In order to understand sustainability, we must create a system that can measure the factors that affect the outcome. The Argonne GREET model (The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation) provides a standard of measurement for the real impact of transportation fuel, measuring a fuel from feedstock to production to combustion, with key factors taken into account, such as land use with respect to food production and habitat, water-quality impacts, and more, all in a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) measurement. The GREET model has been used and put to the test in the California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard (CARB LCFS) where it has demonstrated accurate assessment of comparisons in transportation systems.
LCI Lets Us Verify Reduced Carbon Intensity
We need to track carbon savings and use consistent, fair, scientific methods to document LCI. A system will only be usable if it can accommodate improvements at every level. That includes the farm, where it will create incentives for farmers to adopt even better growing practices. Only then will farmers be able to produce more raw materials for fuels, capture protein for the food supply, and more carbon dioxide from the air into soil. The GREET LCI is the measurement that needs to be adopted as the industry standard.
Think of products produced sustainably as the end result of the equations of everything that leads to them. Advanced bio-based renewable fuels could be considered a battery that stores renewable energy. All the additions to the fuel’s carbon score measured by the GREET LCI are taken into account, because this metric tracks carbon emissions and sequestration from all steps of the process, including the final combustion of the fuel.
When all factors come into the equation, then we can truly evaluate carbon emission intensity. Different types of greenhouse gases (GHG) are understood to have diverse effect on the environment. The GHG intensity of each process will help the manufacturer of a product determine what to go after first to help reduce the number. The carbon intensity of methane, for example, is considered more destructive than carbon dioxide. Targeting methane sources first will help drive down a product’s impact in the LCI.