Portfolio Environmental Management

With the built environment responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions, decarbonising real estate assets must be a key priority for investors and corporate occupiers.

The commercial real estate industry has accelerated its focus on responsibility and social purpose. Occupiers, investors and city leaders each have a role to play in meeting demand for greener, more sustainable spaces, and how it can no longer be seen as “just another expense”, instead essential to achieve better sustainability outcomes.

We have seen governments facing pressure to pledge ambitious net zero targets, but meeting these targets depends on more than government pledges, with businesses and investors having a vital role to play. Reports have shown that when businesses consider the environmental impact of their investments, they subsequently yield greater value in the future – both from a financial and environmental point of view. As a result, we are seeing more organisations making zero carbon commitments and restructuring their business model and operations to hit their reduction targets.

eTool Business Develoment Manager Maryia Perthen explains that “Clients in the real estate market have benefited from the extensive information that can be extracted from eToolLCD and used in Sustainability reports and Carbon Management Programs. Goodman Group is a great example and they have recently started using the software”.

In the real estate market in particular, the use of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) will enable investors to quantify, compare and improve the environmental performance of their assets, and more broadly, the use of LCA will assist in showing how real estate assets that have the highest level of sustainable performance, can drive higher rental incomes and increase client satisfaction. 

Portfolio Wide Reporting

Investors and corporate occupiers who are required to report their portfolio emissions, can utilise the robust LCA data available in eToolLCD via our reporting functionality. 

The reporting structure uses a Life-Cycle approach instead of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard (Scope 1, 2 and 3), and includes all assessment and reporting in relation to BS EN15978 life cycle stages (Product, Construction, Use, End of Life, Beyond project life cycle) to ensure the whole asset life cycle emissions are included in scope. . 

eToolLCD Portfolio Wide Reporting allows the client to calculate and report Whole Life emissions applied to major developments, refurbishments, deconstruction of an asset and in-use developments. Software users can utilise the organisation dashboard, where GHG emission and reduction from all projects can be quantified. Software users can create projects and collaborate with the internal design team and external specialists in one centralised portal in eToolLCD.

Utilise LCA across the value chain

The use of Life Cycle Analysis is not limited to new build projects only. By utilising the power of eToolLCD, investors can quantify the environmental impacts of any construction project or existing real estate portfolio. Examples include:

  • Modeling Existing Buildings for Adaptive-Reuse in eToolLCD
  • Foot Printing “As Built” or Existing Building
  • Retrofit or Refurbishment of Existing Building
  • New Building that Retains Parts of Existing Building

New Build and Refurbishment Projects

No matter the size of the project, eToolLCD can be utilised throughout all the relevant project stages, allowing the users to model effective component and building level LCA assessments at any project phase.

eToolLCD has benchmark models that can be used at concept stage when only typology and rough floor area is defined. As the design progresses, eToolLCD’s unique template system can be utilised to provide industry average specification and quantities of construction components (piling system, floor slab, structural elements, walls, finishes, services, etc) as well as operational energy and operational water figures. 

Our ever growing library contains 1000’s of templates applicable to all kinds of building and infrastructure projects being built across the globe. Users have the ability to customise construction components and also combine templates to create whole project benchmarks

Standing Assets

eToolLCD can fully support investor and corporate occupiers requirements with regards to Standing Assets, and will enable Facilities Managers to record actual in-use emissions on an annual basis. This will allow the client to better understand the carbon impacts of maintenance, repair and replacement cycles, and to improve this going forward.

eToolLCD can also be utilised to coordinate the expected replacement cycles of key elements (e.g. central plant) and ensure that purchasing can be done with the optimum carbon and financial efficiency on a portfolio wide basis.

Life Cycle Costing

LCA and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) Integration. It is unavoidable that where there is carbon, there is going to be a cost associated. However it is not always clear to the investor or client, that by reducing the environmental impacts, can also improve the bottom line. 

One of the most powerful parts of eToolLCD’s unique template structure is the inclusion of data on all people and equipment impacts as well as materials that make up a construction component. Templates include maintenance as well as replacement costs over the project life cycle, allowing users to conduct Life Cycle Costing integrated with environmental performance. More info on eToolLCD advanced features.

Supporting Green Rating Schemes and Regulatory Requirements

As LCA of the built environment rapidly propagates as a standard component of sustainable design, most rating schemes (buildings and infrastructure) around the world have begun to or/and have already integrated LCA into their credits and framework. eToolLCD meets the requirements of many international schemes and has been successfully utilised to improve the rating performance for many projects all over the world. 

LCA studies conducted for Rating System purpose (frequently with a limited scope covered) can be integrated with LCA studies conducted for Corporate Reporting or Regulatory purpose and ensure the alignment between different use and application of sustainability credentials and LCA results. One example is the increased use of eToolLCD to meet the London Plan – Whole Life Carbon Assessment requirements. eToolLCD is approved by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and is aligned with the RICS guidance to ensure consistency in the lifecycle carbon results. 

eToolLCD Certification Service (Third Party Review)

Ever since the early days of eTool back in 2012 we highlighted one of the risks to widespread LCA adoption is the varying levels of quality in building LCA models and subsequent loss in confidence of the results and conclusions drawn.

