Big News for Low Carbon Infrastructure

eTool achieved an IMPORTANT MILESTONE in March 2022 and we’d like to share some GOOD news with you:

Approval of eToolLCD by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia

eToolLCD (v18) has received official ISC Approval as ‘equivalent’ to the Infrastructure Sustainability Materials Calculator (ISMC v2.0.08) when configured in-line with the processes detailed in the ‘Equivalence Procedure’. eToolLCD can be used to conduct the Materials lifecycle impact measurement and reduction credit (RSO-6) within an applicable IS Rating submission.
eTool Product Team produced the Alignment Report and the ISC Equivalence Procedure which were reviewed and validated by the ISC Technical Advisors to ensure a robust comparison at an asset and material level (GWP and EnviroPoints) as well as functionality aspects.
eToolLCD provides additional processes enabling users to model and optioneer with greater accuracy and explore more low impact design options. eToolLCD was recognised for having a rich feature set to speed up the modelling process and allow integration with BIM / LCC.

This is very exciting because now ISC projects in Australia can complete an LCA and report on the RSO-6 credit and it’s a great time saving bonus to have.

 

If you are working on a ISC project, check this Guidance out and learn how to conduct an LCA for RSO-6 credit in eToolLCD.

 

Access free eToolLCD infrastructure training HERE.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are here for you.

 

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)

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

Links between LCA and the Circular Economy

Circular Economy (CE) is a philosophy that has gained a good deal of momentum within sustainable construction recently.  We have seen the new draft London Plan requiring consideration of Circular Economy (as well as embodied carbon) on all major London developments.  eTool also recently contributed to the UKGBC guidance on Circular Economy (a copy can be viewed here) and there is a definite feeling of ground-shift within the industry which is exciting to see.

The key concept behind building circular is that waste is simply a design flaw and that if we can remove it entirely then we will see improvements to the environmental, cost and social performance of our projects.

A circular economy is a global economic model that decouples economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources. It is restorative by design, and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times (Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

Many aspects of circular principles currently have a qualitative focus.  A quantitative approach, however, can go hand-in-hand with this through LCA. By analysing the environmental and/or economic impacts of the potential circular strategies over the life cycle we can prioritise those that provide the greatest benefit.  There is a lot more that can be drawn from an LCA study than embodied carbon data.

LCA circle graphic

In eTool we measure full impacts over the building life cycle from cradle-cradle and have numerous other environmental indicators that help measure environmental performance beyond Embodied Carbon and life cycle GWP.  One group of indicators now measured in eTool LCAs has been developed by HS2 to help quantify circular principles, see materials efficiency metrics for further details.

Quantifying Benefits

There are numerous circular principles that may produce good environmental outcomes.

• Refurbishing/repurposing/recovering existing buildings or materials
• Specifying materials with high recycled content
• Designing for disassembly and end-of-life reuse
• Designing for longevity/adaptability/reusability where its appropriate.

However, without full life cycle quantification of the strategies under consideration, there is no way of knowing the relative benefits, which ones to prioritise and which ones produce perverse outcomes. For example, recycled aggregate trucked from 70km away actually has much higher impacts today than locally sourced virgin aggregate.

Recycled Aggregate

Global Warming Potential (kgCO2e) for product and transport stage (A1-A4)

Recycled metals, on the other hand, have relatively minor transport impacts (see figure below). eToolLCD contains a growing list of “Recommendation” strategies that users can apply to their LCA work.  We have a tagging system with a new “circular economy” tag for any that relate to refurbish/recycling/deconstruction/longevity.

Module D

Module D of EN15978 relates to “benefits and loads beyond the system boundary” and has particular relevance for circular strategies,

  • D1 – Operational Energy Exports
  • D2 – Closed Loop Recycling
  • D3 – Open Loop Recycling
  • D4 – Materials Energy recovery
  • D5 – Direct Re-use

Under Module D where materials will be recycled at the end of their life, a benefit credit is given in the LCA. For example, if a cladding system is designed for deconstruction the materials are more likely to be recycled at the end of life we will see an improved performance in the LCA from module D (product reuse).

