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eTool Announces Partnership with 1% for the Planet

eTool, the market leader in life cycle assessment software for the built environment today joined 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support non-profit organizations focused on lowering carbon emissions and environmental conservation and sustainability.

 

“By motivating sustainable change in the way we design and build, we’ve helped create low carbon buildings across Australia, so committing to 1% for the Planet and protecting the environment was a natural step for us. The real heroes of course are the likes of Yvonne and Craig who started 1% for the Planet and motivated people like us to rise to the challenge” says eTool co-founder/director Richard Haynes.
“Signing on to 1% for the Planet shows eTool has a strong commitment to investing in sustainability efforts,” says Terry Kellogg, CEO of One Percent for the Planet. “They’re using business as a tool to engage and motivate their stakeholders while partnering with environmental organizations that complement their brand. We’re excited to welcome eTool to our global network.”
From December 2012, eTool will join 29 leading Australian businesses in donating at least 1% of their revenue to environmental non-profits. As Haynes explains, “our donation demonstrates that even small companies just starting out can share their success, give back to the community and protect the planet at the same time.”
Over the last year, eTool has helped residential and commercial developers substantially lower the carbon footprint of their buildings with over 40 construction projects assessed to date. Each design is also analysed by eTool’s team of engineers for improvements, which are then calculated into CO2 reductions and given to the clients. So far, nearly 17,000 tonnes of CO2 reductions have been identified through eTool’s design recommendations, with the majority already implemented or committed to.
“We’re stoked at the numbers, as it’s equivalent to the annual emissions of over 500 Australians! For a start up organisation with only four full time staff, we’re already having a pretty big impact and plan to push it even further next year,” says Haynes.
For 2013, the company has set a target of helping their clients reduce their building’s carbon emissions by at least 150,000 tonnes. With interest from the US and EU growing and high profile sustainable projects such as BioRegional’s 5X4 project in Melbourne welcoming their input, eTool are proof that Australian innovation can lead to environmental change and industry success even during an economic downturn.
Members of 1% for the Planet contribute one percent of annual sales directly to any of the approved non-profit environmental organizations in the network.  Non-profits are approved based on referrals, track record and sustainability focus. Over 2,900 non-profits worldwide are currently approved.
“As we near our 10th anniversary we’re celebrating that our members have contributed nearly $100 million of critically needed funds,” comments Kellogg. “The understanding that brands can succeed financially by investing in the environment is clearly apparent, and consumer demand is driving a lot of this success. The average annual revenue growth of the companies in the 1% for the Planet network from 2008 to 2011 was over 50%, even though the overall economy has been struggling. There’s a paradigm shift happening here and we’re thrilled that so many innovative businesses are sling-shotting the movement in to high gear.”

About 1% for the Planet

Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet is a platform of credibility and engagement for environmentally conscious brands that are truly committed to making a positive impact with their business. This growing global movement of over 1,400 member companies in 45 countries donate one percent of annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide. To learn more go to: www.onepercentfortheplanet.org.

About eTool

eTool is a world leading life cycle software company that optimises building design for lower environmental impact and greater performance. Utilising their unique software eTool LCA®, they work with architects, engineers and developers to measure and improve the life cycle impacts of buildings, surpassing industry standards. From residential and commercial to development and infrastructure, eTool LCA® makes sustainable development easy to achieve and cost effective for all size projects.

 

Media Contact
Siobhan McGurrin
Marketing & Communications Manager
+61 (0) 8 6364 3805
Siobhan@etool.net.au

Passing LCA onto the next generation

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with universities across Australia to incorporate LCA building design philosophy into their architecture and engineering courses. Compared to just five years ago when LCA for the built environment would have constituted an entire PhD, now classes as big as 60 undergraduate students are completing eTool LCAs on their designs in just 2 weeks and getting great low carbon results!

“I taught eTool LCA to third year Arhictecture students at UniSA this semester for the first time. I found they picked it up easily and were able to perform a comprehensive LCA on a building and then use eTool LCA to substantially reduce the embodied and operational carbon footprint. I will certainly be using eTool LCA in future courses.” 

Brett Aylen, Director TS4 Architecture and Lecturer at UniSA

In 2012, four universities taught eTool LCA in a range of courses with over 200 students across Australia and Southeast Asia actively using the software.

Another institute we’ve been working with for a while is Murdoch University which teaches an ‘Energy Efficient Buildings’ unit to undergraduates and postgraduates. It examines different approaches to reducing energy consumption in residential and commercial buildings resulting from the design and use of the building and its energy services.

