This page includes answers to a list of frequently asked questions from users of the ecoinvent database.

  • Testing the database
  • Available datasets
  • Accessing the database
  • Life Cycle Impact Assessment
  • Data sources
  • System models
  • Markets
  • License types
  • Terms of use
  • Free-of-charge licenses

Basics about the ecoinvent database

Is a test version of the database available?

We do not offer a test version of the database. However, you can create a free guest user account.

As an unlicensed user, you can freely access documentation for all datasets in the ecoinvent database. We provde two example datasets on our website, which will give you an impression of what the linked datasets contain.

Check out our support guide to discover which datasets are available in all the system models.


Which datasets are available in the ecoinvent database?

To get a comprehensive overview of all datasets contained in the ecoinvent database, we provide a database overview file. You can find this file here.

How can I access the database?

The ecoinvent database can be accessed online on the ecoinvent website as well as through leading software tools.

What is a Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)? Which methods are available in the ecoinvent database?

Learn more about Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) and which LCIA methods implemented in the ecoinvent database here.

Where does the data in the ecoinvent database come from?

There are multiple paths through which data can find its way into the ecoinvent database; in all cases, ecoinvent obtains the right to publish the data non-exclusively, but the data creator remains the data owner.

Most of our inventory datasets are generated in data collection projects dedicated to specific economic sectors and countries or regions. To realize these projects, we commonly collaborate with external global partners with local, sectorial, and methodological expertise, such as research institutes, academia, consultancies, or industry associations. Our team also supports individual researchers or companies directly approaching us with data they want to publish in ecoinvent. Finally, some projects are carried out internally by our small team of LCA experts.

Accordingly, also the sources our data relies on are diverse. Where possible, our external partners will provide primary data, for example, from field visits or interviews. Secondary data are preferably sourced from publicly available statistics, peer-reviewed scientific literature, and databases complemented with other public (industry) data such as company reports, emission registers, etc.

Regardless of the type of data collection, all datasets undergo a thorough review from internal and independent external experts to ensure they fulfill ecoinvent quality and transparency requirements before they are published in the database.

What is a system model?

System models set the methodological rules to calculate the life cycle inventories (LCIs) of products and services activities (Undefined Unit Processes (UPR)) and apply different assumptions to determine the supply (linking) and the distribution of impacts between producers and consumers of products and services (allocation and substitution).

Different system models, namely, “Allocation, cut-off by classification,” “Allocation, cut-off, EN15804”, “Allocation at the point of substitution,” and “Substitution, consequential, long-term,” are offered to meet the demand of different types of studies.

Learn more here.

What is a market?

Learn more about markets, market groups, transport, and product losses in markets here.

Which type of license do I need?

Commercial single-user licenses are best suited for expert users who need direct access to the complete database. Enterprise licenses offer a set of single-user licenses for multiple experts working in the same organization.

Integrating ecoinvent data into software and tools, including internal tools, calls for a Developer license.

Individual faculties of schools and universities can apply for an Educational license. Students of educational institutions are recommended to apply for access through their faculty or professorship lead.

Detailed information about our license offerings can be found here.

What are the terms of use for working with the ecoinvent database?

The right to use our database or any ecoinvent dataset(s) is subject to acceptance of our End User License Agreement (EULA).

Does ecoinvent offer free licenses?

Free-of-charge licenses are available for universities and schools in low- and low-middle-income countries according to the updated classification from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), published in the World Economic Situation and Prospects Report 2024. Students at educational institutions are recommended to apply for access through their faculty or professorship lead.