Guidance and Criteria Catalog for Pathfinder Data Model Extensions

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This document defines data model extensions to the Pathfinder Framework data model and the criteria catalog for conforming data model extensions.

1. Introduction

The Pathfinder Framework gives guidance for footprint information calculation shared by a multitude of industries and sectors. The Framework itself and the data attributes defined in it (the Pathfinder Data Model) are – by design – industry-agnostic.

The Pathfinder Network is the realization of the Pathfinder Framework with aspiration to become "an open and global network of interoperable solutions for the secure peer-to-peer exchange of accurate, primary and verified product emissions data – across all industries and value chains” – quotation from Pathfinder Vision Doc.

The Pathfinder Framework and the Pathfinder Network evolved from the PACT Initiative.

A variety of sector-specific initiatives indicate that it would be worthwhile extending the Pathfinder data model; PACT Initiative members have also expressed interest in an extension. Adding more highly specified attributes to the data model would enhance its utility.

The creation of data model extensions also provides an opportunity to open the Pathfinder Network up to other emissions-data-related business cases. The future openness and adaptability of the Pathfinder data model can be considered a key enabler to converging onto a single, shared emissions-data-exchange format.

2. Subject

The subject of this document (“the Criteria Catalog”) is the intersection between the Pathfinder Framework and its derived data model as specified in the Use Case 001 Specification.

The criteria catalog defines data model extensions to the Pathfinder Framework data model and their conformance. Its goal is to enable and motivate the use of the Pathfinder Network in as many domains as possible while adhering to the values of the PACT Initiative.

2.1. Data Model Extension example

An initiative from the logistics sector decides to use the Pathfinder data model. In order to enable GHG carbon emission accounting and reporting on this matter, they define an extension. This extension defines attributes related to the forthcoming ISO 14083, which covers the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gases from transport chain operations.

2.2. Business value

  1. Increasing the utility of the Pathfinder Network for its members: by allowing them to enrich the data exchanged such that the data has an even higher value – for instance through better explainability of values

  2. To increase the reach of the Pathfinder Network by pro-actively integrating other initiatives and networks with / into the Pathfinder Network: and thereby improving the utility of the Pathfinder Network for its members

  3. To increase the likelihood for the Pathfinder Framework to become a ubiquitous approach for GHG emissions and Scope 3 emission data exchange: by opening up the data model, we hope to increase the likelihood for others to pick up the Pathfinder Framework. This would mean companies need to support fewer accounting frameworks and technical capabilities to exchange GHG emission data

2.3. Conformance

See § 5.1.1 Criterion 1: Definitions for the definition.

2.4. Not in scope


Emission data which is not GHG emission data is explicitly excluded from this document and its criteria catalog. The PACT community would like to apply the same requirements and standards to third-party emissions data as for GHG-related data. The criterias required for this are yet to be defined.

Note: Future revisions of the guidance are expected to relax the restriction on GHG emission data.

3. Glossary

Pathfinder Data Model

The set of data attributes stemming from Pathfinder Framework plus its concrete realization as specified in Use Case 001 Specification.

Pathfinder Framework

See the Pathfinder Framework Version 1 Document.

Pathfinder Network

The logical realization of the Pathfinder Framework as a network of interoperable solutions for the secure peer-to-peer exchange of accurate, primary and verified product emissions data – across all industries and value chains.

Use Case 001 Specification

See Use Case 001 Specification document.


The footprint document related to a product, as defined in the Use Case 001 Specification.


Product Category Rules


Greenhouse Gas

4. Guidance

This section is non-normative

4.1. Decision Tree 1: Should I consider the creation of an extension?

Decision Tree 1 is to decide whether a data model creation should be considered.

Decision tree to decide on the creation of an extension.

4.2. Decision Tree 2: Should I consider the addition of a certain attribute to an extension?

The following decision tree explains whether a specific attribute is deemed conforming for inclusion with an extension.

Decision tree to be applied to each attribute of a Data Model Extension

5. Criteria Catalog

5.1. Definitions and possible scopes

5.1.1. Criterion 1: Definitions


An extension is a set of well-defined additional data attributes that extend the Pathfinder Framework data model.

Any entity, individual, sector-specific initiative, trade body, initiatives or other groups of entities can define an extension.

