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Classifying and Browsing LCA studies: The New Functionalities of the LCA Resource Directory
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1  European Commission - Joint Research Centre - Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy

Published: 01 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session General and Related Topics
Abstract: Context The European Commission (EC) recognised Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as "the best framework for assessing the potential environmental impacts of products". It also identified "the need to improve data availability and quality worldwide by internationally cooperating on LCA data and methods". The life cycle approach is also part of the 2011 Communication on "A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy". To support these life cycle based EU policies, the EC has started the "European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment (EPCLA)"[1]services (e.g. consulting or research services), tools (e.g. LCA tools, ecodesign tools), databases (e.g. LCI databases) and the corresponding developers and providers. in 2005. This Platform is implemented and coordinated by the EC Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Environment and Sustainability, in close collaboration with DG Environment. The Platform works on the basis of coherent and quality-assured life cycle data, methods, and studies. The LCA Resource Directory is one of the deliverables of the Platform. This application has been running since 2006 and it contains lists of Novelty The LCA Resource Directory has recently been further developed so that it can contain and organize LCA case studies and metadata on these studies. The new LCA Resource Directory will be launched during the Fall 2011. Methods The new functionalities of the LCA Resource Directory allow users (LCA expert and non-expert) to browse a database of LCA studies. Thanks to the searching tool, a user can sort the information available as metadata and identify relevant LCA studies according to his/her interests. Many of the fields of the template used to characterize LCA studies are based on the ISO 1404x series. Some fields of the template are mandatory (e.g. functional unit and system boundary) in order to assure that the information showed in the application fulfills most of the requirements of the ISO 14044 for reports to be disclosed to the public. Other fields of the template include: "Intended application(s)", "LCIA impact categories" and "Compliance". The LCA study has to be uploaded on the Directory. Moreover, a final verification step is performed by the web application administrator to ensure quality and consistency. The application is open worldwide ( Any research group, company, university, etc. is now able, after registration, to upload studies and give metadata on them using a template. DG JRC will be in charge of the maintenance of the application and will populate the Directory with the first set of studies during the Fall 2011. An open call to relevant research groups and institutions will be send in order to populate the Directory with registered users and studies. Conclusions With these new capabilities of the Resource Directory, the EPLCA makes progress in its aim of promoting life cycle thinking when making available to all kind of LCA practitioners a good quality database of LCA studies, together with a searching tool. [1]
Keywords: LCA studies, searching tool, Directory, European Platform on LCA