How to become an LCA expert?

I’m an architect by training and have been taking in many webinars/tutorials/groups/books/articles on LCA but would like to know if there’s a more formal way (via coursework, intensive training or other) to become an expert in this topic. Are there paths beyond self-directed online learning and practicing with the standard tools (tally, etc)? Interested in academic programs, post-professional coursework, research. Thank you!

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There are some academic programs, though I am not personally familiar with them so will leave it to others to contribute in that area.

In case you are not familiar with it, I will share the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA). It is a great community of practice that offers webinars, training, workshops, committees, etc. There is also the LCACP (LCA Certified Practitioner) exam available for those experienced in LCA looking for a credential.

The annual conference will be virtual Sept 21-24, with pre-conference workshops on Sept 20 that have a lot of good training content.
An LCA Institute track is offered throughout the conference which is heavily focused on introductory content, along with regular sessions that can get much more into the weeds.

We’re a friendly group, so if you haven’t connected with us, consider attending the conference.

Cheryl Smith (Owens Corning)
ACLCA Industry Committee Co-Chair


Thank you Cheryl, I’ll check it out! I didn’t know about this group, appreciate the links.

Lara, there is/was a course through Harvard Extension School’s Sustainability Program (Life Cycle and Supply Chain Sustainability Assessment | Harvard University) that might be of some value. However, it may be more rudimentary than you’re looking for.
Relatedly, the former director of that Program, Tom Gloria, leads a consulting firm doing LCAs and he’s generally willing to share information for folks looking to learn.
I’d be happy to introduce if that would be helpful.

Thank you Adam! Great resources.

Surrey University in the UK runs week-long modules on life cycle thinking and on life cycle assessment, which can be taken as stand alone courses or as part of a Masters. The focus is on LCA generally rather than on LCA within the built environment. They have been running them virtually during covid, but may return to face to face teaching.

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UCL in the UK also runs short courses, again focussed on LCA generally rather than in the built environment. Conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): from Theory to Practical Application | Short courses - UCL – University College London

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One Click LCA offered a free summer school recently (Aug 2-20) on LCA theory and software training for buildings. They said they may run the same courses in the near future as well. Join their group for more info: “LCA made easy user group” (Sign Up | LinkedIn) on Linkedin

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Thanks, looks great but it’s restricted to students and recent grads…would love to find something like this for practicing architects.

They said priority will be given to students and recent graduates but I saw practitioners and university professors among participants as well.

Two new courses are about to launch at the BC Institute of Technology. The courses are self-directed remote learning, thus easy to do for working professionals across N. America. These courses are specific to whole-building LCA and intended for practitioners who want a solid technical foundation when using simplified wblca tools. My hope is that these courses eventually become part of a certification program.

CESA 1160 - Introduction to Embodied Carbon & Whole-Building Life Cycle Assessment
Jan 17 to Feb 14, 2022
Tuition: C$225.00

CESA 1161 - Advanced Life Cycle Assessments Using Impact Estimator Software
Feb 23 to Apr 4, 2022
Tuition C$375.00

@jennifer.oconnor the CESA 1161 course sounds like it could be a good option, but seems potentially limiting with only looking at Athena.

There really needs to be a professional accreditation/certificate program for performing whole building LCAs, like there is for energy modeling. Or is there…?

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Yes, I absolutely agree there needs to be professional accreditation for WBLCA. These two courses are a good start. The first course addresses the LCA standards that everyone doing WBLCA or using EPDs ought to be familiar with, for appropriate technical grounding. The second course is keyed to new highly comprehensive guidelines for WBLCA, soon to be published by the National Research Council Canada. While the second course uses the Athena Impact Estimator for a hands-on component, the course covers fundamentals about data sources, interpretation, reporting and uncertainty that are relevant to all tools. The Athena Institute developed the content for these courses, however I imagine BCIT would be open to collaborating with other organizations to add lectures with content specific to other tools.


@jennifer.oconnor - great info!