metrics, which are a measure of resources and materials consumed per unit output of product, sales, or value-added. While this development is important, it is not enough. Clearly, the environmental performance of the entire product system must also be elucidated. Otherwise, one might forget, for example, the power plant emissions of his or her so-called "zero-emission" vehicle. The metrics required to characterize sustainable practices and systems have yet to be developed. The set will include economic, environmental, and social-equity metrics. Because of their system-oriented environmental performance representation, life-cycle assessment metrics are certainly going to be included in such a set. A discussion of some potential life-cycle metrics follows.