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The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Format – Basic Concepts and Implementation of Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) Method Data Sets

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Shaker Verlag


In the context of its efforts to facilitate environmental sustainability, the European Commission is promoting and supporting the use of life cycle data and tools through its European Platform on LCA. Objectives of this project are to develop the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook as authoritative guidance on LCA, to contribute key European scope quality data sets via the European Reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD) as well as to implement the ILCD Data Network as infrastructure for LCA data, open to all data developers. Both the ELCD database and the ILCD Data Network rely on the ILCD data format as reference format and for data exchange. In the initial release of the ILCD data format, only a draft specification for LCIA method data sets had been included, which has been enhanced and finalized in the meantime, addressing feedback from an earlier public stakeholder consultation process and reflecting insights when documenting the ILCD-recommended LCIA methods. The finalized ILCD method dataset specification is now implemented in software and will enable tools to easily import and apply new LCIA methods documented in the ILCD data format. In this paper, the new LCIA method dataset specification and its corresponding software implementation are presented. The history and idea behind the data format is briefly addressed as well as how the adoption among tools and databases is progressing. The basic structure of the ILCD data format is presented, with the different data set types and their relationships to each other. Then, the structure of the LCIA method data set and its modeling capabilities are explained. Furthermore, technical considerations for tool integration are discussed. Briefly, an exemplary LCIA method instance data set of a draft recommended LCIA method for Europe, foreseen for release by the European Commission’s DG JRC, is presented to illustrate the use of the finalized dataset type implementation. Finally, an outlook on future developments is given.


Wolf, Marc-Andree; Kusche, Oliver; Düpmeier, Clemens (2011): The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Format – Basic Concepts and Implementation of Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) Method Data Sets. Innovations in Sharing Environmental Observations and Information. Aachen: Shaker Verlag. Information Technology for Life Cycle Analysis. Ispra. 2011