Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organisational Environmental Footprint (OEF)

The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is “a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life cycle” [JRC 2010, p. 2]. It was developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in collaboration with its Directorate-General for Environment (DG Environment), and is based on various existing standards, among others the GHG Protocol and the ISO standards on environmental management and life cycle assessment. Compared to an actual Life Cycle Assessment, the PEF:

  • Makes an aggregated assessment for all the environmental impact categories combined, and
  • Can be carried out by engineers and environmental managers who may not have expertise in environmental assessment methods.

To allow comparison of different products, PEF is complemented by category rules (PEFCRs) “in order to further increase methodological harmonisation, specificity, relevance and reproducibility for a given product-type”. [JRC 2010, p. 2]

The Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) was also developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre in collaboration with DG Environment. It is “a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a goods/services-providing organisation from a life cycle perspective. OEF studies are produced for the overarching purpose of seeking to reduce the environmental impacts associated with organisational activities, taking into account supply chain activities (from extraction of raw materials,
through production and use, to final waste management)”
[JRC 2010, p. 1]. Put simply, the OEF is similar to the PEF, but instead of focusing on one product or service, it takes into account the aggregated impact of an entire company or organisation with all its products and services.


Standardisation initiatives addressing a systems approach to energy efficiency are increasing in number, but have a difficult route to market.