What factors influence the quality of results of life-cycle assessment?
Quality and accuracy of input data is predominantly the responsibility of the user performing the assessment. In the case of One Click LCA, LCA Checker provides two tools to help users with this. The first tool is Plausibility Checker, which checks plausibility of building material inputs. The second is Completeness Checker, which checks if all required elements are in place for the applicable standard or certification in question. This works based on the choices made in the Create design dialogue.
With One Click LCA, the LCA method itself is encapsulated in LCA tools. The platform provides over 100 different tools for calculating environmental impacts according to different standards and certifications. These tools operate independently of each other, and provide different compliance results. Each tool independently sets the requirements for the LCA data it allows to be used, the modelling scope, life-cycle modules used in calculation and detailed rules used for applying them, as well as formats and methods for reporting the results. A partial list of these tools can be found täällä
Different types of LCA data in One Click LCA and how they are handled
The One Click LCA platform provides the following types of market-based LCA data. All the data in these categories are inspected under One Click LCA’s Data Quality Policy (DQP, explained later on), and will only be made available once the process for the dataset is completed.
|TYPE OF LCA DATA
||WHAT THIS MEANS
|1. PUBLIC EPD DATA
||Any EPD published anywhere in the world that has suitable construction sector data
||All global EPD programs with construction data
|2. PUBLIC LCA DATA
||Any LCA data published anywhere in the world that is suitable for construction uses
||ICE and EPiC databases
|3. ONE CLICK LCA GENERIC DATA – MATERIALS
||Generic LCA data for key materials. Can be either country specific or global. All global data is automatically adapted to represent better local manufacturing.
||One Click LCA generic material profiles
|4. ONE CLICK LCA GENERIC DATA – PROCESSES
||Generic LCA data for energy and processes. Energy data is country specific or more detailed. Processes are global or regional.
||One Click LCA generic energy profiles
The following types of LCA data are not covered by One Click LCA’s Data Quality Policy (DQP), and consequently One Click LCA does not make assurances about the quality of individual datapoints. However, One Click LCA’s implementation of Ecoinvent is characterized and classified in a way to make it fit for use for construction product EPD generation under ISO 21930 and EN 15804.
|TYPE OF LCA DATA
||WHAT THIS MEANS
|5. PRIVATE LCA DATA
||A private dataset, that the user adds to the data library for the organisation. This is an Expert level feature. This data cannot be added to compliance tools that do not accept private data. The data does not pass through our hands, and we do not verify it at any point.
||Any specific private dataset or EPD the user has created or received from their partners.
|6. LICENSED LCA DATA
||Data is available but requires the payment of a separate database license fee. This is mostly applicable for EPD generation.
||Ecoinvent. Note: data is set up and characterized to suit creating EPDs.
|7. MANDATORY DATA
||Mandatory for use in a specific regulatory application or certification. Sometimes, this data is also available only for that use.
||IMPACT, NMD and INIES databases – mandatory applications
|8. NON-LCA DATA
||Data used for GHG Protocol calculations (not available in any of the LCA/EPD tools)
||GHG Reporting databases, e.g. DEFRA
Key requirements for quality and accuracy of LCA data
General LCA data requirements according to EN 15804 are that the underlying data should be consistent, reproducible and comparable, and EN 15978 requires that the “data shall have been checked for plausibility and consistency with the rules in prEN 15804”.
According to the UN Environment Global Guidance on LCA database development
, also adopted for EN 15804+A2
, the key criteria for LCA data representativeness are:
- Geographical representativeness, very good level defined as “Data from area under study”.
- Technical representativeness, very good level defined as “Data from processes and products under study. Same state of technology applied as defined in goal and scope (i.e. identical technology)”.
- Time representativeness, very good level defined as “Less than 3 years difference between the reference year…, and the time period for which data are representative”.
In general, the accuracy of LCA data is higher when moving from a generic dataset to a manufacturer average data, or when moving from a manufacturer average to a product-specific data, or when moving from a product-specific data representing several plants to a plan specific dataset.
One Click LCA principles for availability, quality and consistency of LCA data
Our guiding principle for LCA data in plain terms is that we aim to have all of it, and in consistent quality. The more detailed principles can be found in the below table.
||MEANING IN PRACTICE
||We review and integrate all publicly and freely available LCA data for sectors we support, if it meets our Data Quality Policy and it is relevant. Any other data users can integrate this data as their private LCA datasets.
|PLAUSIBILITY (ref. EN 15978)
||Any market-based LCA data has to satisfy our Data Quality Policy to be included. This covers 10 steps and over 40 different checks. Some of the checks are disqualifying, others will lead to showing a warning to users.
|CONSISTENCY (ref. EN 15978)
||LCA data consistency is ensured. If data includes biogenic carbon storage, it is homogenised to ensure consistency of calculations – in One Click LCA’s non-regulated LCA tools, biogenic carbon is always reported as a separate set of results to ensure transparency and clarity. Further, LCA data is enriched with metadata for standardized life-cycle scenarios, conversion factors and other parameters.
|REPRESENTATIVENESS (UN Guidelines)
||All data is comprehensively classified on geographical and time representativeness. The data is documented based on available information for technological representativeness as textual description.
||As part of the LCA data review we perform, the data is also enriched with metadata and information allowing users to understand the datapoint and its quality better.