To mitigate this, as well as our free of charge eToolLCD training, eTool have also ingrained a formal certification process provided with any paid for eToolLCD Subscription and associated project access fee. ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards for LCA call for all studies to be verified by a third party, therefore it made sense for eTool to offer this certification service, as we understand the inner workings of the software which is important for LCA verification. This approach allows eTool to carefully manage the user experience enhancing the users LCA writing skills by assessing users ‘inputs, whilst ensuring quality and comparability.

During the certification process, a senior eTool LCD practitioner is made available to your project for the purposes of:

  • Assisting the LCA team with completing the study in compliance with relevant standards and rating systems (we have now completed over 400 projects for BREEAM, LEED and Green Star so will ensure the model is completed to the correct requirements and no hold ups occur during the LCA credit  verification).
  • Providing credit for “3rd party verification” under BREEAM 2018.
  • Reducing the risk to your clients and elevating the professionalism of your service by peer-reviewing your LCA study to ISO 14040 and ISO14044 standards.
  • Assisting the LCA team with challenging concepts or modelling requirements.
  • Improving the LCA teams efficiency in completing LCA/LCCs using eToolLCD.
  • Providing the LCA team with potential strategies that may be worth considering to reduce the impact of the design.

The certifier will be “suitably qualified” to undertake peer reviews having as a minimum:

  • Completed at least 3 paid for LCAs within the last 2 years
  • eToolLCD advanced training course
  • Experience or qualifications in interpreting construction documentation

The certification system ensures that consistent, high-quality LCA studies are produced from the eToolLCD software. This lends further credibility to your work when clients see the eTool brand on your reports. Outcomes after initial certification requests and interaction with a senior eTool LCD practitioner during third party review has seen a considerable difference in tCO2e saved.

For practiced users of eToolLCD, our certification system offers the benefit of a dedicated support section to complement existing experience. Utilising our certification system, users will benefit from a very quick third party review and subsequent certification, due to the level of quality input data.  

The certification is provided for up to 6 designs within an eToolLCD Building or Infrastructure entity. These designs may be very early stage models, or later stage complete LCA/LCC models or a combination, typically:

  • Concept Design Stage Base Model
  • Concept Design Stage Improved Model(s) (including optioneering)
  • Concept Design Stage Final Model
  • Technical Design Stage Base Model
  • Technical Design Stage Improved Model(s) (including optioneering)
  • Technical Design Stage Final Model

eTool understands that good LCA/LCC modelling is an iterative process and will be on-hand from the outset to provide assistance and answer any questions surrounding the modelling and certification.

Certification Process:

  1. eToolLCD user conducts self review and submits initial model for review
  2. eTool staff complete quality checks on eToolLCD model and provides feedback
  3. eToolLCD user complete / update eToolLCD model
  4. eToolLCD user submit final model for certification
  5. eTool staff completes certification and issue Certifier Review Statement

BREEAM Third Party Verification

In addition to ISO14040 and ISO 14044 quality checks the certifier will also review the following for both baseline models and optioneering models, in line with BREEAM 2018 requirements:

  • Material quantities are within +-10% of those shown in design documentation (both concept and technical design stage models)
  • Where default figures for product service life, transport distance and construction waste have been adapted from generic material default values, there is adequate justification and references.
  • Adhesives are included if cover more than 20% of materials surface
  •  Study period of 60 years

The deliverables are as follows:

  •  eToolLCD Certifier Review Statement documenting checks made, comments and user responses using the certification checklist
  • Phone/email and web link support throughout the process.

Additional information can be found at the Subscription, Project Licenses and Project Certification sections of eToolLCD Software Use Terms and Conditions and eTool Services Specification.

Additional information regarding eToolLCD Project Access Fees can be found here.

* Effective modelling and certification is a result of the eToolLCD software being utilised as it has been designed/intended to be used. The certification service helps ensure that eToolLCD software is appropriately used by ensuring a high quality of user inputs. Studies are conducted by the author (not eTool), and if deviated away from standard processes, are exposed to the risk of errors in the model and authors adding information without notifying the reviewer. In these circumstances the reviewer will flag any concerns in the certifier review statement, but can not be held liable for inaccurate reports.
** It should be noted that as the review has not been conducted by a panel of experts, publication of the comparative results of the LCA would breach ISO 14044 and EN15978 unless the relevant sections of the standards were addressed, in particular requiring a panel review team for comparative studies. 
*** Users who wish to make eToolLCD results public, will also be required to provide a Third Party Verified LCA compliant report.

Warehouse benchmark – LEED certified projects

eTool has developed a warehouse benchmark study in collaboration with CTE, a Brazilian Engineering and Consultancy firm, following the growing demand for Life Cycle Design services in LEED certified projects. 

