ILCD handbook


The ILCD handbook was developed by the Institute for Environment and Sustainability in the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), in co-operation with the Environment DG. It is part of the Commission’s promotion of sustainable consumption and production patterns. The ILCD Handbook is in line with international standards and has been established through a series of extensive public and stakeholder consultations.

The JRC has just released a Reference Report (JRC RR) as an umbrella document for the guidance documents of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook. This JRC RR provides overview information on the components of the ILCD Handbook and their interrelationship, as well as supporting documents and tools. For policy developers, contracting officers and scientific officers it provides guidance on referring to the ILCD Handbook and its related components in policy and business context, such as in policies, for service contracts and for research contracts.


The ILCD handbook consists of a set of documents that are in line with the international standards on LCA (ISO 14040/44):

  • The General guide for Life Cycle Assessment consists of both a comprehensive, detailed guide as well as a "cook-book"-style guide for experienced LCA practitioners. It covers all aspects of conducting an LCA: defining the objective and target audience, gathering data on resource consumption and emissions that can be attributed to a specific product, calculating the contribution to impacts on the environment, checking the robustness and significance of results and conclusions, and reporting and reviewing to ensure transparency and quality.
  • The Specific guide for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data sets builds on the general guide. It provides more detail for the generation of specific types of data. For example, it describes how to create LCI data sets that best reflect the average situation regarding emissions and resource consumption.
  • The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) guides provide requirements for assessing the emissions and resource consumption associated with a product in terms of impacts on the environment, human health, and resources depletion. It outlines criteria against which models and indicators for use in LCIA should be evaluated, covering both scientific aspects and stakeholder acceptability. The guides consist of:
  • The guide on Review schemes for Life Cycle Assessment presents the minimum requirements for review for life cycle data or assessments for different applications. The guide on Reviewer qualification specifies the requirements on the experiences and expertise of reviewers.