This article explains LCIA methods and those that are commonly used to measure environmental impact.
Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods are the way environmental impacts are quantified and calculated in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). During the LCA, raw data on emissions, waste and material production are collected, which then need to be translated into a numerical result ready for interpretation.
Measuring the variety of ways the environment is affected and quantifying the impacts is not a simple task due to the complexity and interconnectedness of the environment. LCIA methods tackle this challenge by grouping and categorizing types of impacts that processes have on various aspects of the environment, such as water use, climate change or toxicity. Different emissions that cause the same impact are converted into one unit that translates into one impact category. So, the result of an LCA is presented in terms of these different categories.
Different methods quantify different impact categories depending on what the main focus of the study is. Standards might require the use of a specific LCIA method, or require reporting on certain impact categories.
On this page you can find a short description of some of the most common LCIA methods.
EN15804+A2 (EU construction sector)
The EN15804 standard initiated by the EU in 2012, defines how- especially construction- companies should create their Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). The standard is important as it makes sure that the EPD’s in the construction sector are all transparent and comparable- in turn making the construction sector more fair and transparent. In the Netherlands, the EN15804 is the foundation for the SBK Bepalingsmethode.
En15804 is a norm that allows the assessment of the sustainability of construction works. The norm is formally known as the EN15804 + A2 “Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the product category of construction products”.
On June 2019, EN15804 was revised and accepted by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). The revised version of EN15804 makes the EPD’s more aligned with the European Commission’s ‘Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)’. The PEF is a new methodology and standard, initiated by the EU, that will steer organizations to perform more reliable environmental measurements and aims at creating a level-playing field for all EU country members. This also means that the construction sectors of all EU members need to become more aligned.
EF method is the impact assessment method of Environmental Footprint initiative. The implementation is based on EF method v3.0. The Environmental Footprint initiative was led by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. The project officially began in 2013 and it has been divided into 2 phases: Pilot phase (2013-2018) and Transition phase (2019-ongoing).
SBK Bepalingsmethode (Dutch construction sector)
The Bepalingsmethode is a uniform measurement method for calculating the environmental performance of construction works unambiguously, verifiably and reproducibly. This creates a level playing field for all parties involved. The environmental performance of various building designs can be compared, with the aim of reducing the ultimate environmental impact of a building.
The basis for the Determination Method is the European standard EN 15804. The EN 15804 sets methodical requirements for European Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), an official document that demonstrates the environmental impact of a product. An EPD is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA), a method that calculates the environmental impact of a product over the entire life cycle. For the preparation and use of EPDs for the environmental performance of construction works in the Dutch context, the EN15804 has been incorporated and supplemented with scenarios applicable to the Netherlands in the Determination Method.
ReCiPe Midpoint was developed in 2008 by RIVM, CML, PRé Consultants and the Radboud University Nijmegen on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. It translates emissions and resource extractions into environmental impact scores (CFs). The method provides normalization factors for three scenarios (I), (H) and (E). Midpoint and endpoint indicators are available.
ReCiPe 2016 v1.1 midpoint method, Hierarchist version. This is the default ReCiPe midpoint method. The ReCiPe 2016 method is a new version of ReCiPe 2008 and it was created by RIVM, Radboud University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and PRé Consultants. Due to significant methodological differences, the results of ReCiPe 2008 and ReCipe 2016 cannot and should not be compared. In ReCiPe you can choose to use midpoint indicators or endpoint indicators. Each method has been created for three different perspectives. The method includes global normalisation factors for reference year 2010. Please mind that the factors in Global warming differ from the 100a time horizon in IPCC 2013 because climate-carbon feedback for non-CO2 GHGs is included.
Environmental Prices is a method developed by CE Delft for expressing environmental impacts in monetary unit. This implementation is based on midpoint-level environmental prices, meaning that the values of environmental themes are used as weighting set (as opposed to implementing the factors for individual substances). The characterisation step is based on ReCiPe (2008) Midpoint, hierarchist perspective, with an exception of Climate change (based on IPCC 2013) as prescribed by the developers. The environmental prices are not available for the following impact categories: Natural land transformation, Water, Metal and Fossil depletion.
PLEASE NOTE! Dutch Environmental Prices are average prices for average emissions in the Netherlands in 2015 and European Environmental Prices are based on EU28 emissions in 2015. They should not be used in other contexts.
In Ecochain Mobius you can freely select LCIA methods. Calculate your Product Footprint (LCA) using your preferred LCIA method.
And many more..
In Mobius you can freely select any of the other LCIA methods. Find them in your workspace settings. Please read about compatibility with the databases here.
The ones above and others including:
- Cumulative Energy Demand
- Ecological Scarcity 2006
- Ecosystem Damage Potential
- Environmental Footprint method v3.0
- ILCD Midpoint +
- IPCC 2013 GWP 100a
- ReCiPe 2006 Midpoint and Endpoint
- TRACI 2.1
- USETox 2