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Mobius - How to: Add impact to your model using datasets
Mobius - How to: Add impact to your model using datasets

Learn the basics of adding impact to objects by linking to datasets from a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database in Ecochain Mobius.

Emily Lalonde avatar
Written by Emily Lalonde
Updated this week

Adding impact to items in Mobius is essential for conducting accurate Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and understanding the environmental footprint of your products. Put differently, if you want to know the environmental impact of your product, you need to learn how to add impact. Often, adding impact to your model in Mobius involves using datasets from Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) databases - which can be a challenging task in the beginning. In this article, we outline some preliminary methods and tricks for adding impact to items in Mobius. This article covers the following questions:

  1. How to search for datasets?

  2. How to reduce the number of datasets through filtering?

  3. How to choose between datasets?

  4. Are there other resources available?

  5. How to change and remove datasets?

Don't feel like reading an article? Watch video tutorials on adding impact and selecting the right dataset instead!

Feel like you're missing information? This article builds upon the following articles, check them out if you want to learn more:

How to search for datasets?

Once you have started to build your product’s inventory (e.g., added the bill of materials), you have the objects you want to model, but your impact score is zero. You need to add impact to your model! Of course, when available, it is always best to use real, primary environmental data where possible (i.e., by adding custom impact). However, primary environmental data isn’t usually available for all the items in your inventory. When this is unavailable, you can add impact using datasets. We outline the high-level steps of this process in this section. In later subsections, we provide more specific tips and tricks.

1. Select the item to add impact to: Click the Add impact button on the right side of the item line (Figure 1). After you select this button, the Add impact page will appear on your screen. You may notice that not all of the items in your product’s inventory have the Add impact button. This is usually because these items are your parent items - they consist of other objects or subitems and are on a higher hierarchical level. The impact of these parent items is the sum of the impacts of their respective subitems.

Figure 1: Selecting the Add impact button for an item in Mobius.

2. Select the right database: Filter for the correct database using the Database selector in the Filters section of the Add impact page (Figure 2). There are different databases in Mobius. However, the most extensive one is Ecoinvent. This article will focus on Ecoinvent, however, you should use the database, and database version, that corresponds with your Impact assessment method (found in Workspace settings -> Impact settings).

Figure 2: Selecting or filtering for a specific database in Mobius.

Pro tip - Database filtering: If you don’t know, or are unsure, of which database (version) to use, we recommend choosing the most recent version of Ecoinvent, when possible. The most recent version will have more options, more up-to-date, and more reliable datasets. You will find the most recent version of Ecoinvent at the top of the dropdown listing all currently available LCI databases in Mobius.

3. Use keywords: Navigate to the Search Bar in the Database search tab in Mobius. Enter relevant keywords related to the item or object you wish to assess (Figure 3). If you’re stuck, or unsure what keywords to enter, you can get started by using the suggestions for search terms that appear below the Search Bar.

Pro tip - Synonyms: Sometimes the keywords or the words you use to describe what you’re looking for will not yield the desired results. If you’re running into this issue, try using synonyms, scientific names, and other means of describing the object you need a dataset for. For example, the dataset for ‘cardboard’ is ‘corrugated board box’ - a synonym for cardboard, or use ‘lorry’ when you’re looking to model the impact of transporting items with a truck.

Figure 3: Using keywords in the Search Bar in Mobius.

Pro tip - Check the dataset results: It’s important to periodically check (i.e., after each step) if your search results are narrowing down and presenting datasets that are aligned with what you’re looking for.

4. Choose between ‘Market for’ and ‘Production’ datasets: Generally, there are two types of datasets in Ecoinvent - ‘Market for’ and ‘Production’. Most datasets have one of these two in their name.

  • Market for’ datasets contain average production and transport impact for a certain region and are, therefore, representative of materials from a distributor.

  • ‘Production’ datasets include the impact of the production only but do not include transport to (your) factory. Read more here.

Pro tip - ‘Market for’ datasets: Generally, ‘market for’ datasets should be used unless your business purchases something directly from the production facility, then you can model the transport element based on your own, primary data. ‘Market for’ datasets can also be used when you do not have a lot of information about an object. For example, if you are getting an item from a distributor and do not know where or how it is made, you can always use a ‘Market for’ dataset as a ‘worst case’ approach.

5. Review and select a dataset: Review the search results to identify datasets that match your criteria. Select the most appropriate dataset and add it to your model by selecting the green Add button to incorporate impact data (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Adding an impact dataset to your item in Mobius.

Pro-tip - Dataset description: Unsure of whether a dataset is a good fit for your object? Click on More information (Figure 4) to read the Dataset description.

How to reduce the number of datasets through filtering?

When searching for datasets, you may notice many search results, or that the datasets do not meet your object’s specifications (e.g., unrelated object, wrong location, etc.). Filtering and refining your search strategy is the most effective method to narrow down these options and add impact to your model.