Lecturer Dr.Tania Urmee has been teaching the course for a number of years and encourages her students to use new technology and software to evaluate, modify and design energy efficient buildings more effectively. Students in both Australia and Malaysia are introduced to the principles of solar passive design, and taught to use ECOTECT and eTool LCA as practical solutions for reducing energy use through renovation and retrofitting as well as occupant behaviour.

 

Josh’s House Episode One

Introducing Josh’s House, a project and video series following the design and construction of two 10 star energy efficient family homes in the Fremantle suburb of Hilton, Western Australia with Josh Byrne environmental scientist & presenter on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, his young family and sister in law.
This first episode explains the plan and what work has been done up to this point as well as introducing Josh and his family. It’s going to be a comprehensive and exciting project and you are all invited along for the ride with plenty of info, thoughts and ideas being made available to you via Josh’s House website, facebook, twitter and video. We encourage you to be a part of it!

Joshs House Front

Josh Byrne’s Sustainable Housing Project Gets Underway!

After 20 years renovating other people’s houses and gardens to demonstrate his sustainable design ideas, Josh Byrne (Environmental Scientist & presenter on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia) is undertaking his most ambitious house project yet – the design and construction of two 10 Star energy efficient family homes in the Fremantle suburb of Hilton.

The homes will be thermally comfortable year round, without the need for air conditioning or additional heating. They will generate more electricity than they use and will harvest and recycle water. In addition to private garden areas, a common productive garden will supply both houses with fresh food.

What sets this project apart from many others is that the building designs have achieved a 10 Star energy efficiency rating*, whilst intentionally using conventional building materials and construction methods so that they can easily be replicated by industry and the wider community. “The project also demonstrates a more sensitive approach to residential subdivision that has considered maximising effective garden area around the homes to allow for natural shading, children’s play spaces and local food production – important health and lifestyle benefits that are rapidly disappearing from our suburbs”, says Josh Byrne.

ABOUT THE HOUSES
Josh describes the homes as “a new take on the classic Hilton brick and weatherboard look”, with a mix of modern rendered finishes, old style weatherboards and heritage red brickwork in high impact areas. The sympathetic roof lines, combined with the generous building setback of the front house will fit comfortably with the 1950’s feel of the suburb.

The floor plans are typical of many family homes – three bedrooms, two bathrooms, with an open planned kitchen, dining and living room area, plus an activities room, but there are a few subtle points of difference. Firstly the orientation of the houses, window location and internal layout has been done on the basis of maximizing the solar passive performance.

Consideration has been given to universal access, by keeping to one level, opting for slightly wider doorways (870mm) with flush thresholds to all external doors, and hobless showers.

The external walls of the homes are a conscious combination of double brick, reverse veneer brickwork and lightweight timber framing. All external walls are insulated with a combination of bulk insulation and closed cell foil insulation. Low-e type glazing has been used throughout to regulate heat flow, with only one window on each dwelling (the kitchen) requiring double glazing to achieve the 10 Star NatHERS rating. The roof is conventional timber construction using light coloured reflective roof sheeting with insulated foil underneath. The ceiling will be lined with bulk insulation to achieve an R4.0
insulation value.

The northern living areas will feature a decorative concrete slab finish to soak up and store the heat from the winter sunlight
and to help stabilize internal temperature during summer. Internal walls will generally be plastered single leaf brickwork with some double brick walls used to add additional thermal mass to the main living areas, as well as sound insulation to selected rooms.

Lighting will be provided by a combination of LED down lights in the bedrooms and living areas (kitchen, dining living room and activity room), and compact fluorescent globes in occasional use areas (bathroom, laundry, toilet and hallway). Reversible ceiling fans will also be installed in the bedrooms and living areas to provide downward cooling in summer and upward circulation of warm air in winter.
Each house will have a 3kW grid connected photovoltaic system installed which will generate more power than required to run the homes, as well as gas boosted solar hot water systems. Solar tubes will help to ‘daylight’ internal areas such as walk-in robes to reduce the need for artificial lighting. High efficiency shower heads and tapware have been selected, and the low volume dual flush toilets have integrated hand basins which use tap water, which then fills up the cisterns.

The landscaping will also help address a number of pressing urban sustainability issues including improved household energy efficiency through appropriate shading, habitat provision with local native plantings, as well as local food production with an extensive shared vegetable garden, home orchard, poultry, composting and worm farm system.

Both houses will have direct diversion greywater systems to provide irrigation to selected areas, as well as rainwater tanks for internal usage, with mains water back up for dry periods. The productive garden will be watered from a shared bore and state of the art centrally controlled irrigation system, incorporating both soil moisture monitoring and weather monitoring to maximise water efficiency.

SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT
In addition to the 10 Star NatHERS rating achieved for both homes, the development has undergone further scrutiny to assess their environmental impact, sustainability & liveability credentials. Josh engaged two local emerging companies to assist with this process – eTool, who undertook a life cycle and carbon accounting assessment and ARCActive who assessed the project across a broad range of sustainability criteria including energy, water, materials and biodiversity amongst others.

Overall the project rated very well, with the homes expected to use less than 10% of the energy of a typical Australian new house, saving the occupants an average of $2,000 per year in energy costs. The house will emit less than 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions normally created by Australian dwellings and use around 40% of the scheme water of a typical Perth home, whilst still supporting a diverse and productive garden.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
People can follow Josh’s journey via a series of short online films which can be viewed on the project website. The building and landscape plans can be downloaded for free and factsheets on various aspects of the build will made available across the construction period. There will also be a research component to the project to assess the thermal performance, as well as energy and water efficiency of the homes and landscaping once they are completed and operational, with the intention of making the data available to industry and research institutions.

“This project is all about providing an inspiring and practical example of how to create beautiful and resource efficient homes that are accessible to the broader community” says Josh. “Key to the project’s success will be the industry partnerships that we will form and foster throughout the process to help share ideas and promote the outcomes.” 

There has already been significant interest from industry with a number of leading suppliers and industry association partnering with Josh and his team. “We’re thrilled to have Highbury Homes as our builder and to be working with Griff Morris from Solar Dwellings on the design – from concept to completion. The Water Corporation and the City of Fremantle have also got right behind us, as have a number of other organisations”.

Find out how the designs performed in their eTool LCA assessment or for more about the project and to sign up for the free Josh’s House eNewsletter visit: www.joshshouse.com.au

* Refers to the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) which is based on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest rating score. 6 stars is the minimum energy efficiency standard required under the Building Code of Australia.

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Australian innovators leading the green building revolution

Within the industry, interest in ESD measures such as Green Star, eco equivalency and beyond continues to grow as architects and engineers compete for evermore creative ways of combining contemporary architecture with sustainable technologies.

One such technology which finds itself at the forefront is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the key focus of a recent discussion paper released by the Green Building Council Australia. The development of LCA for the built environment, as in other manufacturing industries, means that carbon emissions can be easily identified and reduced, both in operating the building as well as during construction through the materials and assembly.

Although carbon accounting has been around for a while, the results are often less accurate, as they are based on input/output data which doesn’t take into account the performance or relative costs of individual buildings. The more advanced and comprehensive LCA technologies coming onto the market have taken carbon accounting much further and are now pushing the envelope for greater transparency in an industry which has so far been shielded from such scrutiny.

In a recent study published by The International Journal of Climate Change on ‘Measuring Carbon for Urban Development Planning’, a team of PhD students and lecturers at Curtin and Murdoch Universities in WA examined 34 global tools and established two Australian innovations as clear leaders in the field.

Led by long time sustainability expert and lecturer Peter Newman, the researchers found that the Aussie front runners offered exciting capabilities to measure infrastructure, development and remote community housing and were internationally the most well equipped options to help designers and planners get to grips with the carbon impacts of urban development. The use of tools such as eTool LCA in mainstream building design will no doubt help to reduce the built environment’s global emissions to well below their current 35% and offer consistent, replicable data to promote low carbon design as the norm.

The study concluded that rather than relying on guesswork and generalisations of true sustainability, these tools offer project specific information and hard data that can enable huge reductions in CO2 emissions and really develop the way we design and build.

Alex Bruce, one of the founding engineers of eTool believes that LCA will revolutionise green building, saying, “many ‘green building’ schemes are prescriptive, relying on less qualitative data and focusing too closely on specific building elements. LCA broadens boundaries instead by taking a whole of building approach and providing a quantitative and performance based method to inform design. By quantifying and comparing various design options we can improve the way we build and genuinely lower our environmental impact.”

With an estimated two in three people predicted to be living in urban environments by 2040, many in the industry are already looking for innovative technologies such as LCA to start the adaption process for a sustainable future. As the best tools on the world market are Australian based, we are certainly well equipped to keep the momentum going, outshine and outperform as sustainably as possible.

 

About eTool

eTool is a world leading life cycle software company that optimises building design for lower environmental impact and greater performance. Utilising their unique software eTool LCA®, they work with architects, engineers and developers to measure and improve the life cycle impacts of buildings, surpassing industry standards. From residential and commercial to development and infrastructure, eTool LCA® makes sustainable development easy to achieve and cost effective for all size projects.

 

Media Contact
Siobhan McGurrin
Marketing & Communications Manager
+61 (0) 8 6364 3805
Siobhan@etool.net.au