News 2010 Detail

Towards future-proof databases: having “good data” isn’t professional enough

The ability of a company to improve and further develop its level of Sustainability in a professional way depends more and more on one major issue:  This is the availability of comprehensive, suitable and internationally applicable data.

In November, at the international LCA conference (Ecobalance) in Japan, PE INTERNATIONAL presented its view on how to future-proof databases.


The further development of databases and the availability of sound data have become more important in recent years. Currently several international networks like ILCD or SETAC/UNEP are working on harmonization and frameworks for future-proofing databases. PE is following and supporting this process to help ensure both valid methodology and practicality.


Companies are faced with increasing challenges and requirements with respect to environmental protection, in particular matters to do with climate change and the use of energy. It can reasonably be expected that legal regulation will intensify in this area over the ensuing years. Carbon and water footprints, decoupling growth from CO2-emissions and/or energy demand are a few buzzwords which describe these upcoming challenges. Companies need to prepare early for this development in order to sustain their competitive edge. Facing these challenges successfully needs comprehensive know how, support from experts, sophisticated IT-solutions and above all, reliable and future-proof data.


But what makes data “professional data”? In fact professional sustainability businesses need more than just good data; they also need a professional database environment. This means databases have to be developed both with know-how from industry and with software solutions systems in mind.


From this perspective, current processes of database development and international standardization are not and should not be only about new methods and scientific findings. Rather they should combine constant methodological development with a continuous test of practicality and applicability to the many contexts in which they are used.  LCA in an industrial context aims to optimize products and processes, rather than to test theories. Therefore data and methods have to be practical and useable. Implementation of scientific methods in industry without consideration for practicalities would almost certainly lead to inconsistent and incorrect decisions in the development of products and/or industrial processes.


On the other hand, taking the practical view alone could simplify approaches too much or may not accurately address industrial impact. It will be the task of the ongoing harmonization process as well as further database development to keep both perspectives in balance so that each benefits from the other. In this way practical application of LCA in a professional environment will be achieved.


As a software and database provider since 1990 with comprehensive experience in industrial applications as well as having substantial standardization and methodological experience in international initiatives, PE can play a key role in reaching this goal. Over the last 20 years our databases have been successfully established and have attained international relevance. One of the reasons is certainly that at PE we maintain and update our databases at regular intervals and pay constant attention to new methodological and technological innovations. In this way we ensure the provision of ’state of the art’ professional data. PE is also able to provide databases which are flexible enough to cope with different areas of the ISO standards e.g. carbon or water footprinting, environmental product declarations or sustainability quantification.


It is essential that databases have this flexibility to cope with different applications, methodologies and technological innovation. ‘Good data’ needs to be ‘professional’ date – where more than just data collection and documentation are considered. PE relies on its 3 pillars approach to database development and maintenance: These are: the Master Database Concept, Consulting and Engineering input with and from Industry and software development know-how.


For more information please contact Dr. Martin Baitz