While we operate by the principles above, we also operate the data quality related processes on limited resources. We prioritize the databases and data that has high value for our users – generally, European and North American databases are updated and reviewed more frequently.
This will in practice mean that at times, some of the latest datasets have not yet been inspected nor integrated by us into the platform. However, they will be integrated eventually. Depending on the license level and agreement, making a custom data inclusion request can also be a possibility.
One Click LCA Data Quality Policy – how we check the data
Our Data Quality Policy (DQP) is designed specifically for ensuring data fit for construction sector applications, using attributional LCA models and standardized life-cycle impact results in line with CML, TRACI or EN 15804+A2 and specific extensions. The intent of the data quality policy is to provide as high a degree of plausibility and consistency
as possible considering we do not have access to background reports or other supporting information when data is reviewed.
The Data Quality Policy can result for any individual datapoint to one of the following cases.
||WHAT TRIGGERS THIS CASE
||Data not relevant for construction sector OR dual published EPD (same in two programs).
||Data that passes all checks with clean marks
||Well done EPDs
||Data that passes but needs a correction, for example to make biogenic carbon handling homogeneous (or other correction that can be safely done). Captured data is homogenized.
||This mainly applies to wood-based product EPDS.
||Product represented is untypical and no error is identified, but product might be accidentally selected by an end user looking for a typical product. Data is marked as ‘untypical’.
||Artificial stone made with epoxy resin (could be mistaken for natural stone)
||Data has a known error that can not be corrected, but the dataset belongs to a regulatory database (and as such is mandatory to be included as it is) or otherwise error is very minor.
||INIES 5171: Too low impacts in the source EPD
||Dataset has missing mandatory information, or is wrong beyond doubt (wholly or in part). Dataset is set in the blacklist with notice explaining why the dataset is rejected. If a corrected version of the dataset is later issued, the corrected version is re-examined.
||S-P-02202: missing ODP value
NEPD-1249-402-NO: A3 out of scale
NEPD-2423-1217-NO: data out of scale
||Dataset has expired and is inactivated from any new projects. Any projects where dataset was already added to can continue using it.
||NEPD 00078E rev1
The purpose of the Data Quality Policy is to ensure high quality data to One Click LCA end users. The Data Quality Policy is operated completely independently of commercial priorities by our data team.
Every EPD has been independently verified – so in theory, there should no no need for an additional verification, aside for controlling for differences arising from standards and Product Category Rules. But actual verification practices vary to a significant extent between different Program Operators and different schemes, and therefore we are adding a new level of information about the verification quality, as explained in the following section.
Problems with the quality of the original LCA or EPD verification
There is currently an issue that lots of documents claim to be EPDs which do not meet the requirements of EPDs, including the most basic one on independent verification.
Today, EPD is a shorthand for an environmental product declaration in conformance with ISO 14025: Environmental labels and declarations. Type III environmental declarations. Principles and procedures
-standard. This standard requires “independent verification of data from LCA, LCI (Life Cycle Inventory) and information modules” to be carried out on each and every EPD. The standard allows each program operator to choose if EPD verification must be third party, or if it can be a person who can act without compromising the independence of the verifier within the same company.
Another standard is provided for self-declarations: ISO 14021: Environmental labels and declarations. Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling)
. However, the buyer-side market does not recognize ISO 14021-based documents, and third-party verification costs money. This leads to a commercial incentive for “EPD lite” solutions, nominally ISO 14025 compliant, which boast a digitally reproduced signature of the third-party verifier on the cover page – even if the verifier could have only verified the software generating the EPD, not the EPD itself. This practice is not recognized in the current standards. Therefore, to add transparency to the marketplace, we are therefore appending the following labels on verification quality to the data we integrate.
We append this information based on the knowledge we have, and will correct any verification quality statements for datasets for which proof of an actual third-party verification is provided. Currently, level of verification is not a disqualifying factor for integrating data to One Click LCA.
|TYPE OF VERIFICATION
||LABEL WE APPEND
||All One Click LCA generic datasets we created
||Many of the concrete EPDs generated in North America. These are generated and published automatically without verification.
||Many tool-generated EPDs in Norway. These may show “Data collected/registered by” & “Internal verification by” on signature page.
||Third-party verified (as per ISO 14025)
||Third-party verification (or in rare and mostly older cases, other independent verification) in compliance with ISO 14025.
||Other verification (than ISO 14025)
||Some LCA datasets are subjected to other forms of verification or peer reviews.
A note about this statement
We believe providing this additional information will increase transparency about One Click LCA data for our end users. This may also provide protection for our users if they rely on data that might have a lesser degree of verification than they require.