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Join Us For World Green Building Week 2013

World Green Building Week is back for 2013 and we’ve got a jam packed week full of events to get you inspired, educated and talking about sustainable building around Australia.

Rather than just lectures and presentations, we’ve gone for a variety of events including a Green Star development presentation, international workshop, interactive debate, speed dating breakfast and documentary screening to suit professionals from all areas of the industry.

See any you want to attend?

  • Date
  • Monday 16th September
  • Tuesday 17th September
  • Wednesday 18th September
  • Thursday 19th September
  • Friday 20th September
  • Time
  • 12.30pm – 1.30pm 5.00pm – 6.00pm
  • 5.00pm – 6.30pm
  • 5.30pm – 7.00pm
  • 7.30am – 9.00am
  • 5.00pm – 6.30pm
  • Event
  • Exploring the New Green Star LCA Innovation Challenge
  • Green Buildings 2020: Capturing the Global Perspective
  • The Carbon Reduction Race – Residential v Commercial 
  • Sustainable Perth Speed Dating Breakfast
  • Sustainable City Documentary Screening


Exploring the New Green Star LCA Innovation Challenge 

As part of the Green Star 2014 program, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has announced the launch of two Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) based ‘Innovation Challenges’. Providing up to 8 points in the Green Star Innovation category, the challenges will encourage the industry to incorporate Whole of Building LCA (6 points) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) (2 points) into new and registered Green Star projects.

Want to know more about GBCA’s Green Star Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Innovation Challenges?

Then join eTool founders Alex Bruce and Richard Haynes to explore Whole of Building LCAs and Environmental Product Declarations and how to incorporate them into Green Star projects.

These sessions will cover the new LCA based Innovation Challenges and provide an explanation of all of the relevant components including Aims, Criteria, Compliance Requirements and Documentation.

Eventbrite - Exploring the new Green Star LCA Innovation Challenge

Green Buildings 2020: Capturing the Global Perspective

250 people, 16 offices, 10 countries, 1 event.

Cundall is bringing you 1 event to celebrate World Green Building Week from 16 offices in 10 countries. Just like Cundall, this event is on a global scale but with a friendly local feel and focus. Please join us for evening drinks to discuss the future of Green Buildings with people from Cyprus, Romania, Australia, Spain, Shanghai, Dubai, China, Singapore, Qatar and UK.

Register now on Eventbrite >>

The Carbon Reduction Race – Residential v Commercial

Throughout history, buildings have changed to address social needs. A dramatic example: the advent of the skyscraper a century ago, which exploited the new technology of steel framing to overcome the scarcity of real estate in teeming Australian cities. Suddenly real estate extended into a third dimension, enabling extraordinary growth in a contained footprint. 

Today’s building industry appears to be entering another era of change, with a view toward minimizing a different kind of footprint: the energy, carbon, and environmental footprint of commercial and residential buildings.

The industry’s aim is for ‘zero carbon’ buildings, but which buildings are at the forefront of leading the race towards this ever tightening goal?

Alex Bruce, Director of eTool, will present the case for the Residential sector and Oliver Grimaldi, Senior ESD Consultant at Cundall will present the case for the Commercial sector.

Eventbrite - The Carbon Reduction Race: Residential v Commercial

Sustainable Perth Speed Dating Breakfast

‘Speed date’ up to seven industry experts with extensive experience across life cycle and ESD engineering, residential and commercial architecture, urban design, marketing and selling sustainability, town planning and local government policy. 

Ask as many questions about green building, design and planning as you like, moving from one expert to another every 5 minutes. Meet, mingle and network with up to 60 industry professionals and share your experiences and knowledge about green building in Perth!

Breakfast buffet will be provided throughout the morning. 

Our Experts

Oliver Penman – Urban Designer | TPG WA

Sid Thoo – Residential Architect | Sid Thoo

James Thompson – Commercial Architect |  McDonald Jones Architects

Alex Bruce – Life Cycle Design Engineer | eTool

Oliver Grimaldi – ESD Consultant | Cundall

Anita Marriott  – Sustainability Officer | City of Vincent

Chiara Pacifici – Sustainable Marketing & Sales | Green Gurus

Eventbrite - Green Building Speed Dating Breakfast

Sustainable City Documentary Screening 

Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, transformed one of the most chaotic cities in the world into a shining model of urban planning. Peñalosa believed that cities should encourage walking and biking, which would in turn promote community and make the streets safer for children. Come along and watch how he made this remarkable transition happen in this documentary, Bogota: Building A Sustainable City.

