{#3} Why Love LCD? – It offers an integrated design process.

Our “Love LCD” campaign is now in full swing and we’re excited to release our videos over the coming weeks. We started this campaign because we are passionate about reducing carbon in buildings and to us, life cycle design is the best way to do that. We want to spread our love of LCD and hope others will be inspired to learn more and use Life Cycle Design too!

Why Love LCD?

{Reason #3} LCD Offers an Integrated Design Process.

Watch Alex Bruce (eTool Co-founder and Business Development Director) tell us why he loves Life Cycle Design.

Check out our other ‘Love LCD’ videos:


{#1} Life cycle assessment allows you to identify the sometimes surprising aspects of a design that can be improved.


{#2} LCD takes the guesswork out of sustainability


Car Park Lighting Sensors

So if you’re designing an apartment building and you’re stuck with an underground car park things can get pretty nasty with energy consumption.  With no natural light and a clear safety requirement to keep the area lit all things point to an energy hungry lighting solution.   Even the most efficient lamps will still burn a lot of power running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The most obvious solution to drop run time is lighting controls.  Specifically motion sensors.  But how should these be set up, and how does the set up (number of lamps per sensor and lamp shutoff delay) actually effect the energy savings the controls will achieve?  The short answer is, make sure they turn off really quickly after the car or person is out of the area.  The long answer is below:

It’s Complex…

The interplay between the car park layout, vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic, simultaneous use of certain areas of the car park, probability of a specific car bay being accessed, the shut-off delay timing and the distribution of sensors means calculating light run time is very complex.  Pondering the possibilities got the better of me and I ended up running a simulation to determine effect of some key parameters.

A Conceptual Car Park

The conceptual car park looked like the below pick.  Effectively 150 bays with one pedestrian access and a main vehicle exit point at one end.

Car Park Map

I used some basic lighting design to work out how many lights would be needed (single globe T5s) to achieve an adequate light levels (50lx).  The calcs indicated a requirement of about 80 lamps.  I just placed these in the road ways and walk ways in my conceptual design.  These are the numbers with the x in front of them.  In reality they’d be probably be spaced more evenly but this satisfies the requirements of the model which is just to see how many lights would be triggered when each bay was accessed.

Which Car Bay Triggers which Lamp?

That was a manual process of thinking about how a person will walk from the lift to the car, and then how they will drive out (or vice versa).  The below diagram shows that if car bay 125 is accessed the blue line will be traversed by the car driver and passengers, whilst the red line will be travelled by the car.  All the lamps highlighted in red will subsequently need to fire.

Car Park Map - Lights Triggered By Bay 125

Simulation

I got some stats on how many trips and average household does from here and here.  The Sydney data also gave these neat graphs on when the trips occur as well.  This enabled me to put a probability on a given car being accessed at a certain time of the day.  The sensors are obviously going to give the most benefit during lower trip frequency times.  But depending on the set up, you can even get a reduced run time during the peak times in this car park (not every day, but some days there’ll be savings due to the random nature of when people take a car trip).

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 2.59.53 pm

After some sense checking I ran the simulation for different combinations of motion sensor parameters.  The focus was on:

  • The delay before the lamp is shut down after the motion sensor is activated (or re-activated)
  • The number of lamps per sensor (if you whole car park is wired to one sensor, you’re not going to get as much benefit)

The below chart shows the results.  It looks pretty clear that the most important attribute is the delay before the lights are shut down again.  Amazingly, with 10 lamps per sensor a 90% run time reduction could be achieved if the lamps only fired for a minute.  10 lamps per sensor is probably as sparsely as you’d want to space the sensors to make sure they fired when there was movement

Simulated Car Park Lighting Energy with Sensors

Pit Falls

The simulation is obviously not a real live thing so I want to note some possible pit falls.

  • I got lazy and didn’t model weekend days separately.  So the actual savings are probably greater than what I’ve reported above.
  • If you car park is full or big rodents that trigger motion sensors 24 hours a day, the savings won’t be achieved.
  • My “Shut off delay time (mins)” is actually the lamp run time from when the motion sensor is first fired during a particular event, not from when it was last fired during that event.  So for you to achieve the 1 minute shut-off delay, you’ll probably want the light to go down 5 or 10 seconds after there was no motion in an area.  Perhaps this would cancel out the additional savings you’d get from lower weekend trips.

