LCIA Recommended Indicators

Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)

Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) translates resource use and emissions into potential environmental impacts. In doing so, it extends a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) to consider the likely effects that a product or service may have on the natural environment.

The table below provides a summary of LCIA indicators that should be considered for LCA studies conducted in New Zealand. The first seven indicators are those specified by European standard EN 15804 and are widely used in LCA and EPD studies worldwide. They can be used as a default core set of indicators, particularly within the construction industry. However, the choice of indicators for a specific study should always be defined as part of its goal and scope phase.

While there is no maximum number of indicators that can be considered within a single study, it is important to consider a minimum of two (and preferably more) in order to minimise the potential for burden-shifting. If multiple indicators are used, LCANZ recommends that normalisation be applied and presented alongside the un-normalised results. Doing so will help the reader to understand the likely relevance of each indicator.

Only midpoint indicators are included within the table. While endpoint indicators (e.g. human health impacts) are easier to apply in decision-making, they calculate potential impacts further down the cause-and-effect chain and are typically more uncertain and/or subjective. Where endpoint indicators are used in an LCA study, LCANZ recommends that both the midpoint and endpoint results be presented together.

It is important to recognise that all indicators represent potential environmental impacts. While they provide information on drivers of downstream changes, what actually occurs within the environment depend on a range of local, regional and global factors.

The table below primarily presents LCIA methods that are quite far up the cause-and-effect chain. LCA studies focused on local impacts should select different LCIA methods with local characterisation factors (wherever these are available). The table is also available in a PDF, at the top of this page.

Each indicator is presented using a common unit (e.g. kg CO2 equivalent for global warming potential). This does not mean that only this flow is considered, but rather that all other relevant flows have been normalised to a single unit in order to understand likely environmental effects.

Summary of suggested LCIA-based midpoint indicators and calculation methods

Indicator name and Info Sheet link Abbreviation Key impact Spatial scope Area of protection Midpoint LCIA   calculation method* Units
Global   warming potential (100 year) GWP100 Climate change Global Human and ecosystem   health For EN 15804 EPDs

IPCC (2013)

kg CO2 eq. (100 year)
Stratospheric   ozone depletion potential ODP Depletion of the ozone   layer Global Human and ecosystem   health CML kg CFC-11 eq.
Acidification   (land and water) potential AP Acid rain Local Ecosystem health CML kg SO2 eq.
Eutrophication   potential EP Algal blooms Local Ecosystem health CML kg PO43-eq.
Photochemical ozone creation potential POCP Summer smog Local Human and ecosystem   health CML (high NOx) kg C2H4   eq.
Abiotic depletion   potential – elements ADPE Mineral resource   depletion Global Natural resources CML kg Sb eq.
Abiotic depletion   potential – fossil fuels ADPF Fossil resource depletion Global Natural resources CML MJ
Particulate matter   formation potential PMFP Respiratory problems Local Human health RiskPoll kg PM2.5 eq.
Water   scarcity footprint WSF Water shortages Local Natural resources AWARE or

Water Stress Indicator

Toxicity potential –   human health (cancer) HTPC Health problems Local Human health USEtox 2.0 CTUh
Toxicity potential –   human health (non-cancer) HTPNC Health problems Local Human health USEtox 2.0 CTUh
Toxicity potential   –ecosystems ETP Ecosystem damage Local Ecosystem health USEtox 2.0 CTUeco
Land   transformation potential LTP Land competition and   ecosystem damage All Natural resources and   ecosystem health Frischknecht and   Jungbluth (2007) or LANCA m2
Ionising radiation   potential IRP Health problems Local Human health ReCiPe 1.08 Midpoint kg U-235 eq.

* The methods given provide a placeholder until an information sheet is provided to confirm the method

Methodology section

Indicator name and Info   Sheet link Uncertainty in results   (relative) Consensus on choice of   method Relevance – NZ supply   chain Relevance – global supply   chain
Low = +ve High = +ve High = +ve High = +ve
Global   warming potential (100 year) Low High High High
Stratospheric   ozone depletion potential Low High Low1 Low
Acidification   (land and water) potential Moderate Moderate Low High
Eutrophication   potential Moderate Moderate High High
Photochemical ozone creation potential Moderate Moderate Low High
Abiotic depletion   potential – elements Moderate Moderate Moderate Moderate
Abiotic depletion   potential – fossil fuels Low High Moderate High
Particulate matter   formation potential Low High High High
Water   scarcity footprint TBC TBC TBC TBC
Toxicity potential –   human health (cancer) High High Moderate High
Toxicity potential –   human health (non-cancer) High High Moderate High
Toxicity potential   –ecosystems High High High High
Land transformation potential Moderate Moderate High High
Ionising radiation   potential Moderate Moderate Low Moderate

* The methods given provide a placeholder until an information sheet is provided to confirm the method


CML-IA is a database that contains characterisation factors for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA).