The objective of this study is to share benchmarking results, deep dive on project hot spot areas, identify the best improvement strategies and assist design teams to set impact reduction targets at concept stage. 

LEED is helping drive the use of Life Cycle Assessment in construction and this study encompasses the final design of seven warehouses in Brazil that were assessed according to the Building Life Cycle Impact Reduction credit (MRc1 – Option 4 – Whole Building LCA).

The size of these projects vary between 62,818 m2 and 6,128 m2. Functional equivalence comparison also considered an average height of 13.6m.

The LCA credit is focused on project´s core, structure and enclosure materials impacts and the reduced scope includes the following life cycle modules:

  • A1-A3 – Product Stage
  • A4 – Transport
  • B1-B5 – Use, Maintenance, Replacement
  • C1-C4 – End of Life

eToolLCD software was used to conduct the study using Life Cycle Strategies North American v17 Life Cycle Inventory, compliant with EN15804 and ISO14044. The impact assessment method is CML – IA baseline V4.5. Service life is 60 years.

The construction scope covers the complete building envelope and structural elements, including footings and foundations, structural floors, columns, beams, structural wall assembly (from cladding to interior finishes), external doors, glazing, and roof assemblies. Estimated demolition impacts are also included. 

LEED certified warehouse (Brazil) – Carbon benchmark

Typical warehouse construction in Brazil uses reinforced concrete footing and piling, concrete slab, prefabricated concrete columns and beams, rendered concrete block walls, concrete panels or steel cladding, steel roof structure and insulated steel roof covering. 

The majority of the materials´impacts are associated with concrete and steel. The use of clinker replacement in cement is becoming more common and partial use of blast furnace slag was assumed in concrete mix for foundation and structural floors. Above average percentage of high recycled content in steel reinforcement was also considered as part of the benchmark model. These assumptions will help drive change in the segment as they become more common and are now considered typical practice for LEED certified projects.

LEED warehouse (27859 m2) – material inventory summary

 

LEED warehouse benchmark – EN15978 table (reduced scope)

Good structural design can significantly reduce embodied carbon, especially when different scenarios are tested at concept stage. Not only evaluating the impacts of materials but also the effect of different construction methods and technologies. eToolLCD users can quickly assess warehouse environmental impacts at concept design stage using whole warehouse template (component level) available in the software. Note this custom template is developed following LEED credit requirements and covers a limited scope. eTool encourages a whole of project analysis including all life cycle stages and full construction scope. This allows early stage analysis to help inform design teams test different scenarios and potential improvement strategies before progressing to detailed design stage.

For more information please contact us.

The new London Plan – How to meet its requirements

After its initial publication way back in 2017, and after many modifications, the new London Plan came into effect on 2nd March 2021.  One of the key directives is the use of Whole Life Carbon Assessments in an endeavour to meet net zero carbon commitments. In this article we look at what the new London Plan means for “Major Referable Projects” and how eToolLCD can be utilised in accordance with the new London Plan.

eToolLCD GLA Approved

Firstly, it is important to highlight that the GLA guidance requires that Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments should be carried out using a nationally recognised assessment methodology. eTool are proud to announce that eToolLCD is one of the tools approved by the GLA. Some of the key benefits to using eToolLCD for your Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments include:

  • Detailed support article on how to produce results and fill out the required submission template
  • SAP10 and Future decarbonisation grids already available in the software
  • All life cycle modules including module D
  • Biogenic carbon reported separately (EN15804 +A2 compliant)
  • Various end of life scenarios to choose from
  • All other software features listed in our subscriptions page

The London Plan – Overview

With an objective of becoming a net zero-carbon city by 2050, the London Plan is the statutory Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London and the 32 London boroughs, and is prepared by the Mayor of London in accordance with the Greater London Authority (GLA). All major projects are required to meet the net zero carbon target and must show an on-site reduction of at least 35 per cent beyond the baseline of Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Below references chapter 9 of the new London Plan, which covers Sustainable Infrastructure (SI). Policies SI 2 and SI 7 are the key policies with regards to the planning process for major developments.

Policy SI 2: Minimise Greenhouse gas emissions

Major development proposals should calculate and minimise carbon emissions from any other part of the development, including plant or equipment, that are not covered by Building Regulations, i.e. unregulated emissions.

Development proposals referable to the Mayor should calculate whole lifecycle carbon emissions through a nationally recognised Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessment and demonstrate actions taken to reduce life-cycle carbon emissions.

9.2.11 – Operational carbon emissions will make up a declining proportion of a development’s whole life-cycle carbon emissions as operational carbon targets become more stringent. To fully capture a development’s carbon impact, a whole life-cycle approach is needed to capture its unregulated emissions (i.e. those associated with cooking and small appliances), its embodied emissions (i.e. those associated with raw material extraction, manufacture and transport of building materials and construction) and emissions associated with maintenance, repair and replacement as well as dismantling, demolition and eventual material disposal). Whole life-cycle carbon emission assessments are therefore required for development proposals referable to the Mayor (more information on referable applications below).

