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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Berkeley Institute of the Environment (BIE) is a university-wide initiative for expanding and coordinating University of California, Berkeley interdisciplinary research and educational activities in environmental scholarship. The goals of BIE are:

  • Research - To create the best possible environment for faculty and students interested in the relationship of climate change to a sustainable society to launch interdisciplinary research.
  • Scholarship - To train tomorrow's environmental citizens, leaders, and scholars by greening the UC Berkeley curriculum through added specializations and designated emphases on climate change and societal transformation.
  • Partnership - To deepen and expand our collaborations with governments, National Labs, and industry at all scales to help build a resilient global economic system that can mitigate climate change and forge a sustainable society.

BIE projects are organized around three interconnected themes:

  1. Sustainable Communities - building environmental resilience at the local scales
  2. Environment and Society - understanding environmental function at regional scales
  3. Energy and Climate Change - evolving a carbon-free society at global scales
Cover page of Consumer-oriented Life Cycle Assessment of Food, Goods and Services

Consumer-oriented Life Cycle Assessment of Food, Goods and Services


Life cycle assessment is a powerful framework for economic, social, and environmental cost pricing of consumer goods and services. We have extended the capacity of input-output life cycle assessment to approximate cradle-to-consumer environmental impacts from the manufacturing, transport and trade of >600 categories of consumer products and services. On average, 23 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases are embodied in the food, goods and services consumed by U.S. households. Particularly promising opportunities exist to provide environmental information directly to consumers for products at the point of sale. At a cost of $10/tCO2, we estimate that incorporating the mitigation cost of carbon would add only about 0.5% to the price of goods and services, and 1% to the price of food. This information can lead to the creation of market-based incentives for more sustainable consumption and production.

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