Impact Indicators

List of Impact Indicators & Impact Assessment Methods

This is a list of the default environmental impact categories and impact assessment methods to use in EPDs of the International EPD System.

Requirements or recommendations in the PCR may deviate from the default list of impact indicators, if such deviations have been justified in the PCR development process. An example of such a deviation is the guidance for EPDs of construction products, which instead is based on the list of indicators and methods in EN 15804 and applicable c-PCRs (see the Further Information section below).

The default list of indicators and methods is updated on a regular basis based on the latest developments in LCA methodology and ensuring the market stability of EPDs. In case of updates, the previous version of the default list is valid in parallel to a new version during a transition period of at least 90 days. Information about such transition periods will be published here.

The latest updates to the default list were made 2018-05-30 (POFP) and 2018-06-08 (Water Scarcity Footprint).

Clarifications to the impact indicators and their methods may be found further down, in the Guidance on Environmental Performance Indicators.

Global warming potential (kg CO2 eq.)

GWP100, CML 2001 baseline. Version: January 2016.

Four GWP indicators shall be declared, which differentiates greenhouse gases depending on their origin: GWP-fossil, GWP-biogenic, GWP-land use and land use change (luluc), and GWP-TOTAL (the sum of the other three GWP indicators). More guidance can be found in the below section on Guidance on Environmental Performance Indicators.

Original reference
IPCC (2013)

Examples
1 kg carbon dioxide = 1 kg CO2 eq.
1 kg methane = 28* kg CO2 eq.
1 kg dinitrogen oxide = 265 kg CO2 eq.

*Please note that the original source, IPCC (2013), differentiates "Fossil methane" from methane.

Acidification potential (kg SO2 eq.)

AP, CML 2001 non-baseline (fate not included), Version: January 2016.

Original reference
Hauschild & Wenzel (1998)

Examples
1 kg ammonia = 1.88 kg SO2 eq.
1 kg nitrogen dioxide = 0.7 kg SO2 eq.
1 kg sulphur dioxide = 1 kg SO2 eq.

Please notice the use of non-baseline characterization factors for acidification potential.

Eutrophication potential (kg PO43- eq.)

EP, CML 2001 baseline (fate not included), Version: January 2016.

Original reference
Heijungs et al. (1992)

Examples
1 kg phosphate = 1 kg PO43- eq.
1 kg ammonia = 0.35 kg kg PO43- eq.
1 kg COD (to freshwater) = 0.022 kg kg PO43- eq.

Photochemical oxidant formation potential (kg NMVOC eq.)

POFP, LOTOS-EUROS as applied in ReCiPe 2008

Original reference
Van Zelm et al 2008, ReCiPe 2008

Examples
1 kg carbon monoxide = 0.046 kg NMVOC eq.
1 kg nitrogen oxides = 1 kg NMVOC eq.

Abiotic depletion potential – Elements (kg Sb eq.)

ADPelements, CML 2001, baseline

Original reference
Oers, et al (2002)

Examples
1 kg antimony = 1 kg Sb eq.
1 kg aluminium = 1.09 * 10^-9 Sb eq.

Abiotic depletion potential – Fossil fuels (MJ, net calorific value)

ADPfossil fuels, CML 2001, baseline

Original reference
Oers, et al (2002)

Examples
1 kg coal hard = 27.91 MJ
1 kg coal soft, lignite = 13.96 MJ

Water Scarcity Footprint (WSF) (m3 H2O eq)

AWARE Method: WULCA Recommendations on characterization model for WSF 2015, 2017. CF at country level can be download (Excel files) from: www.wulca-waterlca.org/aware.html

Cut-off rules can have important implications on the results. WULCA applies as cut-off rule: the maximum value for CF is set to 100 when Demand ≥ Availability (AWARE100). But, it has been proposed also two other cut-off rules for the AWARE Methods:

  • Maximum CF of 10 (AWARE10)
  • Maximum CF of 1000 (AWARE1000)

Original reference
Boulay et al (2017)

Examples
AWARE method is based on 1/AMD(1), the inverse of the difference between water availability per area and demand per area(2). It quantifies the potential of water deprivation, to either humans or ecosystems, and serves in calculating the impact score of water consumption at midpoint in LCA or to calculate a water scarcity footprint as per ISO 14046. It is based on the available water remaining (AWARE) per unit of surface in a given watershed relative to the world average, after human and aquatic ecosystem demands have been met.