Other Car Park Lighting Ideas

Although motion sensors in car parks are an absolute no-brainer, there are also other things that can be done to make car park lighting smarter, a few of which I’ll include below.

Lux sensors may also be utilised with dimmable lamps to ensure light levels over the requirements are not delivered and hence energy savings may be achieved due to lower average lamp power.  The benefit of lux sensors in underground car parks is limited however due to a lack of natural light.

A better coefficient of utilisation can be achieved with light coloured rooms (more reflectance, so better light utilisation from your lamps which means you’ll need less lamps).

The lamp itself should be considered carefully and in conjunction with the lighting controls.  The most efficient globe in the world may be the wrong choice if you need more of them than necessary.  Similarly, if it won’t handle being turned on and off all the time, that’s going to be a problem.

The light housing can also help if it’s got a nice reflective backing to disperse the light where it’s needed (down and sideways) instead of where it’s not (up).

Grid-tied VS Off-grid Solar PV systems

Introduction

With the tremendous uptake of residential solar PV installations all around the world, the next question that often comes to mind is: to stay grid connected or go off-grid? For most people who are concerned about environmental issues, they might be led to believe that completely weaning off our fossil fuel powered grid is the truest form of sustainable living. However, here at eTool we like to challenge people’s beliefs based on data from life-cycle analysis.

To start, let’s quickly look at the difference between the two systems.

Grid-tied

Grid-tied PV system

 

A grid-tied system is connected to the utility grid. In new systems, there is only one meter that measures both in-coming and out-going power to the house. Power generated from the solar panels goes through the inverter which converts DC to AC which then used throughout the house. Any left-over power that is not used goes out to the meter where it is measured then fed into the grid to be consumed elsewhere. This system has no on-site battery storage so any solar power that is not used at the time it is generated will be fed directly out to the grid. When no energy is generated by the solar panels such as at night or on overcast days, power will be drawn back from the grid to supply the house.

Off-grid

Off-grid PV system

 

An off-grid system means that the system has no connection to the grid at all. In this situation, battery storage is necessary in order to provide power to the house when there is no power generated by the PV system. An additional on-site generator may also be required as a backup in case the stored power runs out. In this system, the power from the solar panels goes through a charge controller or battery regulator then into the battery bank for storage. On demand, the power is drawn from the batteries through an inverter then to the house to be used. If the power stored in the batteries run out, a generator can be started to produce backup energy.

 

LCA Comparison

Carbon Intensive Grids

 

SYSTEM TYPESPECIFICATIONS
AU StandardStructure – timber + double brick
Cooking – Electric
HWS – Gas storage
HVAC – Airsource heat pump (MEPS ave)
Lighting – CFL
Refrigeration – AU average
Water – AU average

In order to compare the systems, we will use LCA to quantify the impacts in CO2e. We assume that all other factors are constant such as water, gas and the carbon intensity of the grid. The table above shows the building structure and appliance specifications for a standard Australian detached home. Only the PV systems will change in order to better compare the difference between grid-tied and off-grid.

Graph1

The graphs above shows the life-cycle carbon impact of a standard Australian home with no PV system installed. We can see that the life-cycle energy of the building takes up the largest portion of the overall impacts of the building. The graph on the right shows the end-use breakdown of the standard Australian household’s energy use.

Graph2

The blue column on the left in Graph 2 above is a standard Australian home with no PV. The red column is an off-grid system sized to provide 100% solar power throughout the year. This is a 15kW PV with about 100kWh of battery storage to provide backup power for 3 days while the green column is the grid-tied version with 15kW of PV without battery storage. The orange& dotted columns show the impact of a smaller off-grid 8.5kW PV system with 60kWh of battery storage. The dotted orange column has an additional backup diesel generator that provides 10% of the energy demand. The teal column on the right is the grid-tied equivalent with 8.5kW PV and no diesel backup or battery storage.

We can see that installing a PV system alone has a significant effect at reducing the CO2e impact of the building. Note that despite a near two-fold increase in the amount of PV, the life-cycle carbon savings in the off-grid system only has marginal improvement when compared to the grid-tied system. This is due to the high embodied impacts of the larger PV system which are underutilized in the off-grid system whereas in the grid-tied system all extra power generated by the over-sized system is fed into the grid.

