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Methods can be grouped into procedural and analytical approaches. The procedural ones e. EIA or strategic environmental assessment, SEA focus on the procedure around the analysis, while the analytical ones e. LCA, MFA put the main focus on technical aspects of the analysis, and can be used as parts of the procedural approaches. Regarding the impacts studied, the environmental issues cover both effects of natural resource use and other environmental impacts, e. In addition, environmental systems analysis studies can cover or be based on economic accounts life cycle costing, cost-benefit analysis, input-output analysis, systems for economic and environmental accounts , or consider social aspects.

The objects of study are distinguished into five categories. These are projects, policies and plans, regions or nations, firms and other organizations, products and functions, and substances. Further, environmental systems analysis studies are often used to support decision making and it is acknowledged that the decision context varies and is of importance. This regards, for example, that business activities can be related in different ways to the products and other objects studied in environmental systems analysis.

A perception of a coherent family of tools and methods for ESA started to become established by findings published in the year Common characteristics were found to recently have appeared across tools and methods that had previously been seen as distinct from each other.

The characteristics were full and attribution approaches, respectively, and the tools and methods were each earlier determined by one unique combination of flow object, spatial boundary and relation to time. An overview of tools and methods for ESA was published five years later. The most common occupancies of a high-rise building is apartment buildings, hotels, office buildings, and facilities that care for the sick. The level of protection in a high-rise building is usually greater because of the additional fire safety measures required by the code Hall, About 42, fires in industrial and manufacturing properties were reported during — in the U.

Evarts, The national interagency fire center NIFC is an organization who serves as a coordinator for wildland fire events throughout the United States. NIFC is responsible supporting incidents around the country at all levels of risk and as such it can leverage its own, and its partner organizations, advanced ability to track and respond to wildland fire events.

This agency develops the teams that are necessary to respond to a wildland fires and sets up mobile response units. Impact analysis includes the different set of analyses which are conducted to determine what the severity of the impacts will be and how they might manifest themselves. Three types of analysis are presented as the most common methods for understanding the impacts.

When conducting any type of analysis like this there is a specificity and data problem, meaning that, to fully conduct the analysis requires a significant amount of information and a clearly defined focus for the analysis. Ranging from simple and course to sophisticated and refined. The difference between the different types of analysis will be cost, where cost is determined based on both economic costs and time costs.

The usage of different analysis changes based upon what is required from the analysis. For example for an incident commander during a fire, the simple and course method will be chosen because of the immediacy of the situation and the low amount of resolution needed as well as the clear focus.

What is environmental risk assessment?

A full life cycle analysis would require a sophisticated and data-rich refined study and therefore it is a very costly study both in terms of time and information needed. The life cycle analysis LCA is a method that maps the lifecycle of a product, identifies the stages of production, use, and end-of-life processes.

The LCA is a powerful tool to show the environmental costs of the lifecycle of a product, process, or policy. This tool is most commonly used in to look at individual products and processes, however recent interest by different industries, has led to the creation of tools to study a building as a whole. The methodology was developed specifically to identify the stages in the products lifecycle where a fire will occur Simonson et al.

The Fire-LCA process is primarily the same process as the typical LCA process with the difference being that it includes modules to account for accidents, like fires. It also includes modules that recognize the extent of the damaged area, the fire extinguishment and the replacement of damaged materials. The methodology was developed at SP in Sweden Simonson, et al.

The effort resulted in a comprehensive guidance framework for conducting a Fire-LCA Andersson, et al. The relative effort that is required for the life cycle analysis is significant.

For example, Hamzi et al. To complete the analysis, statistics on the following are required:. To adapt the methods of Hamzi et al to an analysis of a building, Fig. Conducting this type of analysis, especially in the United States, is made simpler by the fact that there are several tools used to calculate the life-cycle costs of materials and practices, however this is still a very complicated and involved process.

The interest in sustainability in recent years, has led to the availability of several tools which to calculate the various values i. The two tools listed below are for informational purposes only, and do not indicate a particular endorsement to any product or tool. These tools are comprehensive and represent viable ways to produce easy result with little user input.


