When performing an LCA, it is common to ask oneself if the used database and Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) method could be used together.
openLCA has an LCIA method package, now in version 2.1.1, with over 40 methods that you can download in Nexus . This package has methods that are adequate for practically all databases available in Nexus.
The table below summarises the compliance between databases and methods available in Nexus.
Own LCIA Method in database original pack
openLCA Method Pack 2.1.1
Environmental Footprint (PEF)
All other databases in Nexus
Table 1: Outline of methods and databases that could be used together
There are a lot of LCIA methods that are used in LCA. The method to be used usually depends on
- the impact categories that should be addressed for the study (from the creator of the study, or the client commissioning the study),
- the audience and stakeholders of the study, and where their interest lies,
- the technical fit of flows between the method and database.
Generally speaking, for example, studies that want to focus on water impacts would use the AWARE method or other water footprint methods, whilst studies for US clients would use the TRACI method because it is usually the method used in the US. Above all, it is important that the flows fit, i.e. are compliant, between method and database: if the method does not use the same flows as the processes in a database, the calculated impacts will be 0.
Recommendations of which LCIA methods is best suited for each database can usually be found within the documentation of the database. You can find the documentation under Documents on the database download page in Nexus (e.g. documents for EuGeos’ 15804-IA).
If you want to check if the elementary flows you are using in openLCA are mapped onto your chosen LCIA method:
Flows -> any elementary flow -> Impact factors. At the Impact factors tab, one can see the LCIA methods that the elementary flow can map with.
Also, one can check which elementary flows were not considered in the impact assessment in openLCA:
Product system -> Calculate -> LCIA Checks. At LCIA Checks, one can see all of the elementary flows that are not considered at each LCIA category. If an elementary flow is found in the LCIA Checks under a certain category, the impact assessment is not taking it into account within this category.
 Nexus is a data centre by GreenDelta (developer of openLCA) with a variety of free and license-based databases and methods.
 The openLCA method pack is recommended, the ecoinvent original pack provided rather for reference.