The sector of Infrastructure includes the socio-technical systems that provide key services like passenger or freight transportation, the provision of commercial space and thermal comfort.

Jan 30th, 2024

Diverse scientific sources underscore the paramount significance of infrastructure in Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Capital goods and infrastructures emerge as noteworthy contributors for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Frischknecht et al., 2007; Agez et al., 2022) and playing a non-negligible role in other environmental impacts, such as eutrophication potential, land use, abiotic depletion potential of minerals and metals, and soil quality (Brogaard et al., 2013; Brogaard and Christensen, 2016; Corradini et al., 2019). Despite their important role for thorough LCIA, infrastructure data also hides potential problems, as model uncertainties and outdated technology can lead to questionable LCIA indicators (Tokede and Rouwette, 2023).

Sector Overview

This Infrastructure sector in ecoinvent comprises 600 datasets for 33 geographies, encompassing infrastructure for construction, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, energy generation and transport, mining, waste treatment, and the hospitality sector. The Infrastructure sector includes the technical systems that provide key services like transportation, water supply and sewage, energy supply and provision of commercial or industrial space (Bergesen et al., 2017). Infrastructures serve as the primary conduits through which natural resources are consumed and products resulting from human activities are manufactured and managed. As a result, infrastructure systems are not designed for direct consumption. However, their role and associated impacts are incorporated into transformation activities to ensure the comprehensive accounting of the production process.

The Infrastructure sector in the ecoinvent database is identified primarily by one or more of the following aspects: 

  • the term "construction", rather than "production", in the activity name;
  • the transformation and occupation of land are included in the inventory; and
  • the decommissioning at the end of the service life is addressed within the producing activity. In other words, the used product undergoes treatment at the production site, such as through demolition.

Sector Highlights 

Infrastructure Construction

The database includes data on the construction of infrastructure systems supporting human activities in resource extraction (quarry and mine construction), manufacturing (paper and pulp, building and construction materials, chemicals, electronic components), transport, water supply, waste treatment, energy generation and transmission, animal husbandry and fisheries, as well as the tourist accommodation sector.

Infrastructure Maintenance 

The database encompasses maintenance data for technical infrastructure systems in five geographical regions: Europe (RER), which includes dedicated data for Switzerland (CH) and Germany (DE), Latin America and the Caribbean (RLA), and the global geography (GLO). These data cover the provision and transport of resources, products, energy, and water use, as well as waste processing necessary for sustaining infrastructure operations. Maintenance data are presented either within the same dataset as construction data (e.g., fish curing plant construction and maintenance) or in a separate dataset (e.g., road maintenance). 

Infrastructure End-of-Life

The modelling of infrastructure decommissioning (or their End-of-Life) is incorporated into the construction dataset. Specific data on the End-of-Life of the railway track are provided in a separate dataset.

Data Providers

ecoinvent data originates from different sources, and infrastructure is transversally included in all ecoinvent database sectors. The providers of the data included in the Infrastructure sector are included in the list below:


  • Sirje Vares (Main Editor), VTT – Technical Research Center of Finland, Finland 
  • Andrew Simons (Co-Editor), 3sp, Switzerland 
  • Respective editors of concerned sectors (ie. Electricity generation plants, agriculture related infrastructure) 

Relevant Sources 

While the database contains all needed information to understand the modelling and calculations behind its contents, the reports below provide further information for enhanced understanding of the activities within the sector. Information on infrastructure for a specific sector can be found in the sector-specific reports, e.g. for information on vehicles, please refer to the transport sector page. 

Agez M, Muller E, Patouiillard L, Sodersten C, Arvesen A, Margni M, Samson R, Majeau-Bettez G (2022) Correcting remaining truncations in hybrid life cycle assessment database compilation. J Ind Ecol 26:121–133. Correcting remaining truncations in hybrid life cycle assessment database compilation

Brogaard L, Riber C, Christensen T (2013) Quantifying capital goods for waste incineration. Waste Mgt 33:1390–1396.

Brogaard LK, Christensen T (2016) Life cycle assessment of capital goods in waste management systems. Waste Mgt 56:561–574.

Corradini G, Pierobon F, Zanetti M (2019) Product environmental footprint of a cross-laminated timber system: a case study in Italy. Int J Life Cycle Assess 24:975–988.

Eickelkamp T (2015) Significance of fixed assets in life cycle assessments. J Clean Prod 101:97–108.

Filimonau, V., Santa Rosa, M., Santana Franca, L., Cánovas Creus, A., Mattos Ribeiro, G., Molnarova, J., Geldres Piumatti, R., (2018). Life Cycle Inventories of Tourism Accommodation Services – Latin America, ecoinvent Association, Zürich, Switzerland. Accessible at SRI project results (registration required).

Frischknecht R, Althaus H, Bauer C, Doka G, Heck T, Jungluth N, Kellenberger D, Nemeccek T (2007) The environmental relevance of capital goods in life cycle assessments of products and services. Int JLife Cycle Assess 12.

Kellenberger D., Althaus H.-J., Jungbluth N. and Künniger T., (2007). Life Cycle Inventories of Building Products. Final report ecoinvent data v2.0 No. 7. Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, Dübendorf, Switzerland. Accessible in the Reports section of version 2. of the ecoinvent database.

Klint E, Peters G (2021) Sharing is caring-the importance of capital goods when assessing environmental impacts from private and shared laundry systems in Sweden. Int J LCA 26:1085–1099.

Tokede, O., Rouwette, R. Problematic consequences of the inclusion of capital goods inventory data in Environmental Product Declarations. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2023).