Hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Library (NAL), the U.S. Life Cycle Assessment Commons (LCA Commons) is a collaboration among federal agencies, private industry, and academic researchers. The intention of LCA Commons is to aggregate and archive life cycle inventory data that represent US economic activities, making it freely available for re-use.
The USDA LCA Commons provides access to data, tools, and resources that support life cycle assessment for U.S. agriculture production and agriculturally derived products. LCA Commons serves a critical purpose because currently, life cycle inventory data are siloed across various government, industry, and academic organizations. They are developed and stored independently, in disparate formats, and do not contribute to a greater understanding of complete supply chains. LCA Commons can leverage the strengths and assets of individual groups already working in LCA to produce standardized and re-usable datasets. Aggregating datasets in a stable repository, and formatting them in a re-usable way reduces costs incurred by duplication of effort and inconsistent data practices. Complete and consistent metadata descriptions also minimize the misuse or misinterpretation of LCA data.
The lcacommons.gov database application is based on the openLCA framework for life cycle modeling and visualization. openLCA provides a database platform, metadata schema, and format converters to enable the interoperability of data from disparate sources. The LCA Commons provides the data and tools needed to maximize data usability, and provide a deeper understanding US supply chains in life cycle assessment.
The LCA Commons also includes an LCA collection in NAL’s Ag Data Commons. That collection is a catalog and archive of data and tools related to agricultural LCA, but not currently organized or formatted for use in LCA software.