Capture2

1 Tonne of Virgin aluminium shipped 1500km

Allocating recycling loads and benefits can get a little tricky when trying to avoid any double counting of impacts, more information on Module D can be found at this blog post.

Longevity and functional units

Buildings that can last for very long periods are clearly a better use of resources than buildings that get knocked down after 20 years.  The life expectancy of many low-density inner-city commercial buildings is unlikely to reach far beyond 20 years due to redevelopment pressure. However certain high-density megastructures (such as the Shard) will likely still be standing for 100 years or more.  Its going to be a long time before someone thinks they can replace the Shard with a building that will create more value from the real estate. To capture the relative benefits and savings of a buildings life expectancy it is important to apply an appropriate functional unit to the LCA. It is common in the industry to measure impacts in absolute terms over a 60 year period – kg CO2e/m2.  Applying a realistic life expectancy based on building location and density relative to its surroundings and presenting impacts in temporal terms – kg CO2e/m2/year the LCA will present a truer picture of the results.  This is particularly important when considering Circular Economy principles.  Materials going into a building that lasts twice as long before being demolished and sent to landfill will have half the life cycle impacts.

Circular Economy Philosophy

Whilst there are often clear quantifiable benefits of applying circular principles it is important that we do not lose sight of the bigger picture. It makes sense to rely purely on circular economy principles when trying to reduce finite resource exploitation, however, many building materials today actually have an abundance of supply – see our “Are we running out of materials blog post”. When we are trying to optimise for a different environmental problem, for example, Global Warming, purely focussing on the circular economy principles may not necessarily result in a net positive outcome (as shown above).

Circular economy represents one of the many “means” to the end goal of true environmental sustainability. We must be careful to quantify our strategies and avoid applying circularity simply for the sake of circularity which may sometimes be more detrimental to the planet than a linear strategy. We will need tools such as recycling and re-use to achieve a zero carbon future but material consumption is not in itself always a bad thing if done sustainably relative to the alternatives.

 

 

What will green buildings deliver in 50 years?

life cycle design

The construction industry is going through major changes under the Green flag. The greening of building stock and infrastructure becomes more than just an idea, but a strategical attribute in developing the future of the precincts and entire cities all over the world.

The net zero carbon target is ambitious and requires that all new buildings must be operational zero carbon by 2030, and all new and existing buildings must be net zero carbon by 2050.

Transition from building better to building sustainable.

Impact reduction target is a fundamental aspect of concept design and will assist the transition in sustainable construction. Designers and experts are used to discussing energy efficiency, or kWh/m2, but very rarely there is a carbon target (e.g. 100 kgCO2 per m2 of lettable area per year) set at an early project stage (A rough carbon budget for buildings was presented by eTool in a previous blog article).

We hear more often about passive design principles, energy-efficient equipment and storage, carbon-negative materials and a combination of onsite and offsite production of clean energy. Renewable energy generation is increasing at phenomenal speed and it’s transforming the whole economy,  reducing environmental impacts related to building’s operations and manufacturing of construction products.

At a district level, buildings are being thermally and electrically integrated with the community, and energy monitoring platform can track large groups of building performance, scaling up to whole district analysis. Targets climate funding is also helping retrofit existing buildings at municipal level and replicate success cases in other regions.

Different construction sectors define green design through different indicators.

Definition of the green design varies depending on specific needs but aims to accelerate the change towards a future in balance with the planet.

Tenants are motivated by the reduction of operational costs with energy and water bills, but it can also include aesthetics and being environmentally conscious, stating that “I care” or “I am different”.

Home owners would focus on the durability of materials, life of the entire property and low maintenance cost.

Developers would probably look on environmental aspects in combination to total cost and return on investment – called a “Green per Dollar” perspective.