The purpose of an extension is to increase the utility of Pathfinder data model for users wanting to exchange product-level GHG emissions data.


An extension that conforms to each of the criteria defined in this document is called a “conforming extension.”

5.1.2. Criterion 2: Possible scopes

The general subject matter of extensions must be in the context of product data. The data of an extension can therefore be related to product-specific data, product-specific emissions data, manufacturing processes or services.

Potential scopes
  1. Emissions in the context of logistics processes

  2. Product-specific information such as

    1. Information about manufacturing processes – e.g. "produced with 100% renewable energy"

    2. Information about factories

    3. Information on specific product qualities, features, etc. – e.g. "this product is vegan"

    4. Categorization of the product

An extension shall not contain additional environmental attributes beyond greenhouse gas emissions.

Note: a future version of the Criteria Catalog will extend the scope to other, non-GHG emission data as well.

5.2. Data attributes

5.2.1. Criterion 3: Clear separation of Pathfinder Framework data attributes and extensions

Data attributes must be uniquely attributable to and distinguishable between

In the future, it must be possible to extend a Pathfinder Data Model with additional attributes that are currently not yet known. Such evolution must not lead to possible ambiguities between Pathfinder-specified data and that of extensions.

5.2.2. Criterion 4: No overriding

The attribute or attributes of an extension may not override or even partially override information that is already included or covered in the Pathfinder Framework in any form or sense.

An extension has an attribute “GHG Emissions”. The definition of the attribute is an exact copy of the Pathfinder framework. Such an extension is then deemed non-conforming as it (needlessly) duplicates an attribute from the Pathfinder Data Model.
An extension has an attribute “GHG Emissions”, but this time with a definition that is non-conforming with the Pathfinder Framework. Such an extension is then deemed non-conforming as it (needlessly) duplicates an attribute from the Pathfinder Data Model and changes its semantics. This is further discouraged as it leads to ambiguity and misalignment at a methodological-level.

5.3. Publishing of an extension

5.3.1. Criterion 5: Publishing of an Extension

The authors can publish an extension by making it available to the public for free over the Internet. The authors of an extension are responsible for performing necessary compliance checks (competition law, confidentiality, intellectual property, etc.) before publication.

The license of a published extension must grant users, commercial entities, software vendors, researchers the right to use the extension in a commercial and non-commercial manner for free.

The license should allow for modifications or creation of derived works.

5.4. Interoperability

5.4.1. Criterion 6: Referencing, Completeness, and Self-Description

Once an extension is used to exchange product-level emission data, the data related to the extension

  1. must reference the underlying data schema in a machine-readable format.

  2. should contain a reference to the documentation of the extension data


The data of an extension must be complete in the following sense: it must be possible to make full use of it without extra or additional effort. Such extra effort includes e.g. the need to access another system, database, website, etc.

Non-conforming extension: An extension has an attribute ReferenceId which links to an external system and special purpose data access mechanism (and the information referenced is not otherwise available within the Product Footprint statement shared). Such linking between systems and data access regimes is discouraged. It limits interoperability, and it is unclear, whether, how, and if the receiving entity is even able to access the data referenced there.

5.4.2. Criterion 7: Digital Representation of an Extension

A published extension must include relevant information for experts such that they can make meaningful use of the extension (“semantic interoperability”). Additionally, a published publication must include technical information to reach interoperability at the technical level (“data interoperability” especially).

5.4.3. Criterion 8: Extensions per Product Footprint

A ProductFootprint can contain 1 or more extensions.

6. Outlook


The publication of the criteria catalog is the starting point for a more extensive process.

We expect that there will be further publications in the following areas:

  1. Definition of an online catalog of published extensions: The PACT Community foresees the establishment of an online catalog of published extensions. The governance structure, guiding principles, and methodological requirements for extensions to be published there, will be scoped after the publication of this document.

  2. **Expansion of the criteria catalog’s scope beyond GHG emission data**: There is already great interest in expanding the scope of this catalog beyond GHG emission data, such as data on air quality, water use, biodiversity among many others. Further specifications in this context can be seen as a possible future task resulting in an extension of the guideline. When doing so, we envision applying the same principles and methods that we use within the PACT community for the expansion into other impact factors as well.


Terms defined by this specification