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These tools are built to include massive libraries containing information on various building products. For example they have data regarding the embodied CO 2 for the most common building components for the totality of the building. The Athena Impact Estimator is a spreadsheet tool that is used to quantify the life cycle analysis of a residential building. This is a free tool that is available to the public. The tool is very easy to use for almost anyone and breaks down the process of conducting an LCA by dividing each part of the house into its own section.

The data input by the user is typically the materials that are being used and then the number and size of those materials. In this way it can also help show if there are certain materials or sizes that could be altered to create a better lifecycle impact for the building. A similar approach that identifies possibly fire issues would be extremely helpful and powerful.

Bowick et al. SiteWise TM is a stand-alone tool developed jointly by the U. Navy, the U. Army, the U. This model breaks down the process or activity into blocks over which it can properly identify the above metrics. In this way it will assign every part of the issue a metric and then sums them together. By approaching this analysis in this way the tool attempts to remove the double counting of environmental factors.

This tool incorporates all stages in the life of a product from the raw material acquisition to the recycling or waste management of the product. In addition the economic performance is determined by finding the costs from the initial investment to the cost of repair and disposal. This is a tool that is would be useful during the construction of building to use as a decision tool.

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The American standard ASTM E provides minimum requirements when conducting whole-building LCA for the purpose of attaining building rating system and code compliance. The fact that LCA has received its own standards committee represents the importance that this tool is seen to have by the regulatory committee ISO, EN Sustainability of construction works. Assessment of environmental performance of buildings.

Calculation method. ISO Environmental management -- Eco-efficiency assessment of product systems -- Principles, requirements and guidelines. ISO Environmental management -- Life cycle assessment -- Critical review processes and reviewer competencies. This is only a piece of the global push for better informed environmental policy. The inclusion of quantified analysis tools in regulatory frameworks and legislation is a positive step forward to fully understanding the environmental impact of the choices that are made at the highest levels.

A cost-benefit analysis CBA is another technique that is commonly used to look at products, processes, or legislation to objectively quantify the costs involved and compares them with their benefits. The cost-benefit analysis will not only account for the direct economic costs, but for the costs to the whole process, product, or legislation. Similarly to the life cycle analysis, the cost benefit analysis required quantified data for items that have not traditionally been communicated with quantified data.

The Building Research Establishment BRE conducted a cost-benefit analysis to study the effect of sprinkler systems in warehouses. They assumed six building types ranging from small to large warehouses, with or without sprinklers.

An ecosystem‐based approach to marine risk assessment

This took into account such things as the buildings area, to the annual maintenance of the system to the frequency and impact of a fire. The environmental impact of fire has been done using two metrics one metric is using tons of CO 2 and the other is using ecopoints. Where ecopoints are normalized so that the annual environmental impact of an average person is ecopoints.

Aquatic ecotoxicology and ecological risk assessment

The data points that are used to make up that metric are as follows:. The cost-benefit analyses is useful for studying the environmental impact of fire as a basis for design including the fire protection systems because it presents the information as economic data. The study from BRE looking at whether to include sprinklers is one example, but the cost-benefit analysis could also be used to study any aspect of the fire system design. The boundaries of a cost-benefit study can vary, so it is advised that an official document is used to bound and define the analysis using something like ASTM E Risk assessment is used across many industries, for many uses, because of its power for identifying the various hazards and the likelihoods of a hazardous even occurring.

An environmental impact analysis benefits from a full risk assessment to properly understand the impacts. The use of risk assessment techniques will also allow translation to risk management and risk-informed decision making. There are numerous methods for conducting a risk assessment exercise, which are in part dependent on the level of detail needed and the data that is available.

There are three main levels of detail by which risk can be assessed, which are through purely qualitative methods, semi-quantitative methods, or purely quantitative methods. A qualitative risk assessment analysis will require the least level of detail and the least data, whereas a quantitative risk assessment analysis will require the highest level of detail and more data.

