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Quick start: Creating your first cycle
Quick start: Creating your first cycle

This article describes the first steps needed for creating a new cycle, which is your LCA model.

Updated over a week ago

In Earthster you model any activity through cycles. Cycles represent a model of the whole life cycle of a product or a service.

When you start a new cycle, you will be taken through a wizard in which you define some basic traits of your cycle.

The basics of your LCA study

The basics of your product LCA include:

  1. Name: how your cycle will show when searching for it.

  2. Scope: the stages of the life cycle you are interested in. The default is a full life cycle, but you can use this section to record whether your product is intentionally leaving some of those stages out.

Template selection

You don’t have to model from scratch in Earthster. Templates show how the average product in a category is made. If you’re using a template, you’ll start with average data for each life cycle stage in your model.

Bear in mind that templates are only a starting point. Once loaded, you will be able to adjust the values and edit the flows to reflect your specifics, focusing on what matters most.

You can toggle off the use of a template altogether, and you will start with an empty cycle.

NOTE: that starting with an empty template is recommended only for more advanced users since you will receive much less guidance from the get-go.

Searching for templates

You can enter keywords to search in our template database. Once you start typing you will receive suggestions for templates. Pick the one that is most similar to your product and click next to continue.

TIP: Type * in the search bar to see all of the available templates.

Selecting your cycle's geography

By default the geography will be auto-detected from your location. If you wish to model a different geography, select it from the dropdown list.

Setting your geography here also streamlines your selection of data from this point onwards: we will prioritize processes that are relevant to your geography. You can always change these setting afterwords.

Scale - what and how much

After clicking on next you will be taken to the second and last section of the wizard, where you will be able to select the scale of your cycle.

The scale represents the different ways of measuring your cycle. For example are you creating a model for 1 pencil or 1 metric tonne of them?

NOTE: Read more about the similarities and differences with the Life Cycle Assessment term of Functional Unit here.

Types of units

For a new cycle, you are asked to input one or more of the following:

  • Production unit: measures of how many physical units you are producing. This can be measured in units of a given product, mass (kg, lb), or other physical units.

  • Functional units: measures of the functional output of the life cycle. The reason why we produce products is in order to do something with them. When we compare two alternatives, often the only way to draw meaningful conclusions is to compare these functional units. It can be measured in almost any type of unit (number of uses, distances, time used, etc.)

For each, you can edit the values and units, to suit your cycle.

Setting the value for the selected template

One special case is your template's units. They are a particular case of the production unit (USD/unit), used to adapt the template to your particular use case.

Templates are typically measured in currency units, in prices paid to producers, before distribution. To make sure you input the right numbers, we calculate the ratio between your production unit and the templates'. This acts as a safety check.

NOTE: After the cycle has been created, changing the value of the template unit will not update any of the existing values.

Functional units

Measuring the functional output of a cycle is, for many professionals, one of the most difficult tasks. In some cases, these units will evolve as the project becomes more mature (do not worry, you will be able to edit these later).

Because of that, we provide some guidance by asking the user to phrase the function clearly in words to start with. In our experience, this makes the process of defining its units much simpler.

Once the function is described, you can define one or more units for measuring this function. You can define more than one way of measuring, in a way that all those measures are equivalent.

For example, if we were modelling a printer, and our production unit is 1 printer, we could define it as a functional unit with 6 years of use or 2000 pages printed. All those units need to be equivalent to each other.

Describe the function of your product in words, and then specify one or more units for measuring this function.

Later you’ll be able to compare your product with other ways to provide an equal function.

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