(1) 1/AMD: the inverse of Availability - Demand
(2) What is the potential to deprive another user (human or ecosystem) when consuming water in this area?

The resulting characterization factor (CF) ranges between 0.1 and 100, and can be used to calculate WSF as defined in the ISO standard 14046:2015. The local AWARE factor is meant to be multiplied with the local water consumption inventory.

582 m3 H2O consumed per ton of grapes produced in Mendoza, Argentina:
WSF = 582 m3H2O x 54.15 (CFAgriAWARE100) = 31,518 m3eq/ton grape

Further Information

For construction product EPDs, Table 3 in EN 15804 (“Parameters describing environmental impacts”) shall be applied in the PCR instead of the indicators listed above. Characterization factors are available in Annex C of the standard.

To find corresponding methods available in your LCA software, such as SimaPro, GaBi or openLCA, please see the documentation or contact your LCA software provider. To see the compliance of different versions of the CML-IA, see the version history available on their website.

The source and version of the impact assessment methods and characterisation factors used shall be reported in the EPD. Alternative regional impact assessment methods and characterisation factors are allowed to be calculated and displayed in addition to the default list. If so, the EPD shall contain an explanation of the difference between the different sets of indicators, as they may appear to the reader to display duplicate information.

Other indicators

To better characterize the environmental performance of a product category, a PCR may list further mandatory or voluntary indicators of potential environmental impacts. Also indicators not listed in the PCR may be declared if environmentally relevant for the product. Examples of further environmental impact categories to declare are:

  • ozone-layer depletion,
  • ionising radiation, or
  • impacts of land use and land use change.

Any indicators declared should be based on international standards or similar methodologies developed in a transparent procedure. Reference to the declared indicators and their impact assessment methods shall be reported.

Inventory Indicators

List of Inventory Indicators

This is a list of the default inventory indicators to use in EPDs of the International EPD System.

Requirements or recommendations in the PCR may deviate from the default list of inventory indicators, if such deviations have been justified in the PCR development process.

The default list of inventory indicators is updated on a regular basis based on the latest developments in LCA methodology and ensuring the market stability of EPDs. In case of updates, the previous version of the default list is valid in parallel to a new version during a transition period of at least 90 days. Information about such transition periods will be published here.

Clarifications to the inventory indicators may be found further down, in the Guidance on Environmental Performance Indicators.

Use of Resources

The indicators for resource use based on the life cycle inventory listed below shall be declared per functional unit or declared unit, and per life cycle stage.

Notes:

  • To identify the primary energy used as an energy carrier (and not used as raw materials), the parameter may be calculated as the difference between the total input of primary energy and the input of energy resources used as raw materials.

  • The energy content of biomass used for feed or food purposes shall not be considered.

  • The net use of fresh water does not constitute a “water footprint” as a potential environmental impact because the water use in different geographical locations is not captured. For this indicator:

  1. Evaporation, transpiration, product integration, release into different drainage basins or the sea, displacement of water from one water resource type to another water resource type within a drainage basin (e.g. from groundwater to surface water) is included.
  2. In-stream water use is not included.
  3. Only the net water consumption (such as the reintegration of water losses) of water used in closed-loop processes (such as a cooling system) and in power generation should be considered.
  4. Seawater shall not be included (it may be relevant to include seawater if it is used to obtain energy from it, or it is the only source of water in a definite site; this may be displayed separately, e.g. as “seawater for desalinization”).
  5. Tap water or treated water (e.g. from a water treatment plant), or wastewater that is not directly released into the environment (e.g. sent to a wastewater treatment plant) do not count as elementary water flows, but intermediate flows from a process within the technosphere.
  6. Additional transparency in terms of geographical location, type of water resource (e.g. groundwater, surface water), water quality, and temporal aspects may be included as additional information.

Waste Production and Output Flows

Waste generated and other output flows shall be declared according to below guidance.

When the amount of waste or the output flows from the life cycle inventory are declared, the indicators in the following Tables shall be reported per functional unit or declared unit, and per life cycle stage.

Indicators describing waste production

Indicators describing output flows

Notes:

  • The parameters are calculated on the gross amounts leaving the system boundary of the product system in the life cycle inventory. If, e.g. there is no gross amount of “exported energy, electricity” leaving the system boundary, this indicator is set to zero.
  • The parameter “Materials for energy recovery” does not include materials for waste incineration with energy recovery, unless all criteria for end-of-waste state have been fulfilled prior to the incineration. See Section A.5.2 of the General Programme Instructions (version 4.0) for further information.
  • In the event that flows of these types never leave the system boundary for a product category, the indicators may be removed from the PCR.

