Back to Full Agenda
InLCA Session IV A -Software Tools & Data Systems
Click here to download a zipped copy of the abstracts and slide presentations for this session.
BEES - Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability:
Combining Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) into a Practical Software Tool

Presenter: Barbara C. Lippiatt
(slides in pdf)

Barbara C. Lippiatt

NIST, Building and Fire Research Laboratory
Office of Applied Economics
100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8603
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8603
Phone: 301-975-6133
FAX: 301-975-5337

Mike Levy

Environmental Strategies & Solutions
744 Ridge Drive
McLean, VA 22101
Phone: 703-790-3245
FAX: 703-790-3245

Vince Camobreco

Ecobalance, Inc.
7101 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-657-5943
FAX: 301-657-5948

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Office of Applied Economics has developed a user-friendly software tool that blends life cycle costing data for building products with life cycle assessment data. The goal of the software, known as BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability), is to assist decision-makers involved in designing, selecting, and purchasing cost-effective green building products.

BEES measures environmental performance using the environmental life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach specified in the latest versions of ISO 14000 standards. All stages in the life of a product are analyzed: raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, use, and recycling and waste management. Economic performance is measured using the ASTM standard life-cycle cost method, which covers the costs of initial investment, replacement, operation, maintenance and repair, and disposal. Environmental and economic performance are combined into an overall performance measure using the ASTM standard for Multi-Attribute Decision Analysis. Through synthesis of these standard methods, BEES reduces complex, science-based technical content (e.g., over 100 material and energy flows from raw material extraction through product disposal) to decision-enabling results and delivers them in a visually intuitive graphical format.

This paper will present the methodology behind the BEES tool as well as the approach for collection of environmental LCA and cost data for building products. The LCA data comes from a combination of data collected specifically for the BEES system from industry stakeholders and data from a premier LCA database, Ecobalance, Inc.'s DEAM LCA database on materials and processes. Cost data is collected from widely-used published cost data sources.

Several case studies and a description of the publicly-available, free software will be presented.


Life Cycle Engineering: Performing LCIA and Sensitivity Analysis Using GaBi 3

Presenter: Sabrina Spatari
(slides in pdf)

Sabrina Spatari

PMP # 265 1554 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA
Phone: 1-888-222-1451

Andrea J. Russell

Five Winds International

The Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) approach has emerged as an effective framework and methodology for decision analysis. The GaBi 3 software tool (Figure 1) supports the systematic preparation and analysis of product- and company-related decisions by integrating technical, economic and ecological aspects in the optimization of production, product design and product marketing. LCIA is a critical step within LCE in leading towards more informed decisions. This paper illustrates how GaBi 3 is an effective LCE software tool for supporting both technical and high-level decision-making. Specifically, the paper will address software issues in LCIA (e.g., Figure 2) and the importance of examining data sensitivity (Figure 3). GaBi 3 offers many different impact assessment and scoring methods; these methods will be discussed along with the sensitivity analysis capabilities within GaBi 3.

GaBi 3 software for Life Cycle Engineering provides graphical representation of product systems, including Sankey diagrams that represent flows between unit processes according the quantity of the flow.

GaBi 3 contains numerous life cycle impact assessment tools, each with transparent scoring and weighting capabilities.

GaBi 3 offers powerful sensitivity analysis tools that allow the LCA practitioner to examine how variations in specific parameters affect environmental impacts.

TEAMTM 3.0 - Managing LCA Information Within an Enterprise Setting

Presenter: Remi Coulon
(slides in pdf)

Remi Coulon and Anne Landfield

Ecobalance, Inc.
7101 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (301) 657-5940
FAX: (301) 657-5948

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an environmental and cost tool in which raw materials, energy, and environmental emissions of a product or process are quantitatively measured over the entire lifetime, from extraction of raw materials through end-of-life options. LCA offers a holistic view of environmental and cost-related aspects of a company's products and services, that can aid in a company's purchasing, product development and marketing.

Nevertheless, it is often difficult to incorporate LCA into a company's infrastructure. The many aspects of an LCA can cover the entire corporate structure, from scoping and carrying out the LCA through interpreting and utilizing the results. Performing an LCA often requires data collection input from various departments, including purchasing (raw material and energy requirements), health and safety (emissions data), and engineering (for process modeling). Results of an LCA are oftentimes interpreted by different segments of a corporate structure, including marketing, design teams, and executive levels. Therefore, the flow of information across and through all the departments complicates the task of incorporating LCA.

