Life Cycle Assessment Software Tools – Overview & Comparison7 min read

Life Cycle Assessments are complex calculations, and tools make it much easier. But which LCA tool is the right one for your job?
Toby Liebsch
Product Marketing at Ecochain.

Historically, a Life Cycle Assessment was primarily used for research purposes. It’s no surprise that most LCA tools share this background. The first LCA tools were developed within universities. Even today, many tools that help calculate Life Cycle Assessments have strong ties to the academic field.

Life Cycle Assessment Software: From academic to business solution

Life Cycle Assessment tools have been around since the 1990s. With sustainability, climate change and the circular economy being more publicly debated topics, the market for LCA tools itself has also developed.

Today, there are many different LCA tools available. And they all serve different purposes.

Some still share the academic background of LCA, yet others have been developed to help businesses measure their environmental footprint.

Some are focused on specific industries, while others can be used in many different industries.

In this article, we will give you an overview of the most popular LCA tools. We will compare their functionalities as well as compare them side by side in a table.

In this article, we are featuring our own solutions, Ecochain and Mobius, as well as the four other most established LCA solutions SimaPro, GaBi, oneClickLCA and openLCA.

Who is this overview useful for?

This guide is supposed to provide a quick overview into the world of LCA tools and when to use which tool. However, each sustainability challenge is different. We are happy to help if you have any questions – reach out!

Get the (free) Environmental Briefing every week

Every week, you will receive one email with stories of sustainable change-makers and practical insights on how to reduce your environmental footprint. 

We protect your data.

Foundations of LCA for LCA Tools

As you can also read in our LCA Beginner’s Guide, the goals of an LCA can be very different. As consultant, business owner, sustainability manager, researcher, and student, your goals may vary a lot.

There are many niche solutions in the LCA world that serve niche markets. For this overview, we’re focusing on the solutions that are most used commercially.

LCI Databases: Backbone of LCA calculations

Life Cycle Assessment calculations rely on Life Cycle Inventory data. Whilst many tools offer their own databases, most databases are commercially available for a fee. That means that that data has to be taken into consideration when calculating the price of an LCA tool.

LCA Tools Comparison

Ecochain

Ecochain Logo

Ecochain is an Environmental Intelligence Platform. It is focused on company-wide footprints. That means that it is designed to provide high-level steering information to the company and provide dashboards of the environmental performance. At the same time, Ecochain enables you to create footprints and EPDs for your entire portfolio, all at once.

Ecochain is used in a number of different industries, from construction to packaging, food, agriculture and chemicals.

Ecochain Website

Ecochain
Collaborativeyes
Free versionyes
URLwww.ecochain.com
Price Point💰💰💰💰
Student Pricingyes
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingyes
EPD Generatoryes
Full LCA Reportyes
Supplier Dashboardyes
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Online
User FocusSustainability Professional
Model alternative productsno

openLCA

openLCA is the cheapest solution in our list – because it’s free. openLCA is an open-source LCA solution, which means that it is attractive for anyone starting off in the LCA world. However, openLCA has a technical background, which makes its user interface less appealing, as it requires a certain learning curve.

Note: Any LCA tool relies on the databases you want to use. openLCA provides access to many different databases, and many of them are not free.

The Idea was that a freely available software for Life Cycle Assessment and related approaches will open many different, new application fields in science, education, training, and peer-review.

openLCA

In a previous version of this article, we falsely claimed that openLCA doesn’t support collaborative functions or a desktop version. We corrected that in this article. They also offer consulting services at greendelta.com.

openLCA Website

openLCA
Collaborativeyes
Free versionyes
URL
Price Point💰
Student Pricingfree
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingno
EPD Generatoryes
Full LCA Reportno
Supplier Dashboardno
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Software
User FocusLCA Consultant
Model alternative productsyes

Mobius

Mobius is our new solution for product environmental footprints. Mobius is built with product design in mind. That means that you can model your product and compare different product scenarios in Mobius, for example if you want to test the impact of a different material.

Mobius Website

Mobius
Collaborativeyes
Free versionfree trial
URLecochain.com/mobius
Price Point💰💰
Student Pricingyes
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingno
EPD Generatorno
Full LCA Reportno
Supplier Dashboardno
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Online
User FocusProduct Developer
Model alternative productsyes

SimaPro

SimaPro has been established for more than 30 years and is probably the most well-known LCA Tool in the market. SimaPro is used primarily in the academic field and by experienced LCA consultants. SimaPro is a complex application with many optional add-ons that make it very versatile, and it enables its users to dive deep into the LCA calculations of a product.

SimaPro Website

SimaPro
Collaborativeno
Free versionno
URLwww.pre-sustainability.com/all-about-simapro
Price Point💰💰💰💰💰
Student Pricingyes
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingno
EPD Generatoryes
Full LCA Reportyes
Supplier Dashboardno
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Download
User FocusLCA Consultant
Model alternative productsyes

GaBi

Like SimaPro, GaBi has been established since the mid 90’s. It is also a very established LCA tool, being used in many industries, especially in its home market, Germany. Just like SimaPro, GaBi is a rather technical solution with many potential add-ons for product development. GaBi is used especially by consultants, but also in-house.

GaBi
Collaborativeno
Free versionno
URLwww.gabi-software.com
Price Point💰💰💰💰💰
Student Pricingyes
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingno
EPD Generatoryes
Full LCA Reportyes
Supplier Dashboardno
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Download
User FocusLCA Consultant
Model alternative productsyes

OneClickLCA

OneClickLCA is the only application in our list that is specifically designed for one industry – the construction sector. Because OneClickLCA focuses on one specific industry, it offers many functionalities specifically needed for the construction sector. This is why the solution from Finland caters well to certificates like LEAD and BREEAM

OneClickLCA Website

OneClickLCA
Collaborativeno
Free versionfree trial
URLhttps://www.oneclicklca.com/
Price Point💰💰💰💰
Student Pricingyes
Features
Product Footprintyes
Activity-based Footprintingno
EPD Generatoryes
Full LCA Reportyes
Supplier Dashboardno
Offers consultancyyes
Software or Online?Online
User FocusLCA Consultant
Model alternative productsyes

LCA Software – Overview

We hope that this overview helped you get more insights into the world of LCA solutions. We have summed up the results in the table below.

EcochainMobiusopenLCASimaProGaBioneclicklca
Collaborativeyesyesyesnonono
Free versionyesfree trialyesnonofree trial
URLwww.ecochain.comecochain.com/mobiushttp://www.openlca.org/www.pre-sustainability.com/all-about-simaprowww.gabi-software.comhttps://www.oneclicklca.com/
Price Point💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰
Student Pricingyesyesfreeyesyesyes
Features
Product Footprintyesyesyesyesyesyes
Activity-based Footprintingyesnonononono
EPD Generatoryesnoyesyesyesyes
Full LCA Reportyesnonoyesyesyes
Supplier Dashboardyesnonononono
Offers consultancyyesyesyesyesyesyes
Software or Online?OnlineOnlineSoftwareDownloadDownloadOnline
User FocusSustainability ProfessionalProduct DeveloperLCA ConsultantLCA ConsultantLCA ConsultantLCA Consultant
Model alternative productsnoyesyesyesyesyes

Get the (free) Environmental Briefing every week

Every week, you will receive one email with stories of sustainable change-makers and practical insights on how to reduce your environmental footprint. 

We protect your data.