Major non-referable development should calculate unregulated emissions and are encouraged to undertake whole life-cycle carbon assessments. The approach to whole life-cycle carbon emissions assessments, including when they should take place, what they should contain and how information should be reported, will be set out in guidance.

Policy SI 7:  Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy

Referable applications should promote circular economy outcomes and aim to be net zero-waste. A Circular Economy Statement should be submitted, for all major projects to demonstrate:

1) How all materials arising from demolition and remediation works will be re-used and/or recycled

2) How the proposal’s design and construction will reduce material demands and enable building materials, components and products to be disassembled and re-used at the end of their useful life

3) Opportunities for managing as much waste as possible on site

4) Adequate and easily accessible storage space and collection systems to support recycling and re-use

5) How much waste the proposal is expected to generate, and how and where the waste will be managed in accordance with the waste hierarchy

6) How performance will be monitored and reported

Referable applications

Under the requirements of the London Plan, any major developments that fall under a specific criterion require a referral to the Mayor of London. The criteria include schemes of 150 homes or more. They will also cover projects over 100,000 square metres in the City of London, 20,000 square metres in central boroughs or 15,000 square metres in outer boroughs.

Buildings that are over 25 metres in height within the Thames Policy Area, 150 metres in height elsewhere in the City of London and 30 metres in height elsewhere in London will also be referable.

When to submit a Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessment

Whole Life Carbon Assessments should cover the development’s carbon emissions over its life-time, accounting for both operational and embodied carbon and any future potential carbon emissions ‘benefits’, post ‘end of life’, including benefits from reuse and recycling of building structure and materials. (as mentioned in London Plan Policy SI 7 ‘Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy’).

The GLA guidance on Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments follows the European Standard for measuring building performance – EN 15978 and the also RICS Professional Statement: Whole Life Carbon assessment for the built environment. It is also prudent to mention that RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) have also adopted the RICS Professional Statement (more information can be found in this paper by RIBA).

Planning applicants are required to submit a WLC assessment at the following stages:

  • Pre-application 

General information about the project site and a questionnaire with details of the Whole Life-Cycle Reduction principles.

  • Stage 1 submission (i.e. RIBA Stage 2/3)

A baseline WLC assessment should cover the entirety of modules A, B, C and D to comply with Policy SI 2. With regards to grid decarbonisation , applicants should provide two sets of WLC emission figures. The first set of figures will be based on the current status of the electricity grid, and the second set of figures should be based on the expected decarbonisation of the electricity grid over the lifetime of the development. Details on material type, quantity and end of life scenarios are also required.

  • Post-construction (i.e. upon commencement of RIBA Stage 6 and prior to the building being handed over, if applicable) 

Update of the information provided at planning stage and actual WLC results using material quantities and site emissions during construction. Generally, it would be expected that the assessment would be received three months post-construction.

A Whole Life-Cycle Assessment draft guidance and draft template is currently under development which comprises all of the information applicants will need to submit at each stage. This template should be completed and submitted to the GLA to ensure clarity and transparency.

How eToolLCD can be utilised to conduct Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessment in accordance with the new London Plan

Pre-application stage

  • eToolLCD  provides users the ability to produce models at concept stage and provide early design advice (see this article on Target Setting)
  • eToolLCD benchmarks available in the software library to assist the design team during the concept stage.

Planning submission stage

  • WLC Assessment Reporting Template – At eTool, we have reviewed the WLC Assessment reporting template and have prepared an eToolLCD to GLA WLC Report Spreadsheet to help our users populate the results for Assessment 1 and Assessment 2 at the Outline Planning and Detailed Planning stages.
  • EN 15978 – eToolLCD is fully compliant with BS EN 15978 including all life cycle stages A, B, C and D.

  • RICS – eToolLCD allows consultants to adhere to the application of the RICS Whole of Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Form professional statement. The following link gives a detailed summary of the “Must” requirements from the standard and associated detail on eToolLCD’s compliance.
  • Grid Decarbonisation – eToolLCD users can now calculate the operational impact of their projects considering the future decarbonisation of electricity grids
  • Scenarios – The Scenarios feature allows branching of design improvements. It gives the user the ability to define the starting point for the scenario and explore different routes for project changes. For example, understanding the difference from using Blast Furnace Slag versus Fly Ash as cement replacement in concrete. The benefit of this feature is the flexibility to model design strategies in parallel from different starting points, instead of a linear sequential order where an improvement is fully dependent on all previous changes. As the design progresses, the model can be adjusted with the appropriate starting point scenarios and the subsequent strategies can be considered, instead of having to remodel all recommendations again from the baseline design.

