Welcome to the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database Newsletter. This newsletter covers news and updates about the database and is published quarterly. Learn more about the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database.
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The use of life cycle assessment (LCA) is increasing tremendously, and we are working hard to keep up with its growth and ever-changing landscape. Stay with us as we make exciting changes and watch the database grow dramatically over the next few years.
In this edition:
- U.S. LCI Database Protocol Redevelopment
- Building Data Gap Analysis
- UNEP/SETAC Workshop
- Updated Electricity Datasets
- U.S. LCI Database/USDA LCI Library Collaboration
- LCA Data Commons
- NREL/NETL Dataset Collaboration
- Data Mining
- PCR Development
- Datasets (new/updated)
U.S. LCI Database Protocol Redevelopment
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) contracted with the Athena Institute to revise and update the U.S. LCI Database protocols. The protocols were presented for review at the March 2010 LCI Workshop in Washington, D.C., hosted by NREL, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Athena Institute incorporated feedback from the results of the workshop into a second draft of the protocols, which was released for a 30-day public comment period in December 2010. The protocols document will be finalized once additional funding is available.
Building Data Gap Analysis
The Athena Institute conducted a buildings data gap analysis to review major building components and materials, worked with North American life cycle analysis consultants to determine the data that had been developed and the availability of the data for public use. The results of this analysis will ultimately help to determine where to target data collection efforts, and will be published in a report to be distributed in October 2011.
Alberta Carpenter, NREL, represented the U.S. LCI Database in the joint United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) workshop to develop global guidance for LCI data and databases. The Japanese Society of Non-Traditional Technology in Tokyo hosted the workshop, which took place at Shonan Village in Japan in February 2011, and involved stakeholders from the Americas, Europe, Asian and Africa. The workshop focused on all aspects of collecting, processing, qualifying and applying LCI data, particularly as it is intended to be supplied for dissemination and use in publicly available datasets and databases. A draft document was produced at the end of the workshop and underwent an external review. The publication was presented at the Life Cycle Management conference in Berlin in late August 2011 and is currently in the process of being published. Additional information on the project is available at the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative website.
Updated Electricity Datasets
NREL contracted with the Athena Institute to develop a methodology to periodically update electricity datasets for eGRID, interconnect, national and state level grid systems based on the Energy Information Administration's periodic electricity grid updates. Datasets for eGRID, interconnect and national level grid systems have been derived from this methodology and were posted to the U.S. LCI Database in July 2011.
U.S. LCI Database/USDA LCI Library Collaboration
The U.S. LCI Database team has been communicating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) LCI library project to coordinate efforts to connect the U.S. LCI Database with the USDA LCI datasets when they are up and running. The USDA has been using the OpenLCA software to develop a platform, and is working to operate the platform within the protocols defined by the U.S. LCI Database to ensure compatibility and seamlessness of the systems.
LCA Data Commons
NREL has been participating in an interagency working group to propose and develop a life cycle assessment (LCA) Data Commons that will provide greater access to the public as well as to all government agencies to data developed by government agencies. The interagency group is primarily being led by U.S. EPA, USDA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The goal is to eliminate duplicate efforts in data gathering by different agencies, provide a consistency in data usage and make the data more easily available for public usage.
NREL/NETL Dataset Collaboration
NREL and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are collaborating on providing access to NETL-developed datasets. These include more than 150 datasets covering construction, operation and manufacturing, for various feedstocks (uranium, wind, natural gas, biomass, coal, and petroleum) as well as raw material processing, transportation, energy conversion, and transmission. NETL is working to have the data made available through the U.S. LCI Database in the fall of 2011.
The Institute for Environmental Research and Education (IERE) was contracted to investigate data mining opportunities in the public domain. The goal of this project is to attempt to gather life cycle inventory modules from several local jurisdictions as a method of developing life cycle inventory unit process modules for the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory database. The IERE is working with four different jurisdictions who have expressed interest: Tacoma, Washington; King County (Seattle), Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Austin, Texas.
IERE was contracted to do a pilot run on Product Category Rule (PCR) development for the building materials industry. They have been working with representatives from the windows industry to develop a PCR for the industry. IERE will provide a report on the PCR development process for use by other industries to provide some insight when developing their own industry PCRs.
NREL has had a surge of new and updated datasets from several different organizations as well as internally.
- National, interconnect and eGRID Electricity grids (new and updated) (37)
- American Chemistry Council Virgin Resin (new and updated) (74)
- ORRIM wood products (new) (41)
- U.S. Soy Board Soybean (new) (6)
- International Zinc Association Zinc (new) (2)
- Aircraft transport (corrected) (1)
- EPS Insulation (new) (1)
- CORRIM Glue Laminated beam processing (corrected) (2)
- Starchtech Biodegradable loose fill (new) (1)
- CORRIM wood combustion (corrections) (6)
- U.S. EPA MOVES2010 Transportation (new and updated) (156)
- NETL energy datasets (being coordinated)
- NREL bioethanol (in progress) (58)
- Fossil fuel combustion (corrections) (6)