Impact Category Definitions

What are all these new impact categories eTool can now measure?  Below are some definitions:

Climate Change impacts result in a warming effect of the earth’s surface due to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, measured in mass of carbon dioxide equivalents.

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion is caused by the release of gaseous chemicals that react with and destroy stratospheric ozone. Although the Montreal treaty has significantly reduced the use of the most damaging substances and there is evidence that the abundance of ozone depleting gases is reducing in the atmosphere, some releases of ozone depleting chemicals still occur.

Acidification Potential provides a measure of the decrease in the pH-value of rainwater and fog, which has the effect of ecosystem damage due to, for example, nutrients being washed out of soils and increased solubility of metals into soils. Acidification potential is generally a regional impact and is measured in mass of sulphur dioxide equivalents. The mechanism dominating the acidification impacts is the combustion of fossil fuels, release of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide which dissolves with condensed water in the atmosphere and falls as rain. The term acid rain describes severe incidents of this mechanism.

In general terms, Eutrophication Potential provides a measure of nutrient enrichment in aquatic or terrestrial environments, which leads to ecosystem damage to those locations from over enrichment and is measured in mass of phosphate equivalents.

Tropospheric Ozone Formation Potential is the creation of lower atmospheric ozone (commonly known as smog) due to the mechanism of VOCs reacting with sunlight. In particular, the release of carbon monoxide from steel production is predominant; however other releases such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and methane also contribute significantly to POCP.

Mineral & Fossil Fuel Depletion (Abiotic Depletion) provides an indication of the potential depletion (or scarcity) of non-energetic natural resources (or elements) in the earth’s crust, such as iron ores, aluminium or precious metals, and it accounts for the ultimate geological reserves (not the economically feasible reserves) and the anticipated depletion rates. It is measured in mass of antimony equivalents.

Human Toxicity, in general terms, refers to the impact on humans, as a result of emissions of toxic substances to air, water and soil, and is expressed in terms of damage to human health by the index mDALY (1/1000th of a disability adjusted life year)

Land Use is measured in years of use of arable land (m2.year). This describes the area and time land is occupied by production systems both natural and industrial for the production of the building materials but not the occupation of the building itself. While not strictly an impact category it is linked to general land use pressure and is therefore a proxy for biodiversity and other land competition impacts.

Resource Depletion (Water) provides an indication of the total net input of water used throughout the life cycle of the building.

Ionising Radiation covers the impacts arising from the release of radioactive substances as well as direct exposure to radiation. The impact is expressed in terms of damage to human health by the index uDALY (1/1,000,000th) of a disability adjusted life year.

Ecotoxicity refers to effects of chemical outputs on nonhuman living organisms. Expressed in comparative toxic units (CTUe) it provides an estimate of the potentially affected fraction of species integrated over time and volume per unit mass of a chemical emitted.

Particulate Matter is defined as a mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances resulting from human activities and suspended in the atmosphere. Several studies show that PM causes serious adverse health effects, including reduced life expectancy, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, low birth weight, and premature birth. Precursors involved in PM formation include sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), and volatile and semivolatile organic compounds. Measured as either PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers) or PM10 (particulate matter between 2.5 to 10 micrometers). Finer particles can travel deeper into the lungs and are usually made up of materials that are more toxic therefore PM2.5 can have worse health effects than the coarser PM10.


Research Shows Sustainable Apartments are a Priority for Perth Community

Research conducted by Psaros in partnership with the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) and the Property Council has indicated that the Perth community rates sustainability, public transport and walkability as some of the top priorities concerning the future of the Perth inner suburbs.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said

“This ground-breaking research dispels some deeply-held myths that have been holding Perth back from becoming more sustainable, more affordable and more liveable.”

“Our capital city is shaking off its ‘dullsville’ image, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. In particular, the research shows that high quality eco-friendly developments around transport links are strongly supported by the majority of Perth residents.”

“While there can at times be vocal opposition to individual developments, there is much broader and stronger support for increased density than planners and Local Councils might think. This is great news for our environment. For every sustainable apartment that is built, less energy is used, less waste is created, less natural bushland is destroyed and more trips are taken by public transport.”

Below is a quick summary by Psaros of some of the findings of the report. You can read the full report here.




Undertaken by leading social research provider Ipsos between 4 – 17 June 2014. Respondents who live within 10km range of the Perth CBD were recruited in an online survey and focus group analysis. An even distribution of voters between 18 and 65+ with majority being single or two parent families with kids and older couples without kids. Final sample size n+524.