  • Design features – Advanced features will allow you to quantify, compare and improve the performance of your projects from early design stage through to detailed development. The following link will explain in further detail some of the advanced features in eToolLCD such as Templates, EPD, Bulk Swap, Recommendations recording and Analysis.
  • Materials Inventory Summary Report – quickly extracts material type and quantity to help fill out the reporting template. 

Post-Construction stage

  •  eToolLCD Automated Reporting – Understand the modelling results at different stages of the life cycle design process through eToolLCD automated reporting functionality.

How eToolLCD can be utilised to support Policy Sl 7: Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy, in accordance with the new London Plan.

  • Materials Efficiency Metric – The eToolLCD Materials Efficiency Metric was created to calculate material circularity and apply it to a whole asset analysis. The metric is calculated based on the mass of material that is virgin or reused, and the amount of renewable and non-renewable primary and secondary material.

The draft “Whole of Life Cycle Carbon Assessment Guidance”, was formally consulted at the beginning of 2021. Responses are currently being analysed, with final guidance due to be published later this year. eTool will release further information regarding this topic and what it means for eToolLCD users as the final guidance is released.

eTool Webinar (Youtube)

 

References

https://etoolglobal.com/eblog/design/londonplanpolicy/
https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/the_london_plan_2021.pdf
https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wlc_guidance_consultation_version_oct_2020.pdf
http://content.tfl.gov.uk/referable-criteria-mayor-london-order.pdf

 

What is it like building a carbon negative home?

It all started with developers from Western Australia who had a vision to create the most sustainable residential community possible.

It took more than 10 years to acquire the land, finalise the design, receive all the required approvals to finally start the construction in March 2021.

The Witchcliffe Ecovillage offers its residents a sustainable lifestyle and the opportunity to be part of a community that is self-sufficient in water, solar energy, fresh food produce, as well as looking after their waste management.

  What is special about this village?

 

Let’s have a closer look and see what they did differently. A few features of the project that might interest an architect or a builder include:

  • Proof of carbon negativity.

Each house needs to demonstrate that its carbon emissions over 120 years won’t exceed a set specific target of a – 220kgCO2e / occupant / year. Basically, these homes are good for environment. 😊

  • Power from the sun.

Houses are carefully designed based on passive solar design principles. Each house needs to install at least 6kW of solar PV panels on the roof. Each cluster is connected to a microgrid and a centralised Tesla Powerpack battery. The connection to the external Western Power grid allows the Ecovillage to sell its excess power and provides power during construction.

  • Water from the rain.

All potable water in the Ecovillage comes from rainwater capture. Each home needs to install a rainwater tank. The water is processed and purified in a closed loop on the site.

  • Food from the garden.

The homeowners of the Ecovillage can use collected rainwater from the communal dam to water their gardens and orchards. It sounds like a dream to have an unlimited supply of fresh vegetables and fruit that everyone can harvest in the Ecovillage.

Image1. U-shaped residential cluster with community garden and open spaces

 

Why go beyond carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality is achieved when a building has zero annual emissions from energy use. This is not a hard task especially with solar passive principles and use of renewables.  Having an extensive solar system helps to neutralize some additional emissions.

The idea to go beyond carbon neutrality came from the need to also neutralise the embodied energy, or emissions caused by materials and their maintenance over the life of the building.

Using low carbon materials can have a positive effect on air quality and health, but also help the building to last longer.  After consulting with sustainability experts to understand which materials to use and which to avoid, it became clear that life cycle assessment (LCA) should be incorporated into the design and review process of each building.

Image2. A beautiful example of a strawbale home in Margaret River

Every parent’s dream is a child coming back home.

Looking at materials is important to make the picture holistic and to make sure the house you are building will last longer and can be passed on to future generations. For those who know LCA, it’s clear that carbon reduction will result in reduction of energy and water bills, cost of future repairs and maintenance, and will have the lowest long-term impact on nature.

It’s a simple equation:

Lower carbon = Lower cost.

 

How to measure carbon neutrality?

It may surprise many that most new homes could achieve 50-70% CO2 reduction without large investment. In fact, the City of Vincent in Western Australia requires all new houses to achieve at least 50% C02 reduction for design approval. It is a huge mind shift and step forward towards sustainable housing.

Each Ecovillage home needs to demonstrate that its whole of life carbon emissions won’t exceed a set specific target of -220kgCO2e / occupant / year.  It can be also expressed as a percentage of CO2 saving versus a benchmark residence, the target being a 105% carbon saving. Once future homebuyers have completed the concept and materials to use in their new homes, they need to confirm that their home is meeting the set targets in the Witchliffe Ecovillage Sustainable Building Design Guidelines.

To measure carbon, you need a tool that is easy and robust enough to calculate future home emissions. It also should be flexible and non-prescriptive, so that designers can be creative and explore different options of sustainable design and remain within their budget.

To support this effort, the Ecovillage team commissioned software company eTool to develop a new tool, which needed to be intuitive to use and provide the necessary confirmation. eTool is an LCA software provider and passionate environmentalist and has always had a soft spot for residential projects trying to lower their carbon footprint and their energy bills.