Other methods include Morandini et al. The process of risk assessment can be conducted through a variety of methods depending on the problem being studied and the results that are desired. The process of assessing the risk of fire on the environment requires additional study because of the gaps in our knowledge as well as the specificity and complexity of the issues involved. There were two major organizations that were working in this area and provided good guidance on future steps. The EPA uses the framework shown in Fig.

To perform a fully formed risk assessment a proper framework needs to be identified. First there is the source of the risk, which in this case will be the fire. The source itself is comprised of several hazards of concern, ranging from chemical, physical, biological, or nutritional.

These make up the hazards in the risk assessment process. The pathways, or the ways that the hazards gets from the source to the target are of critical importance. In the case of fire and many other events, the pathways for the impact is through the air, water, and the ground. For the hazard to reach the target it still needs a way to affect the organism or area through either ingestion or contact.


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  7. Once the hazard reaches the target receptor the target must process the hazard, be affected by the toxicity, and then think about the final effects. There are some hazards that are able to be processed, but it is very dependent on the toxicity of the hazard. The toxicity is separated into how it affects the target.

    The toxicity is either acute, sub-chronic, chronic, or intermittent. Planning an ecological risk assessment Created based on information from EPA, An example of this process is a source fire is being extinguished with water, where the hazard is the chemical runoff, the water then flows to a river by means of the surface water runoff. The targets of fish, crustaceans, and algae all either ingest or contact the chemical runoff. The chemicals are then absorbed and metabolized when the target processes the chemical.

    The toxicity of the exposed depends of the population, size and potency of the chemicals but ultimately it can cause birth defects or mortality in the species in the river. Environmental Policy is typically broken down into the different pathways through which the environment is exposed to stressors hazards. These include air quality, surface water quality, ground water health, soil health, solid waste management, and food safety.

    Additionally there is legislation that focuses on the Environmental Impacts themselves, which typically requires an environmental impact statement EIS to prove that the environmental impact will be limited. Historically environmental legislation is difficult to implement because it is not only a local issue, but also a regional issue as well as global issue.

    Global groups like the United Nations greatly assist in unifying the ideas and policies. The following includes a list of regulatory sources for environmental policy. This is included to provide an idea of what the different regions and countries have done to reduce environmental impact and because one possible outcome of this research is additional legislation it was decided to include examples from around the world.

    The United Nations provides guidance on their version of an environmental impact assessment through their Economics and Trade Branch that is under the Environment program. UN, n. This regional group works to improve collaboration across the region. AECEN, n. The European Union is a collection of Nations on the European continent. Evaluating the environmental impact of fire would beneficial on the design period of a building, by including in a decision making process. The analysis tools mentioned above, offer a useful starting point to evaluate a product, process, or new legislation aimed at promoting or incorporating an environmental impact assessments.

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    There are several steps that could be taken to improve access to useful tools, methodologies and frameworks pertaining to the environmental impact of fire. The tools for analyzing the environmental impact have the potential to help in decision making, by displaying an analysis of different factors for stakeholders.

    The CRC handbook compiles several decision making tools with different advantages for decision making, including matrices, life-cycle analysis, looking at effects on the ecology, looking at effect on the future, and risk measurement. Table 5 is an example of a matrix technique that can be used to rate the criteria in terms of the impact.

    This is a powerful tool to break down environmental effects and their sources. For example, a small scale residential fire event can be analyzed as below:. The impacts range from adverse to not applicable and can be quickly estimated based upon a qualitative assessment. The initial assessment considers the atmosphere which corresponds to the impact severity classification based on the different phases of the fire. The fire plume effluents are the buoyant products of combustion that are carried upwards and dispersed through the air.

    The fire department intervention describes the impacts resulting from fire department intervention. The long term effects column describes what impacts the environment will be affected by in the months or year after the fire. The resultant quality of the environment is different than the long term effects in that it describes the result of the aftermath of the fire, and gives an idea as to the severity of the effects. The application of a life cycle analysis LCA for observing the environmental impacts of fire is made easier by the prevalent use of this tool in other fields.

