What’s brewing in the SimaPro LCA databases?

Several new or updated libraries and methods will be released in SimaPro 8.0.3. Each library or method is a valuable addition to the SimaPro library and broadens your options for doing studies the way you want to do them.

Update: SimaPro 8.0.3 has been released on May 26, 2014. Read more about this release here.

Adding more databases will make SimaPro even more flexible, giving you the opportunity to choose the specific LCA dataset your study requires and making your analysis more accurate and insightful. We’ve recently released Ecoinvent v3 in SimaPro. The IPCC has issued new global warming potential factors, and we’ll soon implement them in SimaPro and other third-party databases.  At this moment, we are working on the implementation of a new data source called Agri-footprint, which fulfils the need for more specific food and food related data. For Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods, the Ecological scarcity and EPD methods will be updated within the coming months. Even an update of the European reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD) is in the works: the Joint Research Centre (JRC), owner of the data in the ELCD, has started reviewing the data in several LCA datasets of the ELCD. After this is completed, PRé will offer a library update in SimaPro.

This article gives you a short run-through of all LCA database developments you can soon expect to see in SimaPro.

IPCC 2013: version 5 of the GWP factors for carbon footprinting

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released new characterisation factors for the emission of substances responsible for climate change. These IPCC 2013 factors include three different time horizons (20, 100 and 500 years) and will soon be implemented in SimaPro, replacing the previous IPCC method from 2007. The most prominent changes are that the factors of methane emissions have increased and those of N2O have decreased. Methane and N2O are important substances, especially in agricultural processes.

The IPCC 2007 method has been adopted by other method developers that focus on climate change in their LCIA method. If the method developers give their consent, PRé is planning to replace the IPCC 2007 with the new version in these methods as well, later this year.

Agri–footprint: new data for the agri-food sector

Agri-footprint, developed by Blonk Consultants, is a new data source that will become important for professionals in the food industry and other sectors. At the moment, LCA professionals don’t have access to an extended LCA library on food and food-related data. Agri-footprint contains about 150 unit processes which can be used as background processes in ISO 14040/14044 compliant LCAs of food, or LCAs compliant with the ENVIFOOD/Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) standards. It is based on the ELCD version 3 background database. The methodology and data has been independently reviewed.

Agri-footprint contains the following key inputs, among others:

  • Agricultural products such as grains, tubers, sugar cane and oil seed
  • Commodities such as the bio-ethanol, diary and meat products
  • Transport data
  • Key inputs in farming and industrial food processing such as artificial fertilizers, lime, acids and bases

Agri-footprint will be available in three libraries based on economic allocation, gross energy allocation, and mass allocation.  Economic allocation is the conventional way of allocating. Allocation based on gross energy is applicable to bio-fuels and mass allocation is appropriate for specific industries such as the starch industry.

Ecological Scarcity 2013: a significant update

The Ecological Scarcity method has been updated in 2013 and we are working on implementing this method in SimaPro. This method, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), calculates eco-factors representing Swiss conditions but can be applied in other countries and regions. Among others, this method provides additional eco-factors for traffic noise, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and metal and mineral sources.

EPD 2013: updated Environmental Product Declarations factors

The EPD 2013 method will replace the EPD 2008 method in the next release of SimaPro. EPD stands for Environmental Product Declaration. An EPD is always created according to a Product Category Rule. This update is especially important for everybody who is reporting a Product Category Rule (PCR) published by Environdec.

The characterisation factors used in the EPD 2013 method are selected from the recently updated CML-IA baseline and non-baseline methods. Featured impact categories are:

  • Global warming
  • Eutrophication
  • Photochemical oxidation
  • Acidification
  • Ozone layer depletion (optional)
  • Abiotic depletion (optional)

ELCD 3: more data, better data

The ELCD library in SimaPro will soon be updated to version 3, available since last year. The ELCD library supports Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) standards. This update is especially relevant for users who want to conduct PEF/OEF compliance studies. About twenty new datasets were included in the ELCD 3 library. The owner of the data, the Joint Research Centre, started reviewing the library’s data quality against the ILCD Entry-Level requirements. Several fully reviewed datasets will be made available in version 3. More recent datasets on energy, transport and materials are currently being reviewed.

Watch this space

In summary, a lot of interesting new and updated databases are scheduled to be released in a SimaPro update soon, offering LCA experts and sustainability professionals more options to carry out studies. We will inform you periodically through our website on these libraries and methods, and on others we plan to release in SimaPro in the near future.

Tommie Ponsioen

Tommie worked for PRé as a Technical Consultant from 2012 until 2015. As a part of the Consultancy Team, he worked with databases and methods. Tommie collaborated in projects such as Prosuite and improving the ReCiPe method.

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