The first prototype was called eTool Turbo, then Lifecycle.House, but we ended calling it RapidLCA.

 

RapidLCA App for Low carbon HOMES and more…

The eTool team was inspired to be involved with such an iconic project as the Witchcliffe.

The process for RapidApp users is simple:

  • Download the app and find your lot or address
  • Spend 20-30 minutes to input data
  • Generate a compliance report showing your home’s carbon footprint and required targets are met
  • Submit for design approval, build permit, or even green loan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future of the RapidLCA App

As of early 2021, about 100 homes have undergone an LCA using the RapidLCA app and no-one was struggling to meet the metric of 105% CO2 reduction. In fact, many were exceeding the target, which proved that LCA is not hard and can be done by anyone, even without an architectural or engineering degree.

eTool is now working on enabling the one-off assessments for single use and extra features for interested developers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get in contact with US if you would like to know more.

 

RapidLCA App for Housing

eTool has recently delivered a new app for rapid life cycle assessment of houses. RapidLCA streamlines the sustainability assessment of lower density residential buildings. It is aligned with ISO standards for Life Cycle Assessment and CEN standards for the sustainability assessment of buildings.

We are extremely excited about this very ambitious project, the goal was to deliver a mobile app that could conduct a comprehensive, standards compliant LCA in under 20 minutes.  Incredibly that’s what we’ve achieved and we think there’s still a lot of room for making even easier and/or faster.

We expect there is a great application at the local government level as well to support planning requirements and decarbonise residential buildings. Because the assessment is performance based and not prescriptive it enables the largest environmental improvement at the lowest capital cost to development applicants (and often lower life cycle costs).

Simply navigate to RapidLCA.com in any browser to access the app.

Download the RapidLCA presentation here.

Please see the below videos that explain the background, showcase the app in action and present a couple case studies:

 

Background:

RapidLCA Demo:

 
 Case study (Land developer) – Witchcliffe Ecovillage:
 
 
  Case study (Local Government) – City of Vincent WA AU:
 
 
 

 

Bayswater Station – Integrated Life Cycle Design

Bayswater 1

eTool’s Life Cycle Assessment helped us understand how future impacts from energy, water, materials, recycling and waste will influence Greenhouse Gas emissions and whole of life costs of our project. It enabled us to identify and compare different options to support informed decision-making with our Alliance partners and our target of a sustainable, Green Star certified railway station “.

Caroline Minton, METRONET Sustainability Lead

 

Integration of Life Cycle Design and Assessment principles into project design planning is an important step in making the infrastructure more sustainable. A number of Australian State Government agencies have recognised this, including the METRONET program of works, which has a Sustainability Strategy (2019-2022) that outlines that each project identifies opportunities for emissions reductions and integrates life cycle methods into design development and decision making.

The new Bayswater Station project will become a key METRONET precinct with the Midland Line, Forrestfield-Airport Link and Morley-Ellenbrook Line connections, giving people the option to travel to the Airport, Swan Valley tourist region, the CBD and beyond.

eTool were engaged by the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA) to perform an LCA at the Concept Design stage for the redevelopment of the Bayswater Station and surrounding railway infrastructure. The modelling helped identify key environmental impact areas for the project over its estimated 120 years lifespan including all life cycle stages (initial construction, operation, refurbishment and maintenance, and the eventual end-of-life impacts).

  

Life Cycle Design for continuous improvement of project’s performance

 

The Life Cycle Design of the Bayswater Station provided the PTA WA with an opportunity to test the Concept Design and understand which elements were driving the greatest environmental impacts. Materials, labour and end-of-life cycle impacts associated with the infrastructure are substantial and can make up to 70% of all impacts.

eTool’s LCA highlighted that 63% of emissions of the infrastructure project were coming from materials used, unlike in the buildings sector where these make up around 30-35%. This emphasises how important it is to consider life-cycle impacts coming from materials and their maintenance from the earliest phase of the project.

As Rob Campbell, the eToolLCD Services Engineer, explained:

“Working with the PTA WA design team was insightful and highly motivating, as it helped to establish a process of continuous improvement of this project’s design concept. We trained some engineers working at PTA WA who will be able to conduct their own LCAs with eToolLCD in the future and showed what integrated life cycle design is about. We modelled everything: buildings, roads, bridges, railways, platforms, lighting, civil works.”

Initial focus of assessment was on construction materials and process impacts and given the nature of the project, other impact areas like lighting and product durability and maintenance were highlighted.

 

What was interesting about the Bayswater Station, was that the impact areas were quite different to other projects eTool had worked on. Rob gives an example:

ʼʼWe found that construction impacts and maintenance impacts were relatively high in comparison to other projects. In fact, the three impact areas of constructionmaintenance and operational energy were each almost equal. This posed the challenge of identifying strategies to reduce environmental impacts in areas that wouldn’t normally be considered in other projects. As much of this was new to eTool, it also meant working closely with the PTA WA team to ensure the inputs to the model were accurate, particularly when it came to items like rail and ballast maintenance, for example”.