    Tools already exist, utilizing a LCA, for designers to understand the impact of choosing one material or building method over another. This example is especially pertinent, because it performs an adaptation to the typical LCA process to create the streamlined life cycle assessment SLCA. The SLCA is useful as a decision tool to compare the relative magnitude of impacts between two or more choices.

    It simplifies the process by selecting inputs that were found to be the most restrictive factors in a typically LCA. The factors used include emissions and qualitative measurements of water and land impacts. By linking generalized emissions data the result is easier to obtain a comparison between two different data sources. The differences between the inputs for the LCA and the SLCA are applied at the point where the system inputs are translated to the system processes and then to outputs.

    By simplifying the processes in the system the input effects can summarized and more efficiently translated into the system outputs. This simplifies the most restrictive part of an LCA; the amount and complexity of the inputs that are required. However in this example the number of inputs is simplified by generalizing the emissions factors, and by using scoring factors to characterize the impacts on the water and land. A spider graph is a different tool than the matrix approach, with the advantage is that the ultimate outcome is a visual, where the scenario with the largest area corresponds to the most severe environmental impact.

    A visual of the differences between two options can reveal how the items in question vary and which choices lead to the least environmental impact. Additionally, because the impacts are normalized the value of the environmental impact for each criterion offers a clear comparison of each alternative. Risk characterization is part of a process that begins with the formation of a problem and ends with a decision Understanding Risk, The multidimensionality of risk and the many ways it can be viewed help explain why risk characterizations sometimes lack authority for some of the interested and affected parties when making a decision, even when the characterizations are supported by high-quality analysis.

    Problem formulation has practical implications for other steps in the risk decision process in the way that it shapes choices about which options to consider and which possible adverse outcomes to analyze. A risk characterization must consider the range of plausible decision options to meet the needs of participants in a decision, to avoid being seen as biased and inadequate. Organizations responsible for risk characterizations should make efforts to identify the range of decision options that experts and the spectrum of interested and affected parties consider viable.

    This process demands familiarity with the context of decision, knowledge about scientific and technical aspects of the possible risks, and sometimes creativity and imagination.


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    One important outcome of decision making tools is to assess the harm to nonhuman organisms and ecosystems Understanding Risk, An analysis can be challenging as it is difficult to determine the effects on individual animals or plants, local populations of a certain species, an ecosystems, or on the survival of endangered species. Ecological risk analysis requires an understanding of how the affected ecosystem functions. These effects are difficult to measure and are still being studied to understand the outcome. Qualitative assessments of ecological risks can provide useful insights for environmental decision making.

    There is a need to develop appropriate tools for assessing the value of ecological systems, including both economic and noneconomic values. Decisions which have an effect on future generations require a different kind of consideration from immediate concerns Understanding Risk, The largest wildfires in history have been over the last decade and are fueled by drought, disease and hotter temperatures as well as forest management techniques.

    This problem is made up of both environmental factors as well as management decisions and changes in population locations that in combination are resulting in large challenges for the current generation. Large forest fires leave damage on the environment as it burns down trees, produces effluents, and kills lives of plants, insects and animals, however opposed to small fires is the temperatures at which larger fires burn.

    The hotter temperatures cause much more of the soil to be burned causing sterility in the top layer and limits the ability for new growth. The results might not lead to an immediate negative influence, but the releases of toxic materials and physical change of the land could cause harm in the future. A large loss of species could lead to change in an ecosystem, which could lead to a potential damage on the environment. Browser Compatibility Notification. It appears you are trying to access this site using an outdated browser. As a result, parts of the site may not function properly for you.

    We recommend updating your browser to its most recent version at your earliest convenience. Sectors Toggle Section. Environmental Strategy Consultation. Finding a remedy for difficult and complex sites is only one part of the equation. Our services include: Administrative process agency involvement, legal agreements, etc.