Promoting sustainability

through research and education...

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The UWME Design for Environment Lab promotes Sustainability and Design for Environment (DFE) through the advancement of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Industrial Ecology (IE).

Life Cycle Assessment Data

Accessibility to LCA data, e.g., for Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), is improving in large part due to national database development efforts.

USDA LCA Digital Commons

Open source data, like that in the USDA LCA Digital Commons, promise more transparency for LCAs. Features include data parameterization and extended meta data.

Design for Environment Courses

In ME515 Life Cycle Assessment, Beren Landaas Wells McKay presented this photo as part of his LCA of photography.  Visit the "Salmon Waves" sculpture at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

themed object

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington


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UWME DFE Lab & the USDA LCA Digital Commons

Project funded by the USDA National Agricultural Library


The USDA LCA Digital Commons is an opensource database and repository intended to disseminate data for use in LCAs of food, biofuels, and a variety of other bioproducts. 

!!!NEW!!! Guidance on submitting data to the LCA Digital Commons

!!!NEW!!! LCA Data Generation Tools


US field crop production data are available

Field crop production data were uploaded in June 2012 covering the production of corn, cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, soybeans, and durum, other spring, and winter wheat in USDA Program States from 1996-2009.  The development of these data broke new ground within the context of current practice in LCA data development.  First, the data are parameterized: raw data and formulas appear within the datasets as opposed to in supporting documentation.  Second, co-product data are explicit: no allocation is performed within the dataset in order to maximize the types of assessments that can be performed with the data (e.g., attributional vs. consequential LCA).  Third, the datasets balance the mass of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and water to and from the environment.  Fourth, a clear line has been drawn between inventory analysis and impact assessment to allow greater flexibility in assessments using the data.  Finally, meta data include data quality information based on a method that reduces subjectivity and increases repeatability and statistical information that captures sampling error.  Additional information on advancements is provided in:

Status: data development

In November of 2013, version 1.1 of the field crop data will be available in ILCD format.  These data will be accommpanied by datasets that link the version 1.1 field crop data to data in the ecoinvent and NREL's LCI databases (e.g., representing the life cycle of select fertilizers, pesticides, etc.), making them ready to use in a wide range of LCA software tools (OpenLCA, GaBi, SimaPro, and more). 

Upcoming  datasets scheduled for release in early 2014 represent irrigation, manure management, and farm equipment operation.  The irrigation data represent pressure irrigation (central pivot; linear and wheel move systems; solid set and permanent; side roll, wheel move, or other mechanical move; traveler or big gun;  and hand move) and gravity irrigation (down rows or furrows, controlled flooding, and uncontrolled flooding) using ground and surface water sources.  Manure management data cover storage and application and will next be extended to include production.  Farm equipment operation data are adapted from ASAE D497.7 (March 2011) and the USEPA NONROAD model.

Other datasets in progress represent characterization factors compatible with the field crop data using DAYCENT will allow soil carbon and nitrogen estimates for comparison to the IPCC data.


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