 

A Very low-carbon design of railway infrastructure

Together with the PTA WA team eTool went a bit further and showed how to model a ‘very low carbon design scenario’ which was targeting over 90% GHG reduction compared to a Benchmark.

eTool suggested to use low-carbon materials like Cross Laminated Timber, smart lighting, electricity from on-site operating PV, local suppliers, low carbon concrete.

 

ʼʼWe had the most fun with this part, says Rob Campbell. Some of it was a bit pie in the sky, but I think that as an exercise it added real value to the project for the PTA WA team, and I hope that some of the ideas will be considered for future METRONET projects if not for Bayswater Station”.

Find more details about this project and related articles below:

Basewater Station – Concept Design

LCA in Sustainable Infrastructure (Australian and international policies and frameworks embedding life cycle principles and methods)

London Plan Policy – Targeting a reduction in building life cycle carbon emissions.

 

In response to the latest Draft London Plan Policy, eTool takes a closer look at the importance of Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments (WLC) and the latest guidance.

Draft London Plan Policy SI 2 sets out a requirement for developments to calculate and reduce WLC emissions. This requirement applies to planning applications which are referred to the Mayor, but WLC assessments are encouraged for all major applications. Guidance has been published to explain how the assessment of these carbon emissions should be approached and presented, and all planning applications referred to the Mayor must include a WLC assessment prepared in accordance with the WLC guidance document.(¹)

National Building Regulations and the Mayor’s net zero-carbon target for new development currently only account for a building’s operational carbon emissions. As methods and approaches for reducing operational emissions have become better understood, and as targets have become more stringent, these emissions are now beginning to make up a declining proportion of a development’s WLC emissions. Attention now needs to turn to WLC to incorporate the embodied emissions of a development.(2)

Whole Life-Cycle Carbon (WLC) emissions are the carbon emissions resulting from the materials, construction and the use of a building over its entire life, including its demolition and disposal. It is widely accepted that a WLC assessment provides a true picture of a building’s carbon impact on the environment.

Applicants should use benchmarks figures provided as a guide for the design team. Projects with higher emissions should discuss design improvements to reduce emissions early in the concept stage. Aspirational targets are encouraged in line with the World Green Building Council reduction of 40% embodied carbon emissions by 2030. 

eTool makes the Office Benchmark model available online for all eToolLCD users, including Open Users, to encourage design teams to engage LCA early in the design process. eTool Benchmark figures are closely aligned with the Policy Benchmarks as detailed below.

TableClick here to create an account and check the model online for more details. eToolLCD Benchmark model available online includes all modules.

What methodology should be used?

WLC assessments should be carried out using a nationally recognised assessment methodology.

In the UK, the recognised framework for appraising environmental impacts of the built environment is BS EN 15978. This standard was adopted for use by eTool since its release in 2011 (this article expands on EN 15978 further: https://etoolglobal.com/eblog/environment/en-15978/ ).

Supporting the BS EN 15978 is the now widely used RICS Professional Statement: Whole Life Carbon assessment for the built environment(3). It is this RICS policy that should be used as the methodology for assessment when developing a WLC assessment for compliance with Draft London Plan Policy SI 2 (this article explains how eToolLCD adheres to the RICS Professional Statement: Whole Life Carbon assessment https://support.etoollcd.com/index.php/knowledgebase/etoollcd-and-rics-whole-of-life-carbon-assessment-for-the-built-environment/ )

Both BS EN 15978 and the RICS Professional Statement: Whole Life Carbon assessment for the built environment, set out four stages in the life of a typical project and It effectively defines the goal, scope and method of the system boundary.

EN-15978-Diagram

A WLC assessment should cover the entirety of modules A, B, C and D to comply with the London Plan Policy SI 2, with a reference study period (assumed life expectancy of a building) of 60 years.

What about materials and products?

With regards to acceptable sources of carbon data for materials and products, there is an emphasis on EPD’s and equivalent datasets in accordance with EN 15804, ISO 21930, ISO 14067, ISO 14025, ISO 14040/14044 and PAS 2050.

When it comes to biogenic carbon from the use of timber, this should be assessed in accordance with Clause 3.4.1 of the RICS Professional Statement: Whole Life Carbon assessment for the built environment, and included within the reported totals for modules A1-A3.

Grid decarbonisation

Figures should be based on the current status of the electricity grid, in order to provide a point in time assessment, however it is also important to consider the possible long term decarbonisation of the grid and how it could impact design decisions. Therefore, a second set of figures should be provided based on the expected decarbonisation of the electricity grid over the lifetime of the development (i.e. 60 years). This should be done in accordance with the ‘National Grid’s Future Energy Scenario: Slow progression’, including in relation to the EPDs of all materials (UK and non-UK, for simplicity)(4)

eTool will continue to work with UK Industry Bodies and working groups to offer our ongoing support on the above subject and guidance relating to Life Cycle Design.