Eventbrite - Sustainable City Documentary Screening


All events will be hosted at the eTool and Cundall collaborative office in Perth CBD apart from Monday’s two presentations which will also be available as a webinar for those outside Western Australia.

For the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday events, places are strictly limited, so please get drop us an email to register your interest and we’ll send you details on how to book.



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GBCA Introduces “Life Cycle Assessment”

As part of the “Green Star 2014” program of works the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has announced the launch of two Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) based “Innovation Challenges”. Providing up to 8 points in the Green Star Innovation category, the challenges will encourage the industry to incorporate Whole of Building  LCA (6 points) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) (2 points) into new and registered Green Star projects.

This is a fantastic development for the Green Building industry, the owners/occupants of the buildings and ultimately the environment. Whole of Building LCA provides a brilliant platform to understand the total ecological footprint of a building, facilitate ease of comparison against alternative designs and ultimately find ways to improve the final outcome of the project.

While forming the basis of the British and European standard for calculating environmental impacts of buildings (BS EN 15978:2011), LCA is now rapidly propagating into the industry as can be seen with its incorporation into BREEM, LEED, and now Green Star.

The integration of LCA within Green Star will provide an opportunity for organisations to get up to speed and ahead of the pack as LCA becomes mainstream.

Under the “Life Cycle Assessment: Material Lifecycle Impacts” “Innovation Challenge” a project will be potentially eligible for 6 points by conducting a Whole of Building LCA

  • 4 points for realising an improvement across four environmental impact categories in comparison to a theoretical benchmark building
  • 1 point for comparison against a real example building of similar function
  • 1 point for including an additional five impact categories in the analysis

For more details on these exciting “Innovation Challenges” please head to this link

With almost four years of delivering Whole of Building LCA’s and developing LCA software, eTool is well positioned to assist organisations looking to capitalise on this new “Innovation Challenge”.  Our proven, streamlined, accurate and cost effective process gets results and makes Whole of Building LCA easy.

eTool is able to provide “eTool LCA” software and training within your organisation, enabling you to either conduct your own LCA’s or our engineers can consult with your team to complete LCA’s on your behalf.

We anticipate that projects aiming for “five star”, and in some cases “four star” ratings, will find improvements in the required LCA environmental impacts readily achievable. This, combined with the simple and cost effective eTool LCA process, will enable access to up to 6 points in an economical fashion.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the technical details of the “Innovation Challenge” or would like to see how eTool can assist with your Green Star project.

eTool congratulates GBCA on this exciting development and looks forward to assisting in the process of making buildings better.


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eTool Houses Are Taking Over Sustainable House Day 2013

Sustainable House Day is a national program which invites people to open up their homes to the public and show everyone how easy and fun it is to live in a sustainable home!
This year the number of eTool houses involved in the event has grown with four new projects completing construction since last year’s open house.

All of our clients involved have tons of information on their websites for you to check out before hand and see what design features you want to find out more about.

If you’re in Western Australia, you can visit Josh’s House (we’ll be there with an eTool stall) and The Green Swing in Perth and Footprint Free on Fitzgerald in Geraldton.

Josh's House

Josh’s House – Hilton, Fremantle

Josh’s House is two three bedroom, two bathroom family homes on a divided block in 50s style suburb in Fremantle. The homes aim to generate more electricity than they use through solar power, be thermally comfortable year round without the need for air conditioning or additional heating and harvest and recycle water. The community feel of the entrance with a planted verge, tree log seats and firepit is a great addition to the neighbourhood. The perfect place to visit if you’re interested in in landscaping and gardening too. We’ll also be in attendance at Josh’s House as it will be the project’s official public launch with self guided tours, presentations and a chance to speak to the experts.


Green Swing

The Green Swing – Victoria Park, Perth

The Green Swing project is a two house, two apartment development, 2 minute walk from Victoria Park train station. The three buildings are all different – one is straw bale, another reverse brick veneer and the third is double brick. The space has a strong community feel with a pedestrian only entrance, veg patches and a community garden next door which the families revegitated from a sump. A great place to visit if you’re interested in different types of builds, learning about the carbon and transport impacts of finishes such as flooring and windows and to also meet the wonderful families who can answer any and all questions!