Other inventory indicators
The PCR may add other voluntary or mandatory inventory indicators to declare in the EPD. Any indicators declared should be based on international standards or similar methodologies developed in a transparent procedure. Reference to the declared indicators and their methods shall be reported.

Guidance on Environmental Performance Indicators

Below are some clarifications for the indicators of climate change, water scarcity, resource use and waste generation. A PCR may provide further guidance for its specific product category. If below guidance deviates from a PCR or the underlying standard (e.g. EN 15804), the guidance in the PCR or the underlying standard shall be followed.

GUIDANCE ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE INDICATORS

Characterisation factors
The latest IPCC characterisation factors shall always be used, unless otherwise stated and justified in the PCR.

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals
The climate impact assessment shall include emissions and removals of greenhouse gases arising from fossil sources, biogenic sources, and direct land use change. The reporting shall be done in separate sub-indicators for the different sources, unless other guidance is provided in the PCR.

For human food and animal feed, emissions and removals arising from biogenic sources that become an ingested part of the product shall not be included. Greenhouse gas emissions (except carbon dioxide, CO2) arising from the degradation of waste food and feed and enteric fermentation shall be included.

Where a secondary material with a carbon content enters the system boundary, the quantity of carbon content should be accounted in the same way as if it were a primary material. Thus accounting for the total quantity of carbon that the new product will contain and continue to store.

When GHG emissions and removals arising from the use stage and/or from the end-of-life stage occur over more than 10 years after the product has been brought into use, the timing of GHG emissions and removals relative to the year of production of the product shall be specified in the life cycle inventory (if not otherwise specified in the reference PCR),

The effect of timing of the GHG emissions and removals from the product system, on the climate impact results, shall, if calculated, be documented separately in the EPD.

Carbon sequestration and stored carbon
When some or all removed carbon is not emitted to the atmosphere within the 100-year assessment period, the share of carbon not emitted to the atmosphere during that period shall be treated as stored carbon. Carbon storage might arise where biogenic carbon forms part or all of a product (e.g. a wooden product) or where atmospheric carbon is taken up by a product over its life cycle (e.g. cement).

Land management might result in changes of carbon stored as soil carbon or forest biomass. Unless otherwise stated in the PCR, it is optional to consider this in the climate impact assessment. If soil carbon change is accounted for, the guidance of how to account for this in ISO 14067 shall be followed.

GHG emissions and removals occurring as a result of direct land use change (dLUC) within the last decades shall be assessed in accordance with internationally recognized methods, such as the IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and included in the CFP. The net dLUC GHG emissions and removals shall be documented separately in the EPD. If site-specific data are applied, they shall be transparently documented in the project report If a national approach is used, the data shall be based on a verified study, a peer reviewed study or similar scientific evidence and shall be documented in the project report.

Offsetting
Greenhouse gas emissions offset mechanisms shall not be used in the assessment of the carbon footprint indicators. The EPD owner may declare their participation in offsetting programmes or purchase of carbon neutral products separately in the additional environmental information section of the EPD, where these effects also may be qualified.

Aircraft emissions
Aircraft GHG emissions shall be included and documented separately if significance. Further, the guidance of how to account for aircraft GHG emissions in ISO 14067 shall be followed.

GUIDANCE ON THE WATER SCARCITY INDICATOR

Net freshwater use is included as an indicator in the section of resource use, calculated from the life cycle inventory. The water scarcity potential provides further information related to the availability of water in different geographical locations.

GUIDANCE ON THE RESOURCE USE AND WASTE INDICATORS

These indicators account for resource used and waste produced along the whole life cycle of the declared product (upstream, core and downstream processes). They are the result of the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), and represent net flows of resources and waste crossing the system boundaries.

Please note that the amount of wastes and the destination shall be declared as outflows from the system only when the waste treatment process is not included within the system boundaries.

Also note that some aggregated generic LCI datasets, most notably those from the Ecoinvent database, include all waste treatment processes within the system boundaries, i.e. there are no waste flows exiting the system boundaries and the waste indicators to be declared will be zero. In contrast, other aggregated generic LCI datasets, such as Gabi datasets, often have waste flows exiting the system boundaries, and the waste indicators to be declared will therefore be non-zero.