References:

(1)https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wlc_guidance_april_2020.pdf
(2) https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wlc_guidance_april_2020.pdf
(3) https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/media/news/whole-life-carbon-assessment-for-the–built-environment-november-2017.pdf
(4) https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wlc_guidance_april_2020.pdf
 

LCA in Sustainable Infrastructure

This article provides an insight into the latest sustainability policies and regulations that have integrated the Life Cycle Design approach. Continue reading

BIM & LCA – aiding a more collaborative approach to sustainable design.

In 2019, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) published the first two international standards for Building Information Modelling (BIM):

  • BS EN ISO 19650–1 Organisation of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 1: concepts and principles
  • BS EN ISO 19650-2 Organisation of information about construction works – Information management using building information modelling – Part 2: Delivery phase of assets.

Both of the ISO 19650 standards supersede BS1192:2007 + A2:2016 (principles) and PAS1192 part 2 (capital/delivery phase).

This long awaited move to an international BIM standard not only allows for greater collaboration on global projects, but also brings designers and contractors closer together through clear and precise information management.

So where does LCA fit into this?

The earlier you engage with Life Cycle Design the better. It is at pre-design stage where any decisions made have the biggest influence on energy demand and the environmental impact of a project, while featuring the smallest costs for changes to the design.

It is at early design stage where we need to come together and adopt a collaborative approach on a design that maximises its sustainable potential by including all parties in the design process.

new graph

 

As we have established, efficiency and collaboration on a project is the key factor during early planning stages. When it comes to sustainable buildings, designers will need to be aware of a plethora of information such as embodied carbon, resource use and toxicity. It is highly likely that this will require numerous iterations of the design, in order to produce the desired outcome.

The use of BIM in the design process will allow the design team more time to consider the sustainability factors of the project, by engaging with other members in a more collaborative approach.

With the advancement in BIM/LCA technologies, we are now in a fortunate position where there are LCA tools that can be integrated with BIM to assess the environmental impact of a building.

Standalone embodied assessment tools require data or a model to be imported from a separate BIM modelling application each time an assessment is carried out. Aside from being a laborious task, this is highly inefficient, and collaboration between all parties breaks down.

Many LCA tools have now been developed that offer BIM integration, however there still needs further improvement until LCA can work seamlessly within BIM. In many cases the result are far from ideal, with workflows being unable to work correctly in real life projects.  One contributing factor that can cause inaccuracies and mistakes in LCA results when produced through a BIM integrated workflow, is the human factor.

This is predominantly due to the level of detail in the BIM model. The LCA results will only be as correct and accurate as the BIM model itself. Omission of an element in the BIM model will naturally lead to the respective LCA scope reduction. Incorrect or too generic modelling of an element in the BIM model will lead to false modelling of this element in the LCA model.

Although the above principle can apply in all AEC BIM workflows, in the case of LCA, the effectiveness of the workflow also highly depends on the basis over which the LCA tool works. There are two distinct methods to obtain the Quantities Take-Off from a BIM model, the component level method and the material level method. When the material level method is used, the quantities are extracted from the BIM application material by material, sometimes with meta data showing the component this material belongs too. When adopting this approach, the Human Factor can negatively impact the accuracy of the results quite significantly. This is due to the current Level of Detail (LOD) the industry usually applies in the BIM models. A typical example of this are the glazing quantities, since it is very unlikely and probably also not worthwhile for the modeller to model the exact thickness of the two glazing panes of double-glazed window. Instead it will be modelled as one thick layer of glass that also overlaps the air gap between the panes. In addition, in the early stages most of the elements in a BIM model are filled with generic materials that describe the element itself instead of the actual material.

Using the component level method, which is also the approach followed in eToolLCD, the quantities go along with the components, not the materials. This means that the user will get the total area of a double-glazed window, not the total volume of glass and the total volume of the frame. This gives the user the opportunity to map these components with the respective ones within the LCA tool.

In eToolLCD, this approach is enabled by the utilisation of an extensive component (or template as it is known within e ToolLCD) library, which are essentially the virtual twins of the BIM components and the real life constructed components. With minimal effort from the LCA practitioner, they can then map all material quantities with LCI data sets, enabling higher accuracy of the final results due to the way the low LOD is handled and resolved.

By opting for whole of project life cycle assessment tools (such as eToolLCD) that are incorporated within widely used BIM applications i.e Revit, via a plugin (see this post for further information on eTool’s Revit plugin), it will encourage a more collaborative approach, enabling all parties involved in the project to have an input and make it possible to assess the overall sustainability of a project from conception through to demolition.

With the new ISO BIM standards focusing on collaboration, coupled with the LCA/BIM holistic approach to sustainable design, this truly gives us the opportunity to have a positive impact on our surroundings and the environmental impact of our buildings in the future.

Related article: Does eToolLCD integrate with 3D CAD packages or BIM?