1. Select your desired database: Filtering for databases is a great first step in narrowing down your results (Figure 5). We already described this process in Step 2 of the section above.

Figure 5: The filtering options in Mobius.

2. Filter for a specific production location: Filter based on location in the Filters section of the Add impact page (Figure 5).

  • Region: Try filtering for a region (e.g., Europe).

  • Rest-of-world: A rest-of-world dataset represents every region except the specific regions that might be available for the same activity.

  • Global: Global datasets are representative of the entire world.

3. Use categories to narrow your search results: All datasets are grouped into one of the 17 categories visible at the bottom of the Filters section of the Add impact page (Figure 5). Select the category that matches the object you want to find a dataset for. This may narrow down your search results and make the search results more representative.

4. Review and select a dataset: Review the filtered search results to identify datasets that align with your requirements. Select the most appropriate dataset and add it to your model by selecting the green Add button to incorporate impact data.

Video tutorials

Watch Emma explain the basic functionalities of adding impact in this tutorial:

Watch Emma explain how to search for datasets in this tutorial:

How to choose between datasets?

After you’ve searched for datasets and filtered your results, it still might be challenging to decide between datasets - especially if they look similar! There are a few things you can do to help with this decision, which we’ve highlighted below:

1. The dataset’s naming structure: Dataset names consist of three main parts (Figure 6).

Figure 6: The featured dataset information in Mobius.

  • The second part of the name: This is the first thing you should pay attention to. This input should match or be representative of the item you are searching for.

  • The first part of the name: The first part of the name describes the production process that is used to create the output described in the second part of the dataset title. This is relevant because there are typically multiple ways an object is produced which will in turn affect its environmental impact. For example, the same object - woven cotton textile - is produced by ‘textile cotton weaving’, but also by ‘woven cotton produced by textile production, cotton air jet loom weaving’.

  • The third part of the name: The third part of the name is not as relevant as the first two parts. It indicates the type of database we’re using. In this example, there is only one type - Cuttoff, U. Read more about allocation and cut-off here.

2. The region: As mentioned in the previous subsection, you can filter for specific regions. However, if you haven’t filtered on this field, it is relevant to look at the location when deciding between datasets. This is visible below the dataset name in the light gray section (Figure 6).

3. The units: The unit for which the dataset is expressed is located beside the region (Figure 6).

Pro tip - Dataset units: The dataset unit tends to be overlooked when it is an extremely important element. Be aware of whether the object in your inventory is expressed in the same unit as the unit of the dataset you’re considering to link to it. Is there a mismatch between your unit, and the considered dataset’s unit? Take a look at this article about properties that can help you out!

4. Dataset version: Again, you can filter on the version of the dataset you need, which is also visible with the dataset information (Figure 6).

5. More information: Unsure of whether a dataset applies to your object? Click on More information to get a full description of the dataset. This may give you extra information to feel confident selecting a dataset.

Still can't find an appropriate dataset? You can always book a free 30-minute meeting with an in-house expert to help you!

Video Tutorial

Watch Emma explain how to select the right dataset in this tutorial:

Are there other impact data resources available?

Are you still having trouble adding impact and finding the right dataset? That’s okay, this is a challenging topic. We have outlined some additional resources for you below:

Talk to an expert

You can always book a free 30-minute meeting with an in-house expert to help you!

Mobius tours

We have three tours on the Add impact page under the ‘Get Help’ button in Mobius (Figure 7). These are helpful as they explain these concepts directly in the Mobius tool.

Figure 7: Adding impact help tours in Mobius.

Add custom impact

If you’re unable to find representative datasets via Database search, consider adding impact via custom impact.

Understanding ecoinvent

If you're completely new, and are viewing ecoinvent for the first time, take a look at this free ecoinvent fundamentals course offered by ecoinvent themselves!

We also have another ecoinvent article that goes more in-depth.

Check out other Help Center articles

How to change and remove datasets?

If you need to modify or remove a dataset from your model, you can easily do so within your product’s inventory in Mobius. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the object for which you wish to modify or remove the dataset: Click the object’s line item containing the dataset you want to remove.

  2. Edit or remove the dataset: Locate the name of the dataset in the Impact section of the Detail panel (Figure 8).

    1. Edit: Change the dataset by clicking on the pencil.

    2. Remove: Remove the dataset by selecting the x.

Figure 8: Changing and removing datasets in Mobius.

Next Steps

Congratulations! You've learned the key steps to adding impact to items from LCI databases in Mobius and refining your search results. Now, you can effectively incorporate environmental impact data into your product assessments and drive sustainable decision-making.

Ready to explore more features within Mobius? Check out our other help center articles for comprehensive guidance on maximizing your ecodesign potential.

Good luck with your sustainable product modeling journey in Mobius!

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