Finally, the precincts and local governments might go with green construction by various reasons: to encourage innovation, long-term city planning including improvement of citizen’s well-being, quality of life and environment.

Life Cycle Design as a method to look inside the black box.

Green design and performance indicators need to be transparent and standardized to satisfy major motivations of groups and individuals. The best way to fully quantify the environmental impact is by looking at the whole of project life cycle performance and using Life Cycle Design (LCD) methodology to model impacts from construction through to the end of life, including use phase impacts. Most importantly, LCD can help to understand the project functionality, and how well it is delivering the proposed primary function. LCD looks at a building through the prism of many features, holistically and over the life time. This prism includes operational energy and water, durability of materials, maintenance and wide spectrum of environmental impacts. LCD approach is combined with Life Cycle Costing to help designers understand the “Green per Dollar” feasibility of improvement initiatives and how economically sustainable the overall design is throughout its lifespan.

Life cycle thinking to build better buildings today.

There´s a global trend in the construction industry to adopt life cycle thinking and we increasingly hear terms like circular economy, cradle-to-grave or even cradle-to-cradle, closed loop recycling or designing for deconstruction. The use of Life Cycle Assessment is increasing in a number of Green Building Rating Schemes (Green Star, LEED, BREEAM, HQE, LBC), and also is the newly available life cycle inventory data, user-friendly LCA software tools, Environmental Product Declarations.

The growth in regulations within the construction industry is also observed, with planning policies mandating environmental reduction targets and improving the general industry know how. Companies are using science based targets to measure efficiency of their climate action plans and understanding how they are related to the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To meet changing requirements related to a sustainable future within the construction industry, systems and tools need to be widely used from concept stage on throughout the design development process. This will allow project teams to set ambitious environmental targets and therefore implement the life cycle approach to deliver the buildings of the future already today.

 

 

References:

UN environment – The Global Status Report 2017 – Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector

World Resources Institute – What Is the Future of Green Building?

 

Want to learn more about eToolLCD and LCA?  Please register for our next webinar event

We hope this article was useful, stay in touch!

 

eTool To Provide Life Cycle Assessment software to HS2

eTool have been engaged by HS2 to provide our market leading life cycle design software eToolLCD.

HS2 is Europe’s largest infrastructure project, designed to increase capacity on the UK’s railways and improve connectivity between eight out of 10 of Britain’s biggest cities, creating thousands of jobs and rebalancing our economy. It will run between London and Birmingham from 2026, extend to Crewe by 2027 and then link to Manchester and Leeds from 2033 with HS2 trains continuing to cities including Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In order to measure, reduce and report on carbon emissions, materials efficiency and wider embedded environmental impacts, HS2 have adopted a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. This modelling will include impact analysis across all life cycle stages from the extraction of raw materials through to processing, transport, use and disposal.  Using eToolLCD, the modelling will be conducted in accordance with applicable standards including BS EN ISO 14040, BS EN ISO 14044, BS EN 159783 and PAS 2080. The LCA modelling results will also be used to demonstrate achievement of credits within BREEAM Infrastructure.

eToolLCD was awarded its contract with HS2 after a thorough tendering process.  eTool also look forward to developing the eToolLCD further to complement HS2’s bespoke requirements, such as evaluating their innovative materials efficiency metric.

The tool will initially be used to develop baseline, against which design options can be assessed.  As the design progresses, HS2 subcontractors will take on LCA modelling tasks to further develop the models and identify further opportunities for improving the life cycle performance.  Through using eToolLCD’s unique enterprise functionality, multiple users can review and collaborate effectively on large complex LCA models, a feature that will enable this sequential and collaborative assessment.

How to complete an LCA for BREEAM 2018

life cycle design

From specific products to whole project analysis, LCA is taking off globally to help project teams quantify and improve environmental performance to meet global and national impact reduction targets.  BREEAM have recognised this and the new updates to BREEAM 2018 place a heavy emphasis on the LCA approach.

