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Spring School 2024: Advanced open source inventory modelling

May 20-24, le Monastère des Augustines, Québec City, Canada

Course overview

Open source tools have dramatically increased our ability to realize the true potential of life cycle assessment. We have tools for cloud calculations, uncertainty and sensitivity assessment, parametric modelling, interfaces to external models, inclusion of spatial and temporal information, generation of new databases for scenarios and prospective LCA, hybridization of multiple databases and database modelling perspectives, and much more. In this spring school we will build on these open source foundations, including Brightway and Premise, to make our inventory models better able to answer our research questions. The instructors will be Romain Sacchi and Chris Mutel, the developers of Premise and Brightway, and Michael Weinold, the creator and maintainer of the Brightway online documentation.

The course will focus on the shift from life cycle inventories as bills of materials to product system models. We will cover the basic of Brightway, and then go into best practices for model development. We will cover both the scientific side, including correlated inputs, sensitivity analysis for parsimonious models, and multiple types of uncertainty, and best practices in software architecture, including documentation standards and tools, testing, data and source version control, linting, and quick tool builders like Streamlit and Dash. We will then apply these concepts while diving deep into Premise, and will write parameterized models to generate custom scenario data. We will also explore the use of correlated uncertainty in Premise calculations.

The structure of the school starts with two days of interactive teaching sessions using Jupyter Notebooks. These notebooks include exercises, and we will discuss the solutions in class. From Wednesday to Friday, you will work in groups of around five people and apply these ideas in group projects. Each group will have a dedicated assistant. Groups will present their results on Friday afternoon.

This autumn school is primarily aimed at PhD and postdocs students who are studying or using life cycle assessment, but others are also welcome to apply. Students who complete the school will receive a certificate for 2 ETCS credit points. Enrolment is limited to 25 people.

The school is organised by Départ de Sentier, a Swiss nonprofit association which supports open sustainability assessment and public engagement, with support from the CIRAIG.


The summer school will be held in the Monastère des Augustines in central Québec City, Canada. This restored monastery is a fantastic place for focused learning and working. We will all stay in the authentic rooms.

Brightway introduction

Some basic understanding of Python is necessary for the school. Brightway has an training and documentation online, and we will offer a half-day online introduction to Brightway for course participants before the school starts.

Starting and ending times

The school sessions start at 9:00 on Monday and ends at 16:00 on Friday. We will offer a small reception for students on Friday evening.


The summer school will be in English. The will be French-speaking instructors for groups who prefer French.

Course fees
Room School fee (CAD)
Single 2700
Shared double 2150

Invoices can be issued in USD, using the current conversion rate. Invoices can also be paid by credit card for an additional ~3% fee.

Course fees includes room, materials, and all meals from Monday to Friday lunch, but do not include transportation. Single room availability is limited. Full refunds are available up to April 3rd, after which only 50% of the course fee will be refunded.