Life cycle inventory
Following the goal and scoping exercise, the second stage of the AHEC-commissioned LCA study will be to compile the life cycle inventory database. The inventory will encompass all data on environmental quantities for all the individual processes involved during extraction, manufacturing, transport, use and disposal of American hardwoods and of competing materials.
The data will include both "input" quantities – in the form of materials, energy, or chemicals - and "output" quantities in the form of air emissions, water emissions or solid waste. Other types of exchanges or interventions, such as land use change, may also be included. Data will be presented in tables.
Primary data will be compiled for American hardwoods, for example through questionnaires and other survey techniques backed by visits for on-site verification. The precise nature of primary data collection and of sampling and survey techniques will be determined following consideration and investigation of various issues including: the location and extent of the areas in which the species is grown, manufactured and used; and the variation in management, processing and waste-disposal regimes between these areas.
It is expected that much of the inventory data for alternative products to American hardwoods will be compiled from data already contained in one of a range of public databases. Examples include the European Commission's "European Reference Life Cycle Database" (ELCD), the U.S. Life-Cycle Inventory (USLCI) Database produced by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Athena Life Cycle Inventory database. PE International, the organisation commissioned to undertake the AHEC study, also maintains a proprietary database.