  • Up to 2 credits available for completing an LCA using IMPACT.  Credits awarded depend on performance against the Bre benchmarks.  Credit is awarded at Stage 4 once detailed design information is available
  • Up to 2.66 further credits available for Superstructure options appraisals during RIBA stage 2
  • Up to 1.33 further credits available for Superstructure options appraisals during RIBA stage 4
  • 1 credit available for substructure and landscaping options appraisal during RIBA Stage 2
  • 1 exemplary credit available for services options appraisal during RIBA stage 2
  • 1 exemplary credit for alignment with LCC
  • 1 exemplary credit “3rd party verification”

Understandably this is a big step change for many design teams used to the traditional Green Guide approach.  However, significant changes are enabling LCA to become common practice for designers, including:

  • newly available life cycle data,
  • user-friendly and cost-effective software platforms,
  • collaborative development of international standards and increased transparency,
  • integration with Life Cycle Costing for economic and environmental accounting
  • LCA legislation in planning policies, EIA and government incentives,
  • increasing uptake in academic research and universities curriculum
  • professional leadership and technical know-how;

The heavy weighting of credits for Stage 2 analysis encourages design teams to consider the life cycle impacts of their buildings at early design stages. (BREEAM require evidence for this to be submitted pre-planning). Applied at project concept stage, LCA provides insight and huge opportunities for life cycle environmental and cost improvements. Performance targets can be set during project preparation and brief, “what if” scenarios are used to assist design development and a detailed report will consolidate results according to project specifications. This “disruptive” practice in sustainable design will hopefully unlock the further potential to decarbonise buildings and infrastructure.

How an integrated design process for BREEAM 2018 works?

Riba graphic

 

LCA Stage 2: Often there will be limited information available at pre-planning and a limited appetite for spending money on LCA.  This is where eTools powerful template system comes into its own.  Our whole building LCA templates allow for quick, rough and ready LCA analysis.  With only basic information the template will fill the gaps using industry average defaults, this can be analysed for hotspots and design options and updated with project specifics as the design progresses through to Stage 4.

Benchmarking:  Although the benchmarking credits do not need to be submitted until Stage 4 the benchmarking report is fully automated from eTool.  So the number of likely benchmarking credits can be analysed early on and design options can be prioritised based on what provides the greatest uplift.

LCC Alignment: Aligning the LCA and LCC is of vital importance for effective LCA work. Quantifying the costs of improvements will help teams prioritise how to get the best environmental gain for least capital spent. With our recent cost functionality, it is a simple step to extract LCC results from your LCA model and report for the Man2 credits. Simply ensure you report the same options in your LCA submission as you do in your LCC reporting.

Substructure and Landscaping:  Our templates system covers all of these elements and they can be added to the model with basic information (eg depth and width of piles or area of macadam road).

Services: Services require a separate model because the Bre IMPACT data cannot currently be used to model services.  More information here.

3rd Party:  Our certification service is provided to all users projects completed commercially as part of our standard software offering. During the certification process, a senior eTool LCA practitioner is made available to the project and will undertake all quality checks defined in BREEAM.

For further detail on how to run reports for Breeam 2018 from eTool please see our support video here.

To continue supporting this process, eTool have released the eToolLCD Enterprise subscription. Embedding LCA at an organisation level has become easier and will provide added value with centralised ownership of LCA models, inter-company collaboration for integrated design and an unrestricted number of read-only users. 

Designers that have increased demand for LCA services can choose the new Specialist subscription to work on an unlimited number of projects with a fixed software cost.

We are working hard to continue bringing innovative solutions and we are improving eTooLCD with additional life cycle inventories, enhanced Life Cycle Costing functionality and many others that you can check out by creating your account at eToolLCD.

eTool have produced a number of different articles on integrated design using LCA including latest materials comparison, reporting efficiency and additional revenue by selling LCA services. Help us by sharing with friends and colleagues.