Footprint Free

Footprint Free On Fitzgerald – Beachlands, Geraldton

Footprint Free on Fitzgerald is the first display home in a new 5 home development in Beachlands. It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom which utilising local, sustainable materials and the abundance of sunshine in WA. It has a large 5kW solar PV system and energy monitoring throughout so people can understand where the most energy is being used or saved. One of the project developers Mark will soon be moving into the house to show everyone in Geraldton how easy it is to go zero carbon. Ideal for people looking to buy or renovate zero carbon as Mark and his team will be on hand to answer practical design and build queries!


Wiley Place

Wiley Place – Leederville, Perth

One of our very first projects, Alex’s home Wiley Place is opening up its doors for a second year and will be showcasing some new features, finishes and wood pellet heating system. The 1980s 2 bedroom townhouse was renovated a few years ago to incorporate solar PV, heat pump hot water, additional insulation, ceiling fans and energy monitoring. Alex and Chiara will be giving 10 minutes tours of the house and all the sustainable features while Alex’s Dad Neville fires up the wood pellet BBQ for a charity sausage sizzle. Ideal for homeowner looking to renovate low carbon and in need of sustainable home inspiration!


If you’re in South Australia, head over to the newly completed Zero Carbon Challenge winner at Lochiel Park Green Village in Adelaide.


Zero Carbon Challenge Winner – Lochiel Park, Adelaide

Lot 61 at Lochiel Park is the Zero Carbon Challenge and People’s Choice winner designed by TS4 Living. It is a zero carbon 3 bedroom modern home which utilises renewables including solar PV with gas boost and bio-fuel heating system. Built in just 16 weeks for an average build price of $335,000, this will be the first public launch of the newly finished home which was completed just 2 weeks ago! Perfect for homeowners interested in sustainable energy technologies, modern green architecture and those looking to design their own sustainable home!


Find more sustainable homes in your local area through the Sustainable House Day website and get down to your chosen homes nice and early as it usually gets pretty crazy!

We hope you are inspired by these homes and the amazing people behind them as much as we are. Keep up the great work and spread the word!



Saving The Planet Is Good Business

Australian software start-up challenges ‘business as usual’ practices by investing in the planet’s future and pledging one per cent of their annual revenue to environmental groups.

In December 2012, Life Cycle Software company eTool announced their commitment to donate 1% of their annual revenue to environmental organisations in Australia, coupled with a pledge to reduce the carbon impact of their client’s building projects by 150,000 tCO2e, all in the name of good business.

“We started eTool ultimately to do our bit to help the planet. It might seem strange for a start-up to give away one per cent of their revenue in its first few years, but for us, it’s about ensuring we’re making a difference with every aspect of our business,” says Richard Haynes eTool Co-Founder and Head of Software Development.

Since making the pledge, eTool have worked on 61 building projects and exceeded their carbon reduction target by over 10,000 tCO2e, totalling a huge 163,549tCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions that will be prevented over the buildings lifespans. Improving building designs for large scale residential developments and commercial buildings produced carbon savings equal to taking 45,430 cars off the road for a year or planting almost one million trees!

“At the same time as committing to one per cent for the planet, we made a team commitment to really push the boundaries with our clients and make sure all the projects we work on are as low impact as possible. We’re stoked to have smashed our target and are aiming even higher for 2013,“ says Haynes.

With sustainable buildings already inhand, eTool are broadening their scope and donating to causes Surfrider Australia and The Orangutan Project that work to protect our beaches, oceans, forests and endangered animals.

We are really excited to team up with such an innovative start-up as eTool. Our oceans are the life force of our planet and eTool’s support will go a long way in protecting our waves and beaches both locally and nationally. Our Perth Chapter is stoked that we have such a forward-thinking local company to partner with,” says Sarah Yani Vann-Sander, Perth Chapter President Surfrider Australia.

“The support from eTool coming on board as a Business Partner with The Orangutan Project will help us continue our work to save the orangutan species from extinction in Borneo and Sumatra. The Orangutan Project is the world’s foremost not-for-profit organisation and provides technical and financial assistance directly to orangutan conservation projects including rescue and rehabilitation centres, as well as habitat protection to deter wildlife poaching, illegal logging and land clearing in Indonesia. If more Australian organisations such as eTool supported these crucial environmental programs we would be able to protect vital remaining rainforest and carbon stores and save the Critically Endangered species that live within them,” says Brianna Vidal, Marketing Manager The Orangutan Project.

