A study of graphical representations of uncertainty in LCA guide

Melissa Tensa*, Jenna Wang, Roscoe Harris, Jeremy Faludi, Bryony DuPont

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


This study user-tested different data visualizations for highly uncertain life cycle assessments (LCAs) to determine what best supported decision-making. Precise LCAs can only be performed once designs are finalized, due to the information necessary to complete them, but design changes in such late stages are costly. If designers could have environmental impact data earlier in the process, sustainable design choices could instead be built into the initial designs. We compiled LCAs for various product categories, finding the best means of visualizing the data for online and printable dissemination. Because this LCA data varied widely within each product category, it was necessary to display uncertainty and require users to acknowledge the uncertainty. Here, four different data visualizations were tested with engineering, design, and STEM students and professionals; both quantitative and qualitative analysis determined what visualizations were most favored and forced users to consider uncertainty. We hope that this research helps LCA data be more accessible to designers and engineers in the early phases of design, allowing those without the resources or ability to perform LCA to benefit from it and design more sustainably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


  • Design engineering
  • Sustainability
  • Visualisation


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