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Environmental Impact and Intensity of Processes in Selected Services Companies


Address correspondence to:
Seppo Junnila
Real Estate Business
Helsinki University of Technology
P.O. Box 1200
02015 TKK, Finland


The study fills the gap in existing literature by comparing the economic costs and environmental impacts of processes in four services companies in Europe and the United States. Process-based life cycle assessment (LCA) and the case study method are used to compare companies both on four global-scale impacts and on environmental intensity (impacts per unit cost). The study builds on prior publications on the environmental contribution of processes. The processes include all the activities of the companies that result in an entry into the bookkeeping records. The results show that despite the substantial differences in organizational characteristics and line of business, all the cases had similar environmental contributions and intensity profiles. Wages, which accounted for over half of the costs, were assumed not to cause any environmental impacts. By contrast, the office premises, which generated less than 10% of the costs, caused around 50% of the environmental impacts. At a more general level, the results suggest that both the high environmental impact and the high intensity are attributed mostly to a few premises-related processes in the services industry. The results also seem to imply that the companies could gain added value by using life cycle assessment in determining the significant environmental impacts of their operations.

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