Carbon Factor Databases

I am completing a desk study of carbon factor databases, to share with people who are not in this field, but who will be part of making digital development decisions.

OneClick LCA is currently the top of this list, as its carbon factor database is (I believe) the largest and most comprehensive, by some margin. It also sets out data quality standards / minimum requirements for carbon factor data to be included in its database.

2050 Materials is an interesting / emerging carbon factor dataset.

EC3 is an open carbon factor dataset, with a unique and (apparently) robust “uncertainty” feature. However, it is still a much smaller dataset than OneClick or 2050 Materials, and still heavily US-biased.

eTool is not very transparent, so I don’t know FACTS. I just think it’s Australia-centred…

Can I get any further comparison advice, or pointers to any additional COMPARABLE datasets I may have missed?


Some other “carbon factor” datasets that are top of mind:

  • OpenImpact. A new-ish (and very exciting!) Building Transparency data product.
  • Gabi/Sphera. In addition to their LCI data product (Gabi, which is behind Tally), they also sell generic carbon factors. They now call this “Sphera Managed LCA Content” to be pithy.
  • Inventory of Carbon & Energy (ICE) Database. You’ll see this embedded in a lot of free tools.
  • Quartz. Mostly deprecated, as far as I know.
  • EEIO data. If this is general list of carbon factors, are you interested in spend-based factors? There’s a plethora of government databases here, as well as some proprietary versions (e.g., CEDA from VitalMetrics)

With your list and this list, though, each dataset is assembled in different ways and meant for different pruposes. Gabi, for instance, is generic harmonized data. EC3 collects EPDs product-specific data but product-specific EPDs aren’t all harmonized. 2050 Materials provides generic data, but it’s calculated a measure of center from a collection of EPDs. OneClick provides data from multiples sources together, in addition to other data products–I’d recommend digging into their QA/QC (there are some corner cases). Etc. Etc.

Re: comparability. I 100% agree that this is a major issue, both within and between datasets. And within and between all the datasets mentioned so far, there’s likely some comparability issues worth digging into. Each data product and modeling approach is for a different use case, some of which might be more relevant to what you have in mind.

Happy data’ing!

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Carbon Factors are published by each country for all of the SIC Industry Sector as well as commodity factors they update annualy, they also offer spend based factors by sic and then commodity code which will give you the best possible data for decision making as well as defendable data to investors

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Mike, Thanks for this. I’ve seen some of the EEIO data. Can you share a link to one of your EEIO data sources?
Is this one you use?

Yes for the US that is an older listing on the EPA Website contact the administrator and request an updated spreadsheet they have one that covers 2021 values we use spend based to calculate the carbon footprint for our clients (currently approved method by ISO due to the lack of EPDs) you will find that the energy, water, and number of employees at the job site are not included nor is the Land Use Change calculation etc. which are all required to develop an accurate estimate. Step two is deprecation schedule of the asset which is where the financial deprecation schedule and the carbon footprint are reduced at the same rate per IFRS, ISSB, and SASB requirements in financial reporting

Have you done a climate risk model? if not it is required by TCFD and IFRS for Reporting, I would also look at TNFD Requirements and Reporting as that will be a requirement of TCFD in 2024 Reporting

Thanks everyone,

Your mention (@jackrusk) of openIMPACT has pushed me to have a second look. Very interesting methodology behind it.

I should’ve clarified that I’m not as interested in LCI carbon factor datasets – those are the datasets that are used to build EPDs, if I understand them correctly?

ICE and similar datasets: An excellent dataset, but my desk study needs the bigger global datasets (e.g. OneClick includes the ICE dataset among many others).

I’ve seen the open documentation on the Oneclick support site re: their data quality policies. I would be interested in any other insight you might have. Feel free to message me directly if that’s easier.

Here’s a recent paper that describes (among many other things) why combining product-specific EPDs and LCI data is inappropriate:

Software products like OneClick allow LCA practitioners to combine LCI and EPD data. On many projects, of course, we need to make this compromise to demonstrate the difference we can make with environmentally preferable procurement decisions. But this opens up a number of very serious data quality and comparability concerns which no software platform or data product is wholly equipped to address—it’s moreso an issue of how EPDs are written.

So I’d consider OneClick better suited for more expert LCA practitioners because it doesn’t have the guardrails that TallyLCA has for ensuring harmonization of the background data.

If I implied that OneClick had data quality issues, that wasn’t quite my intent. OneClick puts in a lot of work to get things right. My point was more that it is very easy to be very wrong when combining LCI and EPD data, regardless of the software platform.

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Thanks Jack, really interesting and useful insight! And no misunderstanding about OneClick statements either :blush:

Question: Do the various OneClick tools, which limit the data available for different LCA purposes (e.g. for LEED-compliant LCA, or BREEAM) not solve the problem of mixed data? LCI and EPD mixing, that is.

I genuinely don’t know for sure. Now I think about it, and based on your message, I’m thinking about the datapoints in other parts of the OneClick input process, outside the Building Materials tab – on construction operations, and other tabs. I’m thinking a lot of those might be LCI datapoints. However, they’re a relatively small portion of a typical building assessment.

I appreciate there are tools available in OneClick with fewer restrictions on database usage too.

I appreciate your time and thoughts, thanks very much Jack.