Over the last ten years Yvon Chouinard’s 1% for the Planet movement has grown rapidly in Europe and the US, but Asia-Pacific has been slow to get on board. Australia for instance, represents just 2% of 1FTP’s business members, positioning eTool within the top tier of ethical Australian business owners who are revolutionising ‘business as usual’ objectives.

“Telling people that we’re part of 1% for the Planet is a real conversation starter and quickly demonstrates to potential clients what we stand for as a business and as a team. We like to get clients involved in the charity selection process, giving them even more incentive to do their bit and build with minimal impact on the planet,” says Alex Bruce eTool Co-Founder and Head of Business Development.


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

Brown Paper Background

eTool Residential Benchmark For Australia

Before getting into the nitty gritty, it’s important to understand the purpose of the eTool benchmarks, which is:

  • Establish a common measuring stick against which all projects are assessed so that any report is comparable to another (for the same type of project).
  • Create a starting point, or “average, business as usual case” from which to measure improvements.

The benchmarks are not an average of existing stock but rather an average of new stock. Hence any efficiency requirements etc in the Building Codes etc are taken into account. When comparing to the benchmark, the target is pretty simple. Effectively Australia has to drop it’s GHG emissions by about 90-95% on a per capita basis for us to become sustainable global citizens. With this in mind, what we should be trying to do is drop our building’s emissions by 95% against the benchmark to ensure the building is stabilising the climate.

Creating the business as usual benchmark is pretty complex. For residential buildings in Australia there is a broad density mix from detached through to apartments. This is the latest breakdown of the new dwellings density mix in Australia (from ABS) over the last two years:

DetachedSemi DetachedLow Rise ApartmentsHigh Rise Apartments
Proportion of New Dwellings61%13%7%19%

For each of these density types, eTool have formulated a BCA code compliant building. We have then created a nominal statistical mix of  floor areas to match the average new dwelling size in Australia (214m2). In this way we come up with a “dwelling” that is a mix of densities and matches the size of the average Australian dwelling.

A similar approach is taken for operational energy. In this case we first research the most up to date residential energy estimates for Australia.  This data comes from ABARE Energy in Australia 2012. It gives us guidance on the total energy used per household (existing housing stock) in Australia and also the fuel mix split (electricity, gas, wood etc). We then use other end use percentage estimates to determine where this energy is being used in the dwellings.  The most commonly quoted breakdown of household energy use in Australia is from the “Your Home Technical Manual” which is actually a reference to the “Energy Use in the Australian Residential Sector, 2008”.  This report is commonly referred to as the “Base line report”.  This report itself actually states:

The study identified a paucity of end-use data for residential energy use in Australia, particularly in regional areas. Some of the appliance energy consumption estimates used in this study rely on research that is 15 years old or, alternatively, on work undertaken in New Zealand. 

The study recommends an comprehensive end use energy monitoring program which we believe is being undertaken. Until the results are out we’re a feeling our way in the dark a little.  Not withstanding this, the study is useful to guide the decisions about where we’re using our energy. To verify the Base Line Report figures we also took some state government studies (eg Sustainable Energy Development Office in WA) and statistics from other countries (notably the BRANZ HEET study and also stats from the US). The largest unexplained discrepancy seems to be in the estimates for heating demand.

The Base Line Report suggests that 38% of total end use energy in Australia homes is dedicated to heating and cooling purposes.  This seems very high given the following facts:

  • The comprehensive HEET study from BRANZ in New Zealand (a much colder climate, and one dominated by heating requirements) only calculated 34% of end use energy dedicated to thermal performance.
  • The WA SEDO estimate for thermal comfort energy demand is also much less, hence it’s hard to believe the additional demand is due to cooling.
  • A large percentage of Australia’s population (Perth, Sydney and Brisbane) all live in quite mild or warm climates where heating would not make up more than 50% of the thermal control energy demand (and less still of the actual end use energy demand)
  • Heating is the most end use energy intensive thermal comfort mode as cooling typically utilises either apparent cooling methods (evaporative or fans) or heat pumps, both of which have effective Coefficient’s of Performance of 2.5 or more. This means for every one unit of energy input, 2.5 units (or more) of heat is dissipated of pumped from the dwelling when cooling. Heating on the other hand requires more energy than the actual heat load demand theoretically required to heat a space (or at least the same amount). This is mainly due to flue losses.