Main findings

There is very strong support for more medium & higher density apartment-style developments around transport hubs (71% support) and in inner areas (68% support).


The top three priorities for Perth’s future are;

•    an increase in public transport (train, light rail, buses) (95% support)
•    more eco-friendly buildings that generate their own power, collect rainwater and use less energy (89% support)
•    well-designed, safer bike paths to get to work and other places (86% support)

The most appropriate housing types for Perth city are:

•    a mix of mid-sized apartments, townhouses & retail / cafés (like Leederville and Northbridge) (79% support)

•    a mix of high-rise, town houses and parks (Like South Perth) (71% support)

Over half of residents (55%) would support increased building height limits to allow for higher density around transport links and 50% would support relaxing building height limits if developments are eco-friendly; .

The majority of respondents (73%) do not believe that the benefits of a separate house and garden outweigh the benefits of inner city living.

The majority of respondents (69%) do not consider low density living in detached single housing to be a more affordable option .

Perceived benefits of apartment living include:

•    easier to maintain (71% agree, 8% disagree)
•    reduce the need for land clearing (70% agree, 8% disagree)
•    lower environmental impact than detached housing (54% agree, 17% disagree)
•    save on energy costs (44% agree, 15% disagree)
•    save on car running costs (42% agree, 23% disagree)

3 in 5 inner city residents are likely to move house in the next 5 years; 73% would consider living in medium density housing and 50% in higher density housing.


2014 Was Our Most Excellent Year Yet – Thank You!

We’ve come a long way over the last four years, and the last twelve months have been particularly exciting. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients, partners, affiliates, supporters, friends and family – thank you!  We’d like to share with you some of our achievements over the last year and the exciting things we have planned for 2015.

Firstly and most importantly, we are ecstatic to announce that since the beginning of eTool, we have helped designers avoid over:

450,000 tonnes of CO2e!

That’s equivalent to planting 2,713,863 trees or taking 125,642 cars off the road! Our number one metric at eTool is reducing CO2 emissions, so we’re thrilled to see the number of CO2e saved increasing each and every month. 

As we continue to make eToolLCD the best of the best, we celebrate:

A few project & client achievements

    12     Green Star jobs completed and submitted with one achieving a 6-star rating and multiple achieving 5-star

     42     new clients such as Brookfield Multiplex, Mirvac, Lendlease & Broad, to name a few.

     9      HIA GreenSmart 2014 awards won by eTool clients

We’d like to especially congratulate long-standing eTool client Psaros, for their outstanding leadership in sustainability and their achievement of winning a 2014 Banksia Sustainability Award!

A few other (slightly quirky) eTool achievements by the numbers

      0     kilometers driven by cars to work by eTool employees (we opt for bicycles instead)

       1      CO2e saving plan developed to pump poo from Perth to farms (CSI talk TBC…)
       1      fantastic ‘Life Cycle Design Explained‘ video
    102    trees planted at the Bruce family farm by the team
     120    pages printed (hopefully after convincing more clients, 2015 will be 0!)

    171     attendees to eTool “saving the world” events (i.e. CSI talks & Great Debate)

     185    hours spent at the lunch table philosophising about how to save the world

2015: It’ll Be a Big One.

We’ve got some exciting things planned for the new year and we’re jumping out of our seats in anticipation. Here are just a few of our ambitions for the new year:

eToolLCD compliance with UK’s BREEAM IMPACT & DGNB (German Green Building Council) 
Watch this spacethis is huge. Delivering additional functionality that allows compliance with international green building rating systems is part of our continuing strategy of making eToolLCD the best and most globally accessible whole-building LCA software around.

Reaching the far corners of the world with LEED 
US-based LEED is used not only by the United States, but also in many other countries such as Brazil, Canada and India, just to name a few. Working on more LEED projects and showing consultants the power of eToolLCD means more carbon saved in even more parts of the world, something we always strive for.A zero-waste office
We want to make sure we walk the talk in the office in all areas, so starting 2015, the eTool office will become zero-waste. All employees will be responsible for disposing of their own waste with the intention of encouraging more mindful thought processes around product packaging and food waste. Wish us luck!

From all of us at eTool, we’d like to thank you for being a part of our journey. Stay tuned as more exciting things unfold in the coming months…Here’s to 2015!– Richard, Alex, Fei, Portia, Pat & Henrique