TEAM, Tool for Environmental Analysis and Management, is a professional software tool used to evaluate the life cycle environmental and cost profile of products and technologies, facilitating the flow of life cycle information through the infrastructure. A company's existing data can be incorporated into TEAMTM to simplify the task of performing LCA's, and allows companies to integrate the LCA approach into the enterprise. For example, TEAM manages life cycle data input through its ability to import existing company databases and public data sources with simple macros and filters. Furthermore, electronic questionnaires have been developed that allow site data to be uploaded directly into a TEAM model.

Once the data is incorporated, process modeling in TEAM is flexible and allows unlimited levels of process models, systems, and sub-systems. This unique encapsulation or nesting feature (grouping several models in a sub-system) allows one to build complex systems while keeping the interface simple (In fact, the largest system built to date gathered approximately 1,900 process models in eight layers of nested sub-systems).

TEAM also helps to manage the analysis and reporting of life cycle information for various levels of users. Experts can adjust system parameters and run what-if scenarios, as well as compute assessments with the built in database of accepted life cycle impact assessment methods. Users can also define and calculate their own user-input categories. Control panels can be built for non-LCA experts to gain the advantage of using LCA information without an in-depth knowledge of LCA methodology.

Furthermore, the TEAM software is well positioned for the future of LCA data management where information from other company-wide software tools (e.g., inventory tracking software, CAD programs, etc.) could be downloaded into TEAM, and LCA results could be automatically produced to aid in decision making and optimization of designs. This concept is being demonstrated through work being performed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through their DOME project.

The ability of TEAM to act as a life cycle information manager not only simplifies and enhances the use of LCA on a corporate level, but also organizes and optimizes the use of valuable environmental data.

Pragmatic Tools Based on the Eco-indicator 99

Presenter: Mark Goedkoop
(slides in pdf)

Mark Goedkoop

Renilde Spriensma
PRé Consultants, B.V. Plotterweg 12
3821 BB Amersfoort; The Netherlands
Phone: +31 33 4555022
FAX: +31 33 4555024

The weighting step in impact assessment is the most difficult and controversial step in any impact assessment. In the Eco-indicator 99 project this step is the staring point for the development of the methodology. As a result every effort was made to simplify this step. As a result the method was developed top down, starting with the definition of three damage categories (endpoints): Human health, Ecosystem quality and Resources. The big advantage of this selection is that there are just three categories and that they are by far less abstract than the common impact categories used in LCA.

As a result of this choice three damage models were developed to connect the inventory results to impact categories and further on to the damage categories. This means virtually all commonly known impact categories had to be redeveloped.

In the development of damage models it is impossible to avoid value choices, regarding time perspective and other modeling parameters. In order to deal with such choices a management system was set up that resulted in the development of three versions, each representing a consistent set of value choices, using the principles of Cultural Theory.

The methodology development was sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Environment and the Swiss National Science Foundation. A large team of experts from several countries has contributed.

The method can be seen as one of the most sophisticated damage approaches for LCA to date. Although the development of the method was complicated, the application is simple and the method can be easily implemented in the worlds most widely used LCA software SimaPro, also developed by PRé. Furthermore a short presentation of a very easy to use tool (ECO-it) for designers is demonstrated.

Making LCA Data Available via the Internet: LCAccess

Presenter: Timothy J. Skone
(slides in pdf)

Mary Ann Curran

LCA Data Team Leader Phone: 513-569-7782

Timothy J. Skone


The lack of readily-available, quality Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data is often a barrier to manufacturers, among others, for incorporating life cycle considerations into their decision making process. While much progress has been made on standardizing and improving the uniformity of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, less success has been achieved in increasing the availability of quality life cycle inventory data. Three specific areas of improvement exist to promote the use of LCA in decision-making by U.S. industry, government, and LCI practitioners.

LCAccess is an EPA web site designed to address all three of these areas! It's aim is to reduce the time and resources burden to locate existing LCI data sources by cataloguing existing LCI data sources and documenting the quality of each in a searchable database tool.

The LCI Data Locator portal allows the user to select a predefined data set from a matrix search that is organized by industry categories and life cycle stages, or specify a search criteria using a combined keyword search and advanced criteria search. Once selected, Data Source Profiles can either be viewed on the Internet, printed, or used to link to the location of the data source (if available on the Internet).

