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

Monday 24th April, 9:00-13:00: 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.

Monday 24th April, 15:00-18:00: Small group exercises
Formation of small groups (2-4 people). Exercises covering material in morning session.

Tuesday April 25th, 9:00-13:00: 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.

Tuesday 25th April, 15:00-18:00: Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Wednesday 26th April, 9:00-13:00: 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.

Wednesday 26th April, 15:00-18:00: Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Thursday 27th April, 9:00-13:00: 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.

Thursday 27th April, 15:00-18:00: Small group exercises
Exercises covering material in morning session.

Friday 28th April, 9:00 – 13:00: 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.

Friday 28th April, 15:00-18:00: 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

The practicalities

When and where?:

April 24th – 28th, 2023 
Monday-Thursday: 9:00-13:00 & 15:00-19:00; Friday: 9:00-13:00 & 14:00-18:00
Barcelona (exact location to be determined)

Participant prerequisites:

Masters degree or equivalent. Participants must bring own laptop computer. A good understanding and/or experience with life cycle assessment is an asset.

Teaching staff: 

Dr. Christopher Mutel, ecoinvent association / Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Creator of Brightway

Price and conditions:

6000 EUR – for professionals (consultancy, industry, private)
3000 EUR – for university personnel (postdocs, professors)
1500 EUR – for PhD students
Second registration from the same institution offered at 50% discount, if enrolling at the same time (enquire before you register). Does not include travel, accommodation and meals. A map will be sent once course is confirmed to guide your as you look for accommodation.


Please apply via mail to the course secretary: Inger Weidema:
Registration deadline: February 24th 2023.
Please note that # of participants is capped, so we recommend early registration.