In September the Carbon Leadership Forum released a report called Advancing the LCA Ecosystem.

The report aims to:

  • De-mystify the standards, data sources, tools, and actors that make up the current LCA ecosystem.
  • Propose a roadmap to maximize the potential of LCA of products and projects as a tool for effective policy.
  • Highlight existing initiatives to reduce redundancy and accelerate action.

Here is my outline of the current LCA ecosystem for buildings.


CLF identifies several standards, that specifies how a building LCA should be calculated.

  • ISO 21931-1:2022: Used in North America, this standard provides a sustainability assessment framework for buildings, focusing on their social, economic, and environmental performance. It outlines comprehensive requirements for Whole-Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA) but offers limited implementation guidance.
  • EN 15978:2011: The primary European standard for WBLCA, offering calculation rules for evaluating the environmental performance of buildings. It is more detailed than ISO 21931-1 and provides specific requirements and examples.
  • CLF mentions other standards, such as include Standard 240P from ASHREA/ICC and Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment from RICS.

Building LCA Data Sources

Building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) involves an extensive and more comprehensive assessment process than product LCA, as it incorporates multiple stages such as product, construction, use, and end-of-life (EOL) stages, and sometimes even more. The needed data is divided into:

Foreground Data:
This is primary data relating to the building's design, materials, and construction process.

Background Data:
Environmental datasets commonly found in either public available databases such as EC3 or ECOplatform or in LCA tools.

Preferred Types of Data

CLF provides a matrix of recommened data specificity levels acording to what stage a building design is at. See below

Building LCA Tools:

  • LCA modeling tools like openLCA, SimaPro, and GaBi can model entire buildings, but due to buildings' complexity, specialized WBLCA software tools have been developed.
  • These WBLCA tools convert intricate assemblies into lists of material quantities for analysis, and contain data on construction, use, and end-of-life scenarios.
  • Some notable WBLCA tools include Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings, One Click LCA, and tallyLCA. Additionally, there are various web-based calculators for early-design-stage carbon impact analysis, like EPIC and CARE.

State of the LCA Ecosystem

In September the Carbon Leadership Forum released a report called Advancing the LCA Ecosystem.