Graph3

In the graph above, we compare the category breakdown of the 15kW PV systems versus the AU standard home, we can see that while the life-cycle energy use of the solar powered homes have dropped significantly, the recurring impacts on the other hand have increased due to the impacts related to replacing PV panels and batteries.

Low Carbon Intensity Grids

In areas with cleaner grids, in this example I’ve used the Tasmanian grid (even though it is still connected to the NEM) – is a grid-tied PV system still relevant?

Graph4

 

The graph above shows that although the proportion of savings is much less in a low-carbon grid, a grid-tied PV system still has a lower life-cycle CO2e impact compared to an off-grid system. In areas with cleaner grids, the embodied energy impact of the building becomes proportionately more important than the operational energy as shown in the graph below.

Graph5

 

Best Practice Design

How about a house that is designed by someone who knows what sustainability is about? Let say they designed using low-embodied energy materials and didn’t install any air-conditioners – how would such a house compare? The low-impact or ‘best practice’ design building assumes that the occupants are more sustainably conscious and try to reduce electricity demand as much as possible in the choice of appliances they will use and are more likely to build with low embodied impact materials such mud brick. A detailed list of specifications in the ‘best practice’ house are listed below while still assuming Australian averages for water and refrigeration energy use. Based on these specifications, the off-grid ‘best practice’ home will need 4kW of PV and 48kWh of battery storage assuming 10% of the energy demand to be provided by a diesel generator.

 

SYSTEM TYPESPECIFICATIONS
Best PracticeStructure – mud brick
Cooking – Wood
HWS – biomass
HVAC – ceiling fans+wood pellet heater
Lighting – LED
Refrigeration – AU average
Water – AU average
PV – 4kW
Off-grid Backup –  48kWh battery storage + diesel generator

The graphs below show the global warming impact of a ‘best practice’ home on an Australian average grid the embodied and operation energy breakdown and the carbon impacts on a low-carbon grid. Even though the overall life-cycle carbon impacts of the building has dropped significantly due to the ‘best practice’ design, the results still indicate that being grid-connected is better for the environment in both grid situations.
Graph6 Graph5 Graph4

 

 

Conclusion

In areas with carbon intensive grids such as Australia, it is important to help ‘clean up’ the grid by staying grid-connected with our PV systems. This is due to the fact that all the excess potential energy from off-grid PV panels is ‘wasted’ instead of captured to be used elsewhere. An off-grid setup will usually have a PV system that is large enough to meet most of the energy demand of the household throughout the year. This means that the system will be sized to produce enough power in winter but in summer when there is more daylight, the extra electricity generated by the system will be wasted.

A grid-tied system on the other hand is able to take advantage of an existing energy network and maximise the energy generation potential of their PV systems as any excess energy is fed back into the grid to be utilised elsewhere. This means that the embodied energy of the building can also be offset when the building produces more renewable energy than it consumes throughout its life.

A cleaner grid also means that other homes, offices and industries such as water desalination plants and manufacturers that use this cleaner electricity will be less carbon intensive. We all benefit from the knock-on effects of staying grid-connected.

For areas where the grid is already ‘clean’, the operational energy impacts become less significant from a carbon perspective but you’re still better to have grid-tied PV. Staying connected in a green-grid also helps avoid the additional embodied impacts from an oversized PV & battery storage system.

 

Graph9

Bear in mind that there are other resources and technologies that haven’t been modelled here which may provide better solutions by taking the best of both systems. For example, hybrid systems combine the advantages of grid connection with battery storage to help moderate grid loads. To provide an efficient solution to large scale energy distribution, ‘Smart Grid’ systems that monitor and control the grid’s energy distribution and production is the way to go. Combine smart grids with hybrid solar systems and the economics and efficiency of renewable energy distribution and supply grid will be greatly improved. Nevertheless, the underlying message still points to the fact that staying grid-tied is the key in order to stay most sustainably relevant today and in the future.

Tesla most recently announced their low-cost ‘Powerwall’ battery storage system which will affect the current PV market.

 

 

{#1} Why Love LCD? – Design Improvements

We love Life Cycle Design (LCD), which is why we’ve made it the core of our business.

On this 2015 Earth Day, we’re launching our ‘Love LCD’ campaign where we’ll be asking our team, and anyone who wants to join, why they love Life Cycle Design. There are lots of reasons to love it, and we hope that we can show you just how great it is.

Why Love LCD?

Reason #1: Life Cycle Assessment allows you to identify the sometimes surprising aspects of a design that can be improved.

Watch Pat Hermon talk about why he loves LCD:

 

Why do you love Life Cycle Design? Share it with us!

Sustainable Design Principles 101 – Multi-Residential Australia

This post is designed to guide design teams during early design stages prior to any form of drawing mark-up. It describes a pathway of continuous building improvement through easy low hanging fruit strategies to incorporation of renewable technologies and advanced design principles. As sustainability becomes engrained in the construction industry it is important that stakeholders maintain an understanding of what the market expects both presently and going forwards into a low carbon future.

Capture

Achieving Targets – The Basics

Generally a multi-residential apartment building built to BCA standards (electric hot water, 6 star Nathers and standard air conditioner) will have approximately the same impacts as the benchmark average dwelling (4.2 tonnes/person/year). They tend to be smaller (less space to heat and cool), have longer design lives and high occupancy (reducing the impacts on a per person per year basis). The chart below represents the life cycle Impacts of a typical multi-residential apartment building.

Capture 2

Typically there are a number of “low hanging fruit” design improvements that are low cost and low risk to implement. The measures focus on operational energy which generally makes up 70%-80% of the total life cycle impacts. The measures are detailed below for a standard apartment building with a mix of one and 2 bed apartments, please note these are indicative figures and will vary depending on final design, density, services and materials used.

Sustainability Measure

Typical percentage improvement
Gas hot water system25%-30%
Lighting motion sensors/timers in common areas6%-8%
Apartment Energy Monitoring2%-4%
Behavioural Change Programs2%-4%
Low flow shower heads (5l/minute)1%-2%
Limit refrigeration space to less than 750mm0.6%-0.7%
Ventilated refrigeration cabinetry0.4%-5%
Total approximate37%-45%

 

With implementation of the above measures the building will achieve approximately a 37% to 45% improvement sitting at a Silver medal rating. To achieve greater improvements renewable technologies are needed.

 

Renewable TechnologyTypical percentage improvement
Solar Hot Water (1m2 per dwelling)3%-4%
Solar PV (1kW/ 10m2 per apartment)5%-7%

 

The majority of medium rise flat roofs can easily accommodate the above with room left over for other elements such as flues and skylights. The low hanging fruit combined with some renewable generation will typically achieve around a 45-55% improvement.

 

 Achieving Targets – Best Practise

For higher ratings to be achieved, there will need to be upwards of 1 kW and per apartment and over 10m2 of roof space available alongside the measures detailed above. This can require careful consideration of roof designs from the outside and in some instances, consideration of options off-site such as community owned solar PV farms may be required.

Renewable TechnologyTypical percentage improvement
Solar PV (2kW/ 20m2 per apartment)10%-14%
Solar PV (3kW/ 30m2 per apartment)15%-20%
Solar PV (4kW/ 40m2 per apartment)20%-28%

 

Roof Orientation for PV:

Capture3Once a residential building gets above 4 storeys, or a commercial building gets above 3 storeys, it will likely end up in a position where the solar technologies that are required are constrained by the roof space that is available. In this situation the design team should take roof design into consideration from an early stage and optimise it for solar panel installations. The following guidelines should be considered:

  • By installing panels “flat” on a roof, many moor panels can fit because they do not need separating for shading.
  • Shading from surrounding objects and buildings is an important consideration however it is rarely a problem in multi-residential buildings taller than their surroundings. PV can be very worthwhile even if partially shaded and can may still deliver significant carbon savings compared to other measures.
  • For designing roofs in this situation, the following considerations should be made.  Note that the below loss figure for varying orientation and pitch are applicable to Perth (latitude of 32 degrees):
  • The orientation of the roof can significantly aid the amount of PV or Solar Hot Water that can be installed in the diagram above

– North facing panels at 32 degree pitch gives optimum energy gain over the whole year (100%)

– Dropping pitch to 5 degrees only results in a loss of approximately 9% (91% of optimal generation)

  • If panels are to be pitched at lower than 10 degrees, consideration should be given to at least annual cleaning until it is proven that soiling is not effecting generation.
  • If possible, avoid hips in roofs as these significantly reduce the amount of PV that can be installed.  It is far better to pitch the roof in two directions only.  Even pitching north and south in two directions is likely to result in a better overall result than in four directions.  The south facing panels may generate less power per panel than the east or west, but more panels will be able to be installed because hips won’t have to be avoided and this will more than make up for the slight loss of efficiency in south facing panels.
  • Very wide gutters can significantly affect the available roof space for solar collectors.  Consider overhanging the roof structure over a required large gutter.
  • Protruding services that break up the roof space should be designed if possible on the south side of the building.  This reduces the losses due to shade for solar collectors across the whole roof.
  • Roofs with multiple heights are complex due to overshadowing.  If possible avoid this.

For solar hot water systems the same rules apply however slighting more consideration may be required to match demand with pitch, so a higher pitch to meet the higher winter water heating demand.  This is not such an issue with PV as it can be fed into the grid when generation is higher than demand.

 

Advanced Design

Some of the recommendations listed below represent paradigm shifts not only in actual construction but also in the marketing and sales strategies that may be required to ensure a developments viability. There may be times when it makes more sense to invest the money that would go into some of these expensive onsite solutions to other local projects that can deliver more value and higher CO2e savings. Examples of this may include Investments in street light upgrades, existing housing retrofits, solar panels on local schools and buildings, behaviour programs, community farms, bicycle infrastructure etc.

Functionality

The more people a building can house the less impact per person that building will have. Furthermore for every person that is housed in a sustainable building that takes one more person out of the average, unsustainable building – moving society towards a low carbon economy faster.

Typical multi-residential buildings have approximately 50% of the total floor area dedicated to actual living space, the rest tends to get tied up in common areas, car parks, plant rooms etc. By minimising the common areas you reduce impacts on two fronts: living area available for the same volume of materials, and reducing the operational energy required to light and ventilate the common spaces (this can typically take up to 15% of the total CO2e emissions).

 

ratio net dwellable area/gross Floor AreaLife Cycle Reduction in Emissions
45%
50%-3.1%
55%-5.6%
60%-7.7%
70%-11.0%
80%-13.5%

 

There are numerous ways that common areas can be reduced:

Capture 8

Space efficiencies can also be gained by increasing the number of stairwells whilst reducing the common walkway areas.

Capture4

Although stairs are likely to be the more expensive option, this could be recouped by adding the spare hallway space into each apartment, in the example above this provides an extra 8.75m2 per apartment.

Typology (Beds and bathrooms)

Environmental impacts can be reduced through increasing the occupancy of the apartments themselves. Whilst 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartments are fashionable, with good design that (rarely used) spare bathroom could be a third bedroom instead. This provides an increase in the overall sustainable living space of the building without impacting on the floor area being constructed

 Materials

In many ways embodied carbon is equally (and perhaps more) important a consideration than operational energy. eTool LCAs will typically assume current grid intensities throughout the 100+ year predicted design life of a building. This means operational energy makes up around 80% of the total impacts. In reality over the next 100 years the grid will decarbonise and operational energy will contribute much less over time. The embodied carbon in materials on the other hand is locked in from the year the material is manufactured and transported to the site. There are many low impact alternatives to common materials in construction. Timber and CLT can be used in place of concrete and steel. Where concrete is necessary fly-ash or blast furnaces slag blends should be incorporated, these are waste products that can directly replace a proportion of the concrete thereby reducing its impacts.

graph 1

Timber veneers and plywood should be avoided due to the high impact of the glues and resins used in these products. Plasterboard also has very high impacts. Alternatives such as plain hardwood, bamboo or MDF represent significant savings. IF plasterboard is to be used 6mm sheets should be preferred to 12 mm sheets with acoustic requirements met through insulation which is typically low in CO2e emissions.

graph 2

Carpets (especially wool) should be avoided with cork or polished concrete finish preferable. If absolutely necessary carpets should be dark coloured (to avoid replacement through soiling) and plant based materials such as jute and sisal should be specified that have natural/non-synthetic rubber backing.

graph 3

Lighting

There tends to be little difference in terms of environmental benefit between CFL lights and L.E.D lighting Increasing natural light levels using solar-tubes, skylights or similar means less use of artificial lighting energy. Specifying lighter matte colours to surfaces such as the balcony, ceiling and walls will bounce light deeper into the dwelling thus increasing natural lighting. Light shelves in windows is another passive way to divert and bounce light deeper into the dwelling. Similar systems using adjustable louvres can also be used. Providing translucent shading material in addition to heavier curtains allow the option of diffused daylight to penetrate whilst maintaining privacy. The top of the windows is where light penetrates deepest into the dwelling, so it is important to ensure that this part of the window is not obstructed by drapery or blinds. Translucent partitions between rooms also allow light to be drawn into deeper rooms. Clerestory windows also provide a method of introducing more natural light into central rooms.  Ideally these should be utilised with higher ceilings and high reflectance surfaces in order to encourage light to penetrate.  In order to prove the value of these initiatives a daylighting simulation should be undertaken to ensure expense is not incurred for no benefit.  This will likely make this recommendation hard to justify economically (there will be many far easier wins elsewhere in the building.

Gas cookers over electric

In regions with fossil fuel dominated electricity grids such as WA, gas represents a large advantage over electricity for providing energy to cook with.  This is due to the heat and electricity losses associated with distributed power.  Burning the fuel (gas) at the source eliminates these losses and is a more efficient way of using the fuel. The majority of gas cookers sold today include safety features that automatically turn off the gas when no flame is present. Rinnai has also developed the ‘inner flame’ technology that produces a flame that is directed inwards which is about 27% more efficient than standard gas stoves. The drawback to moving to gas cooking is that a gas pipeline may need to be installed. If the implementation of this strategy is outside of the project budget the developer may offer the strategy as an upgrade package for purchasers. This eliminates the need for upfront capital while promoting best practices and educating the public.

Or Induction cooktops

An all induction cook-top is an alternative that could deliver carbon savings over a standard electric cook-top.  Induction cook-tops work by transferring electrical energy through induction from a coil directly to the magnetic pan. Only the area in contact with the coil heats up and therefore the cooker can be up to 12% more efficient than a standard electric conduction cooker.  The controls on an induction cooker are also far more precise giving a greater range of cooking techniques.

Car Park Ventilation

By applying a detailed engineering design to the car park ventilation systems, it is expected that the fan run times could be considerably cut down especially when natural ventilation is utilised.  Computational fluid dynamics would be utilised in this technique to determine how to best move air through the car park to maintain acceptable CO2 levels with minimum energy demand.  Gains may also be achieved in reduced ducting.  At least a 20% saving in ventilation may be achieved.

Biodigesters

Biodigesters turn food and or human waste into gas that can be used in cooking. Although not well established in western countries this technology has been used for hundreds of years in China and India. Communal or individual systems exist that may be incorporated into an innovative building design.

 Appliances

The appliances that go into the building can make a significant proportion of the recurring impacts.  Modern appliances tend to have fairly small warranty periods in relation to the lifespan of a building.  TVs in particular can often not last more than 10 years.  Ensuring that appliances are purchased second hand and those that are purchased new have a long warranty and are kept for as long as possible can provide significant carbon savings.  In this recommendation we have assumed each appliances lasts twice as long as the standard warranty. Where appliances are installed they should also be of the higher MEPS rating bands for energy efficiency.

Thermal Performance

Modern 6 star dwellings in Western Australia need very little in the form of heating/cooling. The developer with sustainability in mind will provide only ceiling fans for cooling and renewable biomass pellet heaters for heating. Bio Where air conditioners are provided they should be single split units which can obtain higher efficiencies generally than multi splits. A COP/EER of 5 is exemplary.

Tri-generation, deep geothermal and shallow ground source heat pumps can also be appropriate in very large developments with high demands such as precincts with swimming pools. However they entail very high outgoing capital costs and the environmental benefit should be considered carefully against other technologies.

Swimming Pools

Most importantly swimming pools should be appropriate for the size of the development. Proportionally 50m2 pool shared amongst 100 dwellings will have 100x fewer impacts per dwelling than the same size pool provided for a single dwelling. Where pools are installed they should ideally be naturally heated through ambient air and install pool covers that contain the heat when the pool is not in use. Typically including a pool cover which can operate automatically or manually for 8hrs per day during the pools closed hours has a 28% saving in the pools heating energy demand. Pool pumps efficiency should also be considered carefully, high-efficiency pool pumps of up to 9 stars MEPs rating are currently available on the market.

 Hot Water

Alongside solar thermal technology and low flow shower heads, an opportunity exists to warm the inlet temperature of the water by using a heat exchanger. Water exiting apartments in the sewerage drains will have a higher temperature than the normal inlet temperature of water coming into the building from the mains, particularly in winter.  By passing the inlet water over the warmer outgoing water, the temperature can be increased. A 5% reduction in energy demand of the hot water system can be achieved.

For communal systems there will be significant heat losses in the pipe carrying the hot water around the building as well as from the individual water storage tanks. Based on the conservative assumptions of a 25mm pipe with 25mm of insulation (125mm total diameter) the heat losses are estimated to increase the hot water demand by 10%. Correctly installed 50mm pipework insulation could therefore reduce the losses through hot water pipe by approximately 5%.

 

eTool

The door is always open at eTool for questions surrounding design decisions. If a project is in concept phase we are happy to sit down for an hour and discuss potential strategies and targets. Full targeting sessions are also available at low cost to determine more accurately the costs involved in achieving design aspirations. Following this our full LCA will provide the most detailed environmental assessment available.

 

[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 portia@etoolglobal.com and we’ll arrange another session.

 

ArchiBlox Creates Australia’s First Carbon Positive Pre-Fab Home

Going beyond carbon zero.

Archiblox’s latest project is a carbon positive modular home that boasts a difficult to attain eTool Platinum rating. Achieving a platinum rating means the design achieved a 90 per cent overall improvement in CO2e emissions compared to the Australian benchmark along with a minimum of 60 per cent improvement in each category (embodied carbon and operational carbon).

What does it mean to be carbon positive?

A net carbon positive outcome means the building offsets more carbon than it uses in construction and operation throughout the life of the building.

Check out the following press about ArchiBlox’s carbon positive home and if you are in Melbourne, you can check the house out at the Sustainable Festival running until 1 March.

Australia’s first carbon positive pre-fab home– SBS News

Can you compete with a carbon positive prefab home?” – Architecture & Design

“World’s first carbon positive prefab house” Green Magazine

“World’s first carbon positive prefab house?” – ArchitectureAu

“The World’s First Carbon-Positive prefab house” – Dwell Magazine

“Prefabricated house in Melbourne’s City Square can produce more energy than it uses” – Dezeen Magazine

Sun Room in the Modular Design. Click to view the full case study >

Sun Room in the Modular Design. Click to view the full case study >

 

Research Shows Sustainable Apartments are a Priority for Perth Community

Research conducted by Psaros in partnership with the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) and the Property Council has indicated that the Perth community rates sustainability, public transport and walkability as some of the top priorities concerning the future of the Perth inner suburbs.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said

“This ground-breaking research dispels some deeply-held myths that have been holding Perth back from becoming more sustainable, more affordable and more liveable.”

“Our capital city is shaking off its ‘dullsville’ image, but there is a lot more that needs to be done. In particular, the research shows that high quality eco-friendly developments around transport links are strongly supported by the majority of Perth residents.”

“While there can at times be vocal opposition to individual developments, there is much broader and stronger support for increased density than planners and Local Councils might think. This is great news for our environment. For every sustainable apartment that is built, less energy is used, less waste is created, less natural bushland is destroyed and more trips are taken by public transport.”

Below is a quick summary by Psaros of some of the findings of the report. You can read the full report here.

 


 

Research

Undertaken by leading social research provider Ipsos between 4 – 17 June 2014. Respondents who live within 10km range of the Perth CBD were recruited in an online survey and focus group analysis. An even distribution of voters between 18 and 65+ with majority being single or two parent families with kids and older couples without kids. Final sample size n+524.

Main findings

There is very strong support for more medium & higher density apartment-style developments around transport hubs (71% support) and in inner areas (68% support).

 

The top three priorities for Perth’s future are;

•    an increase in public transport (train, light rail, buses) (95% support)
•    more eco-friendly buildings that generate their own power, collect rainwater and use less energy (89% support)
•    well-designed, safer bike paths to get to work and other places (86% support)

The most appropriate housing types for Perth city are:

•    a mix of mid-sized apartments, townhouses & retail / cafés (like Leederville and Northbridge) (79% support)

•    a mix of high-rise, town houses and parks (Like South Perth) (71% support)

Over half of residents (55%) would support increased building height limits to allow for higher density around transport links and 50% would support relaxing building height limits if developments are eco-friendly; .

The majority of respondents (73%) do not believe that the benefits of a separate house and