Want to learn more?  Please register for our next webinar event

We hope this article was useful, stay in touch!

 

How to ingrain LCA into your design process

life cycle design

A safe environment for future generations is being designed with the increasing use of Life Cycle Assessment. From specific products to whole project analysis, LCA is taking of globally to help project teams quantify and improve environmental performance to meet global and national impact reduction targets.

Significant changes are enabling LCA to become common practice for designers, including:

  • newly available life cycle data,
  • greater importance given to LCA in green building and infrastructure rating systems (LEED, BREEAM and Green Star),
  • user friendly and cost effective softwares,
  • collaborative development of international standards and increased transparency,
  • integration with Life Cycle Costing for economic and environmental accounting
  • LCA legislation in planning policies and government incentives,
  • increasing uptake in academic research and universities curriculum
  • professional leadership and technical knowhow;

Applied at project concept stage, LCA provides so much insight and huge opportunities for life cycle environmental and cost improvements. Performance targets can be set during project preparation and brief, “what if” scenarios are used to assist design development and a detailed report will consolidate results according to project specifications. This “disruptive” practice in sustainable design is unlocking great potential to decarbonise buildings and infrastructure.

How an integrated design process using LCA looks like?

Project Stage and LCA Processes(1)

Life Cycle Design is gaining greater recognition in Green Building and Infrastructure rating systems. Early engagement of LCA consultants will identify impact hot spots and help prioritise improvement strategies that are most cost effective. LCA credits may be easier to achieve as a result of engaging early. 

To continue supporting this process, eTool have just released the eToolLCD Enterprise subscription. Embedding LCA at an organisation level has become easier and will provide added value with centralised ownership of LCA models, inter-company collaboration for integrated design and unrestricted number of read-only users. 

Designers that have increasing demand for LCA services can choose the new Specialist subscription to work on unlimited number of projects with a fixed software cost.

We are working hard to continue bringing innovative solutions and we are improving eTooLCD with additional life cycle inventories, enhanced Life Cycle Costing functionality and many others that you can check out by creating your account at eToolLCD.

eTool have produced a number of different articles on integrated design using LCA including latest materials comparison, reporting efficiency and additional revenue by selling LCA services. Help us by sharing with friends and colleagues.

We hope this article was useful, stay in touch!

 

LCA for Infrastructure projects

After completing the LCAs for Brookfield Multiplex on the New Perth Stadium, for LendLease on the Waterbank – Infrastructure and Public Domain Area (IPD), and currently working on the NorthLink WA Southern Section with John Holland, eTool is excited to share with you how LCA can be used for Infrastructure project.

On this video recorded during our last webinar, LCD Engineer and Business Development Manager Henrique Mendonca shows why Life Cycle Design adds value to an infrastructure design process and how it can be done using eToolLCD software. It also provides an overview of potential IS credits (Infrastructure Sustainability) using Life Cycle Assessment by integrating materials, energy, water, waste, management and innovation in a single LCA model.

 

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Design Civil Structures with eTool LCA

When we created eTool LCA, our aim was to reduce the global carbon footprint through the built form.
Initially we thought about buildings; residential, commercial and community based structures that would benefit from using a design life tool from conception to build to use. But this only gives us half the picture.

With eTool LCA we can look at all type of built forms including civil structures such as roads, bridges and dams. These types of vital infrastructure use energy through materials, transport, assembly and recurring maintenance just the same as traditional buildings, so it’s important that we account for them as well.

Watch our short video showing you how to build a road…

Using eTool LCA’s custom template feature, you can easily input the exact specifications of any structure, in the case of a road, we included the width, length and a combination of materials.
Once you’ve created an example template, you can add as many as you like and compare the environmental and cost implications across a number of variables to help with the decision process.

This LCA was based on an average 1km asphalt road with the following building specifications –

Floor Area: 1000m2
Floor Width: 500mm

Sign up to eTool LCA today and give it a go or contact us to order an assessment.