eTool LCA Software Updates – Autumn 2013

eTool LCA has been getting a bit of attention lately, and there’s some changes in the wind so we thought we would update everyone. An update on updates! Most of the recent changes have been updates to our libraries which are now getting pretty extensive.

New Electricity Grids

We’ve added a number of new electricity grids to our library to extend the reach of eTool LCA. The data was gained from public information which varied in quality, however where there was a discrepancy between reported direct emissions CO2 intensity, the fuel mix was updated to ensure consistency. Transmission and distribution losses are also accounted for for each individual grid, and upstream emissions associated with provision of fuels to power plants etc.

  • Ten new US grids including: Alaska, Florida, Hawai, Midwest RO, Mid East States, Northeast PCC, South East States, South West PP, Texas and Western ECC.  
  • Thirteen new European grids including: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Romania

At present in eTool software for life cycle cost calculations the electricity prices are linked to a grid, in development we are going to split this so that each grid can have a number of tariffs. We’ll also be introducing some functionality that enables a default grid to be selected at the project level to avoid the painful process of updating the grids after an operational energy template has been added.

New Water Grids

With the introduction of fresh water use as an indicator in eTool LCA, users now have the ability to calculate and compare the water footprints of their designs (embodied and operational). Further to this, the other impacts associated with water supply (take energy and CO2e to pump and treat water) are automatically calculated for users that add water use to the mix. The labelling of the “Demand” column in the operational energy section of eTool LCA is very clunky at the moment (the units state MJ or kL as we’ve got both energy use and water use in the same list) and we plan to separate this out into a new section on the design home page. In the meantime though, we’re excited about the ability to measure impacts associated with water supply and treatment and as of July 1st 2013 these impacts will be included in the standard eTool LCA scope. We’ve run some testing and there are some significant changes to the life cycle impact assessments results (particularly residential).

New Materials

Our LCA of One Brighton for BioRegional in the UK prompted a bit of an overhaul of our materials database, we’ve added a number of new material categories and individual materials (about 100 in total so too many to list). These new updates were a mix of generic LCA data (for example, much more granularity in blast furnace slag and fly ash concrete mixes) and EPD data. We’re happy to say that adding the EPD data was pretty straightforward and we’re now well and truly open for business for materials manufacturers who want to add materials to the eTool LCA database. Our stance on data quality at the moment is that as long ast he EPD has been registered with a reputable EPD program operator we will likely enter it into eTool software.  Longer term, once Europe releases the product category rules for the EcoEPD project, this is likely the methodology we will adopt. At that point we’ll give materials suppliers a 12 month grace period to update their data sets to match this standard.

Upcoming Changes:

As of 1st July 2013 we’ll be changing the way we account for a few things in eTool LCA. These changes are to ensure the decisions being driven by eTool LCA are robust. After all, it’s always been our goal that eTool LCA is used as early in the design phase as possible to make positive changes to designs, we don’t want it to be post mortem that just highlights lost opportunities!

The most significant changes will be the forward counting of electricity grid intensity figures. At present eTool LCA assumes the grids will maintain their current mix of fuels for the life of the buildings which is a very pessimistic forecast for the planet. Potentially in an LCA on buildings drawing from fossil fuel dominated electricity grids, this puts perhaps too much emphasis on reducing the use of electricity at the expense of increased gas use or additional embodied impacts. For this reason we’re going to account for depreciating fossil fuel.

Want to give eTool LCA a go? Register for your free account today!

One Planet Perth Event

One Planet Living Australia + The Green Economy Perth Event

BioRegional have been taking their award winning One Planet Living Principles on the road with projects popping up around the world in the US, UK and across Europe at breakneck speed. Now it’s Australia’s turn as Pooran Desai, BioRegional’s Co-Founder and International Director tours the major cities this June to share success stories and explain how the framework can be applied to new developments throughout Australia.

Pooran touched down on Monday and will be heading to Perth next week for a series of breakfast, afternoon and dinner events across the city. Alex has been invited to speak at the Evening Lecture on One Planet Living Australia and The Green Economy next Wednesday 5th June alongside West Australia’s key speakers on the subject of sustainability and the built environment.

Speakers include:

Pooran Desai is the International Director and Co-Founder of BioRegional, the social enterprise and sustainability charity behind the creation of Britain’s best-known sustainable community, Beddington Zero Emission Development (BedZED). He will share first hand knowledge around the design, construction and monitoring of BedZED, which led to the development of the concept of One Planet Living. In addition he will talk about his vision for a sustainable future based on the concept of Green Economy and the opportunities this presents.

Peter Newman is the Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University and Director of CUSP which has 60 PhD students working on all aspects of the green economy. Peter is on the Board of Infrastructure Australia that is funding infrastructure for the long term sustainability of Australian cities, and is a Lead Author for Transport on the IPCC. He is a Visiting Professor in the School of Architecture at the National University of Singapore. Peter also is on the Board of Infrastructure Australia that is funding infrastructure for the long term sustainability of Australian cities.

Alex Bruce (Co-Founder, eTool)  is a mechanical and sustainable energy engineer with over six years experience in the renewable energy and energy management sector. Alex has specifically focused on the built environment from residential to commercial applications. Since eTool was founded, Alex has worked with architects, developers and international engineers, educating, training and providing sustainable solutions to challenging technical engineering problems.

Mark Pitman (Principal, Cundall) is an experienced industry consultant as well as academic researcher. Mark’s presentation will give an overview of current trends in the ESD, sustainability and “green buildings”. It will cover rating tools and methodologies for benchmarking the environmental impact of a project in construction as well as operation and a comparison of these across the Australian market as well as developments internationally

To ensure your place for this *FREE* evening event at CUSP, visit BioRegional’s registration page here.


The Secret to Solar PV versus Solar Thermal

With so much sunshine in Australia, solar power is one of the most popular renewable energies for residential buildings. So our clients often ask us which system is the least carbon intensive and best for their budget – solar PV or solar thermal.

In this article and presentation Pat offers some key considerations to help you make a sound decision when choosing between the two technologies. Read more >>