Spatiotemporal life cycle assessment with Brightway

Practical application of spatially- and temporally-dependent life cycle assessment (LCA) using the open source Brightway software framework. Five teaching modules, each with theory lectures and working examples in the morning, and small-group exercises to translate concepts into applied knowledge in the afternoon. Temporally differentiated LCA includes both locating and allocating inventory datasets across time and applying IPCC models linking emissions to a time series of temperature changes. Spatially differentiated LCA modules can disaggregate global market mixes with local supply chains and apply spatially-differentiated characterisation models.

The course

Course outline

Effective use of Brightway
Introduction to the mental and computational model behind Brightway from the ground up, from raw data to data packages to matrices. Building matrices and solving linear systems.

Small group exercises
Formation of small groups (2-4 people). Exercises covering material in morning session.

Adding temporal information to inventory datasets
Describing dataset time using temporal distributions. Past, current, and future activities. Graph traversal versus linear algebra. Theory and practice in calculation of emission timeseries.

Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Temporal impact assessment
Applying IPCC radiative forcing and temperature models to temporally differentiated emissions. Continuous versus pulse emissions. Characterisation and interpretation of time series inventory results.

Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Spatial data in inventories
Data needs and best practices to locate inventory data in space. Using uncertain data in matrix systems. Disaggregating global activities with region-specific supply chains. Handling “Rest-of-World” locations. Developing maps for specific flows or activities using remote sensing.

Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Regionalised impact assessment
Theory and practice of matching spatial scales of inventory and impact assessment. Importing and using regionalised impact assessment methods. Interpretation of regionalised calculation results.

Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session. Course wrap-up.

Form and academic recognition:

Form: 20 hours teaching sessions, 20 hours exercises. Lectures and interactive examples are in the morning sessions, and small group exercises take place in the afternoons.
Academic recognition: 2 ECTS-point including 10 hours mandatory pre-course reading and familiarisation with Python and Brightway.

Learning outcomes:

  • Compare inventory modelling approaches in Brightway
  • Select tools from Brightway to create and modify inventory datasets
  • Choose and apply temporal distributions to inventory datasets
  • Analyse temporally differentiated life cycle inventory results
  • Describe approaches to distribute climate change impacts over time
  • Calculate temporal life cycle impact assessment of temporal inventory databases
  • Summarise approaches for creating region-specific inventory datasets
  • Outline calculation approaches regionalised life cycle impact assessment
  • Interpret regionalised life cycle impact assessment results