Another unique feature of the web site is that it allows users to add their own information directly to the database by using a standard form provided on the web site. This way the web site will contain the most recent sources of LCI data. Another important benefit of this feature is that it allows users to market their data to a wider audience.

The site location within the EPA server will be determined by Fall 2000.

Development of TRACI: Tool for the Reductionand Assessment of Chemical Impacts

Presenter: Jane C. Bare

Jane C. Bare

26 W. MLK Dr., (MS-466)
Cincinnati, Ohio 45268
Phone: 513-569-7513
FAX: 513-569-7111

Gregory Norris

Sylvatica, Inc.
147 Bauneg Hill Road, Suite 200
North Berwick, Maine 03906
Phone: 207-676-7640
FAX: 207-676-7647

TRACI is a screening level impact assessment tool which can assist in environmental decision making for implementation of pollution prevention, life cycle assessment, or sustainability programs and which can allow further prioritization of environmental problems for further action or more in-depth analysis. TRACI provides extensive documentation to assist practitioners in understanding the advantages and disadvantages of various study designs, and includes impact assessment methodologies and supporting databases to allow a screening level assessment of potential impacts in the following impact categories:

Potential impacts may be maintained independently, or may be aggregated utilizing the normalization and valuation processes for a consistent decision making framework. A sensitivity analysis of the valuation process may also be conducted.

For three of these categories - acidification, smog formation, and eutrophication - U.S. average and sometimes, more geographically specific, equivalency factors are being developed with a probabilistic approach allowing quantification of uncertainty related to impact assessment calculations. Impact assessments allowing more specific scenario differentiation will reflect the increased level of certainty in the analyses.

U.S. average equivalency factors for the final two impact categories - human and environmental health - will be developed using selected parameters chosen to represent the geographic and meteorologic diversity of the U.S. incorporated into the CALTOX model. CALTOX uses a multimedia modeling framework allowing the assessment of various scenarios for human exposure. Analyses to date have shown that U.S. average chemical potencies are sufficient when compared to the uncertainty introduced in other parts of the uncertainties involved in the modeling.

Impact assessment methodology and equivalency factor development is expected to be completed near the end of 1999, followed by software beta testing in early 2000.

Distributed Information System for Environmentally Conscious Process Design

Presenter: Yasuhiro Fukushima

Yasuhiro Fukushima and Masahiko Hirao

Department of Chemical System Engineering

School of Engineering

The University of Tokyo
7-3-1 Hongo Bunkyo-ku Tokyo 113-8656 Japan

When we design a process system, consideration of environmental impact is needed as well as other conventional criteria. Since changes in a process indirectly influence the overall environmental impact through the whole lifecycle systems, a single process optimization may result in worse total-system from the viewpoint of environmental impact. Therefore, we need to introduce lifecycle assessment methodologies to take account of product lifecycles.

Product lifecycle evaluation consists of three major activities. First, product lifecycles of every raw materials, utilities, and products relevant to the target process must be modeled. Then, inventory data are collected or estimated. Finally, whole lifecycle systems are evaluated and the results are returned to the process design activities.

In this paper, a new information system, which supports product lifecycle evaluation in the course of process design activities, is presented. A new application framework to exchange services on a network is constructed using distributed object technology. Lifecycle modeling, inventory data supply, and various environmental impact calculations are treated as services whose interfaces to the network is standardized in the framework. Services are provided by software located at the developer (including databases at the maintainer) side in the network. Users of this framework, i.e. process design engineers, can build their own lifecycle evaluation systems to meet their design strategies using the services on the network. Therefore, they can obtain up-to-date data and can use a new evaluation method as a part of their system without developing it from the very beginning. So far, collection or estimation of inventory data in the lifecycle systems is a time and cost consuming issue, because activities in a product lifecycle are carried out not by a single company but by many companies, governmental agencies, and the citizens. Although several software tools for lifecycle evaluation already exist, evaluation methods are fixed and cannot be modified by users. Data formats are not exchangeable among the tools and data collection is not supported in most cases. The information system developed over this framework helps process design engineers model product lifecycles, collect data from distributed heterogeneous databases, and evaluate the target process within the product lifecycle system using any impact indicator they want. The functionality of the system will be introduced through case study on a new process system evaluation, as well as the potential of the application framework to change from software-based paradigm to service-based paradigm.

Top / Back to full agenda