The environmental handprint approach to assessing and communicating the positive environmental impacts: Final report of the Environmental Handprint project

Saija Vatanen, Kaisa Grönman, Katri Behm, Tiina Pajula, Laura Lakanen, Heli Kasurinen, Risto Soukka, Lotta Hepo-oja, Kim Lindfors, Matias Alarotu

Research output: Book/ReportReport


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and LUT University have developed an approach for quantifying the environmental handprint based on standardized methods on life cycle assessment. Since the publication of the carbon handprint approach in 2018, the research work has continued to extend the applicability of the framework to incorporate other positive environmental impacts in addition to greenhouse gas emissions. Examples used in the development of the methodology covered water, nutrient, air quality and resource handprint calculations. Moreover, we have discussed how to address environmental handprints at corporate and project levels. The environmental handprint work was conducted in cooperation with 16 industrial partners representing different business areas, products and services, and has thus benefitted from insider understanding of the varying requirements that arise from diverse operating environments. Similarities between different cases have been identified leading to the creation of a framework that helps to define baselines and take the required calculation steps.

The framework for the environmental handprint and case studies of the development work are presented in this final report. A step-by-step guide directs you through the process of assessing and communicating the carbon or other environmental handprint of a product or a service in line with life cycle assessment and footprint methods. In contrast to an environmental footprint, which refers to the negative environmental impacts caused throughout the life cycle of a product or a service, the term handprint represents positive environmental impacts. A footprint and a handprint are separate measurements. It would be necessary to set targets in both: minimizing the footprint and maximizing the handprint.

The handprint of a product or a service is achieved by comparing the footprint of the studied solution against the footprint of the baseline solution. The handprint can be used for e.g. environmental strategies based on facts and science, identification of improvement potential, product and production development, comparison of alternative raw materials, technologies, and business solutions, marketing and communication, supporting political decision-making and supporting decision-making of customers and other stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages124
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-8752-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesVTT Technology


  • handprint
  • footprint
  • environmental handprint
  • carbon handprint
  • carbon footprint
  • positive environmental impact
  • life cycle assessment
  • LCA


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