Most important in the operationalization step is to find a sustainable business model. It’s often easier to find funding for the creation of a database than for the further development and maintenance. Several funding options have already been mentioned: public, private and in-kind.

For the operationalization different options could be pursued:

  1. Continued public funding: in many countries having a national database is seen as a prerequisite for robust metrics on the environmental performance of products, services and organisations. For that public funding is made available. It is, for instance, how ecoinvent has started.
  2. Licenses: one way of establishing a sustainable income is through the sales of licenses to the data. The main background databases, ecoinvent and GaBi, operate on this model, although one of them is a not for profit and the other commercial.
  3. Memberships: people or organisations pay to become a member. These membership fees are used to maintain and extend the database. Members can get benefits in return, like access to the database. The membership contribution can also be in kind.
  4. Philanthropy: funding from foundations can be sought after. Often this will be in the form of a grant.

For any business model it’s key that there’s clear added value of a database. This will generate a foundation for a viable business model and create a business case for the use of LCA.

Other aspects that require attention in the operationalization phase are:

  1. Risk management
  2. Monitoring progress
  3. Routines for database maintenance
  4. Business case for National Databases


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