Review of Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) Methods and Inventory Databases

  • You WuEmail author
  • Daizhong Su


In this chapter, a wide range of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods, new initiative for reducing emissions and improving resource efficiency, and Product Environmental Footprint are examined, in order to introduce the research tendency in this filed and clarify the differences among these Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods. The LCIA methods are broadly categorized as resource based and emission based. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database are also investigated, and the features of the generic LCI database are presented. The data formats of the ecoinvent database are deeply examined, with the aim of clarifying the attributes, types of each data components to help users to understand the role of inventory database in the practices.


Life cycle assessment Life cycle impact assessment method Environmental product declarations Product environmental footprint Life cycle inventory Life cycle inventory database EcoSpold 



The authors acknowledge the support received from the CIRC4Life project (Grant agreement number: 776503) supported by the European Commission’s Circular Economy programme.


  1. Ahlroth, P., Alatalo, R. V., & Suhonen, J. (2010). Reduced dispersal propensity in the wingless waterstrider Aquarius najas in a highly fragmented landscape. Oecologia, 162(2), 323–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen, O. (2013). Consequential life cycle environmental impact assessment. Unintended consequences of renewable energy (pp. 35–45). London: Green Energy and Technology and Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bare, J. (2011). TRACI 2.0: The tool for the reduction and assessment of chemical and other environmental impacts 2.0. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 13(5), 687–696.Google Scholar
  4. BSI, British Standard Institution. (2011). Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services. London.Google Scholar
  5. Bulle, C., et al. (2014). Comparing IMPACT World+ with other LCIA methodologies at end-point level using the Stepwise weighting factors. Retrieved 21 April, 2016, from
  6. Chiu, M.-C., & Chu, C.-H. (2012). Review of sustainable product design from life cycle perspectives. International Journal of Precision Engineering and Manufacturing, 13(7), 1259–1272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ciroth, A. (2014). openLCA 1.4 overview and first steps (pp. 1–31). Retrieved 15 December, 2015, from
  8. E, M. R., et al. (2013). ecoEditor–ecoinvent. Retrieved 12 February, 2017, from
  9. EarthShift. (2015). DataSmart life cycle inventory. Retrieved 27 April, 2016, from
  10. ecoinvent. (n.d.). ecoEditor for ecoinvent version 3 ecoinvent, ed. ecoinvent. Retrieved 12 March, 2017, from
  11. European Commission. (2011a). Analysis of existing environmental footprint methodologies for products and organizations: Recommendations, rationale, and alignment (pp. 1–61). Retrieved 20 April, 2016a, from
  12. European Commission. (2011b). International reference life cycle data system (ILCD) handbook-framework and requirements for life cycle impact assessment models and indicators (pp. 1–116). Retrieved 19 December, 2015b, from
  13. European Commission. (2012). Options for resource efficiency indicators. Retrieved 26 December, 2016, from
  14. European Commission. (2006a). Impact assessment guidelines (pp. 1–49). Retrieved 15 December, 2015, from
  15. European Commission. (2016b). Single market for green products-the product environmental footprint pilots-environment-European commission. Retrieved 26 December, 2016, from
  16. Fantke, P., et al. (2015). USEtox 2.0 user manual (Version2) (pp. 1–30). Retrieved 21 April, 2016, from
  17. Finkbeiner, M. ed., (2011). Towards life cycle sustainability management. Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
  18. Finkbeiner, M. (2013). From the 40s to the 70s—the future of LCA in the ISO 14000 family. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18(1), 1–4.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frischknecht, R., & Knöpfel, S. B. (2014). Ecological scarcity 2013—new features and its application in industry and administration—54th LCA forum, Ittigen/Berne, Switzerland, December 5, 2013. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 19(6), 1361–1366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frischknecht, R., & Rebitzer, G. (2005). The ecoinvent database system: A comprehensive web-based LCA database. Journal of Cleaner Production, 13(13–14), 1337–1343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Garcia, R., & Freire, F. (2014). Carbon footprint of particleboard: A comparison between ISO/TS 14067, GHG Protocol, PAS 2050 and Climate Declaration. Journal of Cleaner Production, 66(C), 199–209.Google Scholar
  22. Garraín, D., et al. (2015). Background qualitative analysis of the European Reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD) energy datasets-part I: Fuel datasets. SpringerPlus, 4(1), 151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goedkoop, M., et al. (2009). ReCiPe 2008. A life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level; First edition Report I: Characterisation; 6 January 2009.
  24. Guinée, J. B. (2002). Handbook on life cycle assessment operational guide to the ISO standards. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 7(5), 311–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hischier, R., et al. (2010). Implementation of life cycle impact assessment methods data, v2.2 (2010), ecoinvent report No. 3. Retrieved 20 April, 2016, from
  26. IMPACT World. (2016). IMPACT World. Retrieved 29 June, 2016, from
  27. ISO. (2006a). 14040: Environmental management–life cycle assessment–principles and framework. London: British Standards Institution.Google Scholar
  28. ISO. (2006b). ISO 14044: Environmental management-life cycle assessment-requirements and guidelines. International Organization for Standardization.Google Scholar
  29. Kerkhof, A., et al. (2017) Evaluation report: Technical evaluation of the EU EF pilot phase. Available at:
  30. LC-IMPACT. (2016). LC-IMPACT. Retrieved 24 July, 2016, from
  31. Li, T., et al. (2013). Environmental emissions and energy consumptions assessment of a diesel engine from the life cycle perspective. Journal of Cleaner Production, 53(C), 7–12.Google Scholar
  32. Manfredi, S., et al. (2012). Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide. Retrieved 26 December, 2016, from
  33. Pastor, M. C., Mathieux, F., & Brissaud, D. (2014). Influence of environmental European product policies on product design-current status and future developments. Procedia CIRP, 21, 415–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pelletier, N., et al. (2012). Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide. Retrieved 26 December, 2016, from
  35. Ponsioen, T. C., Vieira, M. D. M., & Goedkoop, M. J. (2014). Surplus cost as a life cycle impact indicator for fossil resource scarcity. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 19(4), 872–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. PRé. (2012). Life cycle-based sustainability—standards & guidelines (pp. 1–6). Retrieved 20 April, 2016, from
  37. PRé. (2015). SimaPro database manual methods library (pp. 1–82). Retrieved 19 December, 2015, from
  38. Skarvelis-Kazakos, S., Cipcigan, L. M., & Jenkins, N. (2009). Micro-generation for 2050: Life-cycle carbon footprint of micro-generation sources. In 2009 Proceedings of the 44th International on Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC) (pp. 1–5). IEEE.Google Scholar
  39. Suh, S., et al. (2013). Interoperability between ecoinvent ver. 3 and US LCI database: A case study. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 1–9.Google Scholar
  40. Weidema, B. P., et al. (2013). Overview and methodology: Data quality guideline for the ecoinvent database version 3. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories.Google Scholar
  41. Weisbrod, A. V., & Van Hoof, G. (2011). LCA-measured environmental improvements in Pampers® diapers. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 17(2), 145–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Whittaker, C., McManus, M. C., & Smith, P. (2013). A comparison of carbon accounting tools for arable crops in the United Kingdom. Environmental Modelling & Software, 46(C), 228–239.Google Scholar
  43. Wiedmann, T.O., et al. (2015). The material footprint of nations.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(20), 6271–6276.Google Scholar
  44. Wood, R., et al. (2015). Global sustainability accounting—developing EXIOBASE for multi-regional footprint analysis. Sustainability, 7(1), 138–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre, School of Architecture, Design and the Built EnvironmentNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations