Tree Planting May 2016

eTool’s Tree Planting: Round Three

Here at eTool we are extremely passionate about reducing Greenhouse gas pollution. Since 2014 it has become a tradition that the team get together at the Bruce family farm to get our hands dirty and have a fun day tree planting. After months of anticipation, when May 7th finally arrived, the whole eTool team was excited for round three of planting trees.

Five months earlier, Co-Founder of eTool, Alex Bruce had handed out seeds and pots for the team to plant and start growing their own trees. Although some didn’t make it, overall the seeds were nurtured and looked after well, allowing them to rapidly grow to get ready for the big tree planting event.


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The day was brilliantly run by Jenni and Lance the most fantastic tree planters and Mother Nature Day champions around. We had the best turn out yet, with over 40 people coming together to plant 300 trees and shrubs. Most people had grown their own trees from seed so quite a special moment to finally get them into the ground five months after planting the seeds in pots. The most important and rewarding element was watching all the kids getting their hands dirty and immersed in nature. Another truly special day enjoying nature and great company.

eTool’s Tree Planting

As you may be aware, here at eTool we are passionate about reducing Greenhouse gas pollution, and it’s not just when we are in the office but also in our spare time. Following on from last year’s successful weekend at Co-Founder Alex Bruce’s family farm, the eTool team set off for round two of tree planting.

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Fei, Rich and Al from eTool as well as family, friends and academics from CUSP were prepared and excited for a full day of tree planting. This year Marri and Eucalyptus Grandis seeds were planted, that will grow into big beautiful trees that will help suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, reduce salinity and erosion while increase local biodiversity. Some of these trees will be utilised later in life for bio energy and potentially building products.


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It was great to see the next generation (Rich’s kids) planting trees and getting their hands dirty.

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We couldn’t have picked a better weekend if we tried as we were delivered with absolutely perfect weather. It started off as a beautiful sunny day and once all the trees were planted it started to rain, ideal to help water them in. Everyone was then delighted when the most amazing rainbow appeared.

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To finish off a successful day the adults rewarded themselves with a glass of red by the bonfire to solve the problems of the world.

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A great weekend spent, watching friends relax and chat while planting trees. We are all looking forward to next year already.


[Wrap-up] Selling Sustainability: The Missing Link

Well what a show!

It was standing room only at Spacecubed for our “Selling Sustainability” show for a subject that definitely sparked the interest of a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds and organisations. The three guest speakers didn’t disappoint with rapid five-minute spiels with equal measure of entertainment, insight and inspiration. The crowd joined in nicely with plenty of excited and animated discussion that followed.

Adam from Tinderbox kicked it off by highlighting the importance of telling a story in your marketing and branding. The story needs to be tailored to the archetypes of your audienceand again really understands what makes them tick. He made a fantastic point that people don’t buy Apple products because they are cheap, they buy them because they are sold on the story behind the brand.

Once you’ve got someone looking at your product, it’s time to listen to their needs, concerns, desires, and “hot buttons”. Diagnose them like a doctor and then provide the right solution – your product. One of many awesome analogies that Sven from Psaros unleashed during the night. Just like in marketing to sell well, you need to get inside your audience rather than trying to convince them of your ideas.

I was definitely corrected by Sven when asking about born sales people – “You’re not born a sales person you learn it”. Sven’s advice is “go and get some training, even 20 years later, you can still learn and improve your sales technique”.

One recurring theme was that empathy held the key. As Chris, from the Forever Project, pointed out your neighbour might drive a V8 ute and have two jet ski’s in his double brick garage but he is probably a really nice guy too. With a few conversations you may end up sneaking a few native plants into his sprawling green grass and start something big…. As Chris has tested recently serving up organic food is a good way to get people interested but when the entrée is the dirt that it was grown in, suddenly you give people a powerful connection to what is important in life and what is important on this planet. Enabling people see why we do what we do is far more convincing than just telling them what we do.

A pitch from Andrew from Life Cycle Logic nailed it when he summed up “we are not selling sustainability we are selling a vision of an awesome future”.

Another really interesting topic was the use of fear. It seemed to be agreed that fear could be used effectively, but you needed to be really careful that it wasn’t mindless baseless fear that the tabloids dish up. It needs to be something grounded in reality that can assist in convincing people to make a change for the better.

I didn’t count the words, but I know passion, vision, empathy, emotion, and dreams scored an order of magnitude higher than logic. Hard for me to cop as an engineer but pretty obvious that people buy with the heart and not the head. Considering that sustainability isn’t about logical short term gains but more about that awesome vision for the future, this makes total sense.

The feedback has been fantastic and judging by the crowds engagement, note taking and solid conversation afterwards it would appear that we all got a lot out of it.

Thanks to the venue sponsor Psaros, the three fantastic speakers, Portia from eTool for managing and most of all the attendees for making it an awesome night.

We are keen to keep the conversation going so please register your interest by emailing and we’ll arrange another session.


Wrap-Up: “Who is afraid of a low carbon economy?”

Where would you find a presentation containing the following:

  • electric autonomous vehicles
  • pumping sewage out to fertilise farm land
  • timber buildings
  • cannibalism
  • and
  • paperless offices ?

At an eTool CSI talk of course! But what do they all have in common?

They were all strategies (some definitely tongue in cheek) to help move us to a low carbon economy.

It was a great show with (as you can see) plenty of super diverse conversations and ideas bouncing around the room. Interestingly, while technology was the focus the conversation naturally moved towards the social motivators.

We decided to run the session because we felt that there was a lot of fear pushed around by self interested organisations to make everyone scared of a low carbon economy. We wanted to show that it was easy.

While the some of the above strategies were pushing the boundaries, Rich, Pat and I each presented some basic concepts that would transition the entire economy to something close to sustainable.

Rich covered Transport and Waste. With transport, the solutions lay in increasing fuel efficiency, EVs, Bio fuels, appropriate sized vehicles, shift of freight to rail and improved logistics, autonomous vehicles, public transport and bikes, reduced transport needs through service based economy, and cool ideas like kite-powered shipping. With waste, it was ensuring organics don’t go into landfill with some of it going to fertiliser and some to energy, while using waste water to create methane and fertilising farm land.

Pat covered Industry with fuel replacement, recycling, alternative materials and reduced consumption being part of the mix.

I covered Land Use and Agriculture which were both pretty closely tied with most of the impacts from land use coming from agriculture. The solutions lay in shifting diets, reducing waste, changing farming models, converting inefficient food production to timber production, and going paperless.

You might ask “what about buildings?”. Well, eTool works on this every day of the week and if you follow what we do you’ll realise this is pretty much done and dusted. That said, if you want to know how to get a zero carbon building please get in contact with us.

The conversation that followed was fantastic and it looks like we will be running a similar session in the future so stay tuned…

– Al

Wrap-Up: “Is there such thing as a sustainable building?”

Is there such thing as a sustainable building?

While it’s something that we are all striving for, are we able to define exactly what a “sustainable building” is? Is “sustainable” even the right word? Is it even possible to achieve? Is it something that we will ever agree on? And do we even need to agree to get a good outcome?

Alex Bruce facilitated this interesting conversation at one of our Cool. Smart. Innovative. sessions earlier this year. To guide the process, he broke it into sections:

1) What does sustainability mean?

To Alex’s surprise, everyone agreed on the definition of what sustainability meant: “a good quality of life for everything on the planet without compromising the ability for future generations to enjoy the same quality of life”. It’s interesting that everyone agreed on this point because it proves there has been a paradigm shift from the previous definitely of sustainable development which focused on only human quality of life, rather than the whole planet. Sustainability used to also be discussed as just “sustaining” or surviving, but now there seems to be agreement that it’s about prosperity.

2) Breaking sustainability into categories

This was a bit more difficult to narrow down but a consensus was reached that environment/ecosystem was most important as without it, we don’t have a society or economy.

3) Challenges & Solutions

It was discussed that in order to best achieve sustainable buildings, we need to put quantifiable targets of budgets around the things that can be quantified (carbon, water usage, etc.) One of the ways in which to do this, is to conduct a life cycle assessment. It was noted by the group that one of the biggest challenges to achieving sustainability on a personal level was the courage required to remove yourself from the social norm and stop consuming the things we are told we need to consume to be happy.

It was a fantastic night with great input by everyone. Thanks to all of you who participated.

If you missed this session but would like to stay informed or attend our next talk, sign up to our newsletter.

eToolLCD Advanced Training

LCA Training with eToolLCD 

eTool hosts an Assesor Lite training over the course of two half days where participants will gain a hands-on understanding of life cycle assessment and eToolLCD. The training is held at the eTool office as well as in a webinar format to accommodate those outside of Australia.

Course Overview
eTool’s eToolLCD Assessor Lite training is designed to provide a a comprehensive understanding of of LCA methodology as well as a basic understanding of how to conduct an Life Cycle Assessment using eToolLCD. In this training you will be guided through your own practice project through to “certification” level to ensure a full understanding of the concepts and software. Upon completion of eToolLCD Assessor Lite training, you will have firsthand experience conducting an LCA as well as an overall undestanding of life cycle assessment of the built form. Ongoing support will be provided through your next project as required, at mutually agreeable times, to get your project to “certification” level. Upon completion of this second “certified” project, you will be awarded “Assessor Lite” accreditation.

Date: Please see this page for full dates
Location: 40-44 Pier Street, Perth WA 6000
Webinar: Attendees will be sent a GoToMeeting login the week of the event
Your trainer: Richard Haynes – eTool Co-Founder and Lead Software Development
Cost: $2,200 (incl GST)*

*This cost covers the 2-day training as well as one “certified” project.


Day 1

  •  Aims of eToolLCD Software, eToolLCD History
  •  LCA Basics
  •  eTool Project Tree (including impact categories)
  •  Entering and Editing
    • Project
    • Buildings (with explanation of design life algorithm)
    • Design
  • Templates:
    • Templates Library
    • Viewing, adding cloning and creating Library Templates
    • Adding Templates to Designs
    • Custom Templates (within a design)
  • Low Carbon Design Principles and Demonstrations:
    •  Building Design Life and Effect on Embodied Impacts
    • Low Carbon Materials (and the thermal mass trade off)
    • Assembly, transport and travel impacts
    • Recurring impacts (maintenance)
    • Operational Energy Efficiency
    • Renewable Energy

Day 2

  •  Overview of Advanced Features
    • Nested Templates
    •  eTool Expressions Wizard
    • Custom grids, equipment and materials
    • Cloning a Design for Improvements or Scenarios
    •  LCA Reporting
    •  Submitting for Certification
    • The Future for eToolLCD Software


eTool’s Tree Planting Weekend at the Bruce Family Farm

Here at eTool, we’re passionate about reducing carbon dioxide emissions and making the world a better place. We also like to go out in nature and get our hands dirty from time to time and we decided to combine the two and head out to the eTool Co-Founder Alex Bruce’s family farm for a weekend. The team enjoyed a documentary under the stars and got up bright an early the next morning to plant some native saplings in an area of the farm experiencing some erosion. The eTool kiddies had a fantastic time getting their hands dirty… and so did the adults!


Webinar: Intro to eTool LCA – Life Cycle Assessment made easy

Want to learn about life cycle assessment (LCA) of the built form?

Join Richard Haynes, Co-founder and Software Development Team Leader of eTool, for a complimentary webinar on life cycle assessment (LCA) of the built form. The session will provide an introduction into life cycle assessment for buildings, eTool LCA software and an overview of LCA standards around the world.


Date: Wednesday, 21st May
Time: 9:00am to 10:00am AWST (Australian Western Standard Time)
Webinar: Attendees will be sent a GoToMeeting login the week of the event 
Cost: Free 

Webinar Structure

  • Intro to eTool
  • LCA of a Building in 10 Minutes
  • Running Improvement Scenarios
  • Reporting
  • LCA Standards Overview
    • ISO 14040 – LCA Principles and Framework
    • ISO 14044 – Requirements and Guidelines
    • ISO 14025 – Product Environmental Labelling Type III
    • ISO 14067 – GHG Carbon Footprinting
    • EN 15804 – Building Product Declarations
    • EN 15978 – Assessment of Environmental Performance of Buildings



Wrap-up: The Great Debate

On 3 April, eTool and Cundall with support from Property Council of Australia, hosted The Great Debate: “What will transition us to sustainable buildings the fastest: Market, Legislation, or Incentives?” Alex Bruce (eTool) debated “Market”, Oliver Grimaldi (Cundall) debated “Legislation” and Lino Iacomella (PCA) debated “Incentives”.

The debate was a huge success and there was some great discussion with the audience on what the best solution is. To gauge the preferred solution and the impact of the debate, we took two polls, one before the debate and one at the end.

First Poll

Market           37%
Legislation     34%
Incentives      29%

Last Poll

Market           27%
Legislation     32%
Incentives      41%

Lino Iacomella who debated “Incentives”, was the winner of the debate, swinging the most votes by the end. The conversation was interesting and the night ended on a positive note, reiterating that there isn’t always one clear-cut solution, in most cases we need combination of all three.


Meet eTool at Eco Week Spring Festival

Spring has sprung in the Perth Cultural Centre with the 2013 Spring Festival on Saturday the 26th of October.

Broadcast live on ABC 720 Perth’s Shoots and Roots Program, there will be an Urban Orchard harvest and planting event, plus Waterwise Productive Gardening Workshop with ABC Gardening Australia’s Josh Byrne, CCWA Speakers Marquee, National Garage Sale Trail, Eco Markets and food stalls.

For the kids there will be educational ‘facts and frogs’ activities in the PCC Native Wetland, and Numbat Nook will host the Perth Zoo, Junkadelic Recycling workshops and more.

Hosted by the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Josh Byrne & Associates and the Perth Cultural Centre, this is a free community event focusing on sustainability and our environment.

To sign up for the Harvest and Planting Day and Waterwise Productive Gardening Workshop go

To register for the Spring Festival CCWA Garage Sale Trail go to

Click attending on our Facebook event to keep up to date with the latest news, and invite your friends!
Eco Week WA will promote an environmentally conscious future and raise awareness to encourage action for the environment.

What’s on for Spring Festival

ABC Outside Broadcast

720 ABC Perth will broadcast the Saturday Breakfast ‘Shoots and Roots’ with James Lush and Sabrina Hahn live from the urban Orchard

Harvest and Planting Event

Community harvest of the spring Crop and planting of the summer crop at the Urban Orchard.

The mornings activities provide the perfect opportunity for families and communities to come together and get involved with the PCC

Learning new Waterwise gardening techniques for their home patch participants may even be able to take home some free fresh fruit and veg.”

Waterwise Productive Gardening Workshop

The workshop will see Josh Byrne from Gardening Australia conduct practical hands on demonstrations with interactive audience Q&A covering such topics as hydrozoning, soil building, drip irrigation, greywater reuse and planting.

Josh’s talk will also be complimented by a team of irrigation and greywater specialist who will further engage with participants on water saving principles through demonstrations and an extended Q&A session.

Urban Wetland Education with ‘Facts & Frogs’

Woven through the activities for the session is making homes for urban wildlife.

We start by building a frog pond on stage, then invite kids to help develop our city wetland by releasing animals into our wetland.  In our second talk, we’ll add habitat around our frog pond (as is happening in the Cultural Centre & Urban Orchard).

In the activities surrounding the wetland, Families will play with natural objects, create creatures and look at animals that live in urban wetlands and bushlands, as well as participating in wetland fauna releases approximately every 15 minutes.

In our finale, the Wildlife Art Parade, kids will be part of an animal invasion into our wildlife garden on the wetland stage.

Numbat Nook Kids area

A fun family friendly zone at the back of the Urban Orchard featuring, Perth Zoo arts activities,  Junkadelic recycled music and dance workshops, REmida creative reuse centre arts activities, Recycling workshops with Mindarie Regional Council, Eco Fairy song and dance, City of Perth recycled pot plant making, face painting, and giant recycled puppets.

Garage Sale Trail

Inner city residents, especially apartment dwellers, will be invited to join Perth’s biggest garage sale – drawing attention to ways of reducing domestic waste.

Film Zone

Sit back and relax on some comfy beanbags as the Conservation Council of Western Australia features Eco short and feature films throughout Spring Festival and the week.

Eco Markets

A market with artisanal crafts and sustainability focused products, as well as info stalls from NGO’s. Food stalls will be using biodegradable packaging.

CCWA Speakers Marquee

A educational program that highlights the importance of the Western Australian environment, biodiversity, and sustainable living skills such as permaculture, worm farming, energy saving, food production and waste management, housed in an enormous red tent!