The database contains the characterisation factors for all baseline characterisation methods mentioned in the Handbook on LCA, Guinée, J.B., Gorrée, M., Heijungs, R., Huppes, G., Kleij,n R., van Oers, L., Wegener Sleeswijk, A., Suh, S., Udo de Haes, H.A., de Bruijn, H., van Duin, R. & Huijbregts, M.A.J. (2002). Life Cycle Assessment: An operational guide to the ISO standards, Volume 1, 2 and 3. Centre of Environmental Science Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

Indicator name Reference
GWP100 Forster P,   Ramaswamy V, Artaxo P, Berntsen T, Betts R, Fahey DW, Haywood J, Lean J, Lowe   DC, Myhre G, Nganga J, Prinn R, Raga G, Schulz M and Van Dorland R (2007).   Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing; Climate Change   2007: The Physical Science Basis –Contribution of Working Group I to the   Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC click here to view

IPCC (2013).   Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working   Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on   Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen,   J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge   University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp.IPCC   AR5 click here to view

ODP World   Meteorological Organization, Scientific (WMO) (1999). Assessment of Ozone   Depletion, 1998, Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project – Report No.   44, ISBN 92-807-1722-7, Geneva.World   Meteorological Organization, 2010. Scientific Assessment of ozone Depletion:   2010. click here to view
AP and EP Huijbregts, M.   (1999). Life cycle Impact assessment of acidifying and eutrophying air   pollutants. Calculation of equivalency factors with RAINS-LCA. Interfaculty   Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Environmental Science,   University of Amsterdam. click here to view
POCP Jenkin ME and   Hayman GD (1999). Photochemical ozone creation potentials for oxygenated volatile   organic compounds: sensitivity to variations in   kinetic and mechanistic parameters.   Atmospheric Environment 33(8), pgs1275-1293 click here to view and

Derwent RG,   Jenkin ME, Saunders SM & Pilling MJ (1998). Photochemical ozone creation   potentials for organic compounds in Northwest Europe calculated with a master   chemical mechanism; Atmospheric Environment, 32. Pgs 2429-2441 click here to view

ADPE and ADPF Guinee et al., 2002 click here to view
PMFP Rabl   A     &   Spadaro   JV (2004). The   RiskPoll     software, version 1.051 (dated 19 Feb 2016) click here to view and click here to view  
WSF AWARE (part of   WULCA) click here to view  or

Water Stress   Indicator. Brown, A., Matlock, M. D., 2011. A Review of Water Scarcity   Indices and Methodologies. White Paper # 106. Prepared for the Sustainability   Consortium. click here to view

HTPC, HTPNC and ETP Fantke, P.E.,   Huijbregts, M.A.J., Margni, M., Hauschild, M.Z., Jolliet, O., Mckone, T.E.,   Rosenbaum, R.K., Van De Meent, D. (2015). USEtox 2.0 User Manual (Version 2). click here to view.

Rosenbaum, R.   K., Bachmann, T. M., Swirsky Gold, L., Huijbregts, M., Jolliet, O., Juraske,   R., . . . Hauschild, M. Z. (2008). USEtox—the UNEP-SETAC toxicity model:   recommended characterisation factors for human toxicity and freshwater   ecotoxicity in life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess, 13(7),   532–546. click here to view 

LTP Frischknecht,   R., & Jungbluth, N. (2007). Ecoinvent: overview and methodology.   Dübendorf: Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories. click here to view    or

Bos, U., Horn, R., Beck, T., Lindner, J.,   Fischer, M., Fraunhofer IBP (2016). LANCA: Characterization Factors for Life   Cycle Impact Assessment, Version 2.0, Stuttgart ISBN 978-3-8396-0953-8

IRP Frischknecht,   R., Braunschweig, A., Hofstetter, P. & Suter, P. (2000). Modelling human   health effects of radioactive releases in life cycle impact assessment.   Environ Impact Assess Rev 20, 159‐189. click here to view 

Huijbregts,   M., 2016. ReCiPe2016: a harmonised life cycle impact assessment method at   midpoint and endpoint level – click here to view


1 Required under EN 15804 but, almost all ozone depleting substances of relevance have been banned under the Montreal Protocol for many years and are completely phased out.


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