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Life Cycle City

America’s First Life Cycle City

Using life cycle thinking for policies and business practices in operations and decision making.

In January 2011, the City Council adopted a Life Cycle City Resolution 38188 that expresses the City's support of life-cycle assessments and life-cycle thinking in its relevant legislation and management decisions and encourages the public and private entities within the city to do the same.


This resolution commits the City of Tacoma to provide our utility inventory data for businesses in their label use, which creates a marketing advantage.  Educating our staff on life cycle thinking and working with others in the community to support life cycle capacity ensures that the life cycle impacts of our decisions, purchases, and actions are taken into consideration.


What is a Life Cycle Assessment?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the science of measuring the environmental performance of products and services from cradle to grave. These outputs can be represented like a nutrition label, only disclosing the environmental impacts like the carbon footprint, water use, and many other impact indicators These labels are called Environmental Product Declarations or EPD’s. Around the world, the use of LCA as a policy tool is increasing. Most interesting is the application of LCA to marketing and EPD labels.


When companies perform LCAs of their products, they collect available data about their resource use. When they locate their business in a place where the impacts of using those resources are low (because the utilities are well-managed) like here in Tacoma, the benefits of clean utilities get embedded in the impacts of the product and are reflected in the EPD label.


Publishing Tacoma’s utility (water, electricity, solid waste, wastewater, stormwater) life cycle inventories is a way for Tacoma to align economic advantage with environmental performance. Communities, like Tacoma, that can show that they have a smaller  "environmental footprint" compared to national averages, contribute to the community’s health and quality of life and position the city as a desirable location for industries that want to minimize their impact on the environment.