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Federal Life Cycle Assessment Commons

The Federal LCA Commons (FLCAC) is an interagency community of practice for life cycle assessment research methods.

The FLCAC collaborates to share expertise and methods to move toward common federal data modeling conventions and make federal data sets freely available through a web-based data repository.

The goals of the FLCAC and its value to the public and the federal government are to:

  • Advance FLCAC data, research, and information systems by leveraging multi-agency resources and expertise
  • Improve consistency in life cycle assessment methods developed by each agency to develop results for decision-making and public disclosure
  • Enhance public and agency access to FLCAC data in a standardized searchable format from a common repository.

The FLCAC has been formalized through a memorandum of understanding to establish a formal agreement to coordinate LCA data, research, and information systems between the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database is now part of the larger FLCAC effort and so must adapt standards and conventions to those emerging for FLCAC, which are more in alignment with international standards.

Data Format and Documentation Standards

In response to open government initiatives and multi-agency collaboration, the FLCAC is advancing new data format and documentation standards. Recent developments include converting multiple agency databases to a common repository, the FLCAC Collaboration Server. The now multi-agency, public repository is focusing on harmonizing digital data access and preservation to increase the collaboration potential and reviewability of the life cycle assessment data exchange process.

Repository standardization in the FLCAC, including the the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database (USLCI), is now to strive for 100% metadata completion and to be more aligned with international protocols for all newly developed data. There are also new nomenclature standards, decoupling of flows from activities, a revised categorization scheme, and adherence to the Federal Elementary Flow List compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The server is accessible via an internet connection and is compatible with the openLCA desktop application.

NREL, in partnership with the FLCAC has developed a comprehensive life cycle inventory data documentation and publication handbook and implemented a streamlined, transparent, user-focused publication workflow. The handbook outlines how to prepare your data for publication on the USLCI, including: metadata descriptors, nomenclature, categorization, and the representation of flows and processes. There are detailed descriptions on how to use openLCA to prepare your data, and how NREL will support the publication of your work.

Additional Resources

USLCI Update Press Release

USLCI Submission Handbook

openLCA and Metadata Guidance

USLCI Database Online

USLCI Database Quick Help Series

USLCI Release Downloads

openLCA Downloads

U.S. EPA Data Quality 

EPA Data Quality Indicators Guidance

NAICS Classification Manual