The United States Federal LCA Commons recently published its U.S. Electricity Baseline on the Global Life Cycle Assessment Data (GLAD) platform. This data set is a major milestone in advancing consistency and quality in U.S. federal LCA. Background data such as electricity generation and transmission can drive the results of a LCA and the inclusion of different electricity generation datasets can render two LCA studies un-comparable (though both may be valid on their own). The U.S. Electricity Baseline uses the best publicly available sources and can be used as the foundation for studies across diverse disciplines such as agriculture or infrastructure, making the results more consistent, comparable, and interoperable. The U.S. Electricity Baseline is appropriate for a range of applications, including research or sustainable procurement.

The U.S. EPA, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), developed this data set through a new tool to address the need for current, regionally specific, and consumer-oriented data for life cycle assessment of electricity. The new ElectricityLCI tool creates electricity life cycle models from the best available public data on generation, emissions, and resources used from electricity production, electricity distribution, and supply chain requirements such as extraction and production.

The models track the generation, consumption, and distribution of electricity to end users across the country by region, and link to models of fuel production and power plant infrastructure. The tool prepares and formats the model according to the latest guidelines for Federal Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) data. The partners have used this tool to release the first “electricity baseline” model, which is now available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library on the Federal LCA Commons data portal By integrating this model into their own studies and tools, organizations can use it to improve both the accuracy and consistency of the life cycle results.  The tool is 100% open source  so others can review, use, or make suggestions for updates or changes.