The high estimate in the Base Line Report may be linked back to the ABARE Energy stats which are also questionable. The Energy in Australia 2012 document from ABARE gives a biomass figure for residential energy use that equates to 6280MJ / household /annum.  When this is calculated in terms of mass of wood, it works out at 400kg of timber per household in Australia.  Even if one in every 5 houses (studies suggest it’s more like one in every 10) is using a wood heater that was their primary source of heat, that’s 2t of wood per annum they would need to be burning in order for the ABARE data to reconcile. To give you an idea, an average small box trailer full of wood is about 250kg. We’re not convinced there’s 2 million households in Australia receiving 8 trailers of wood per annum to heat their homes. The BRANZ HEET study further supports the proposition that ABARE have overestimated biomass consumption in the Australian residential sector.  BRANZ calculated that each wood heater uses 4,500kWh (one tonne) of wood per annum.

Without making any adjustments to either the end use demand figures, or the top down supply figures the numbers don’t reconcile very well. For example, trying to “fit” the biomass, gas and LPG energy into the end use break down “squeezes” electricity out of the hot water and space heating categories. There simply isn’t enough low grade heat requirements in dwellings to account for all the biomass. However, when we aligned the biomass use predictions with BRANZ, and adjusted the demand figures to better match some of the competing studies we got good reconciliation.

This also supports the total residential demand estimate in the Base Line Report which is quite a bit lower than the ABARE stats.

Once we knew the amount of energy the existing housing stock were using, we then determine how this would differ in new dwellings.  Some energy use would remain pretty static (eg appliance use and refrigeration). Lighting, hot water and heating and cooling have relatively new BCA code requirements focussed on energy efficiency. For these end categories appropriate adjustments were made to account for the newer technologies and associated demand.

Heating and Cooling (Thermal Control)

The heating and cooling energy requirements are the most complex, as there are very few stats on what equipment is being deployed in new houses. The NatHERS system does help this situation and we make an estimate of the deployment of heating and cooling technologies in the current housing stock as follows:

  1. Estimate the heating verse cooling loads for buildings in the top 20 populous NatHERs climate zones (85% of Australia’s population). This works out to be 60% heating and 40% cooling.  
  2. Estimate the efficiency of each type of heating and cooling technology
  3. Estimate the deployment of each type of heating and cooling technology
  4. Adjust estimates such that total energy consumption matches our adjusted ABARE figures and the split in thermal demand matches the NatHERs weighted average for Australia

This then informs our decisions about what people are likely to choose for new houses.  The summary is found in the following tables:

Electric Heat PumpElectric Fans or Evaporative Coolers
Existing Stock Cooling Demand50%50%
New Housing Stock Cooling Demand60%40%

Electric Heat PumpElectric RadiatorsGas FluedGas Internal HeaterWood Heaters
Existing Stock Heating Demand20%10%17%51%2%
New Housing Stock Heating Demand35%0%20%40%5%

For each major BCA climate zone or population centre then simply divide the NatHERs energy demand estimates for a 6 star dwelling for the building between these categories and apply appropriate efficiency or COP figures to determine what the end use energy demand will be.

Hot Water

The building codes have now banned the use of electric resistance storage hot water systems in all residential buildings apart from class 2 building (strata buildings). Some state governments also discourage the use of electric heaters in class 2 buildings. This has led to a huge shift from electric storage hot water heaters to gas, solar, and heat pump units. This is a great thing for reducing the carbon intensity of the delivered hot water to dwellings (see more explanation on hot water fuel types here).

Using the same reconciling procedure between the end use energy estimates and the adjusted ABARE data we get the following mix of fuel uses for meeting demand in Australian existing housing stock:

Fuel Contribution to Water Heating Demand of Existing StockFuel Contribution to Assumed Water Heating Demand of New Stock
Natural Gas and LPG77%79%

Note, this doesn’t imply that 77% of water heaters are gas fired, it implies that 77% of energy used by water heaters is gas. The difference is that gas water heaters have lower efficiencies than electric resistance heaters (99%) or heat pumps (approximately 270%). With a gas water heater, depending on the age of the heater, it may be as low as 50%, and won’t get much better than 85%. So the mix of heaters installed in existing buildings is actually more slanted towards electric.

New buildings will tend more towards gas due to the current BCA requirements. With this in mind, we’ve used the figures in the right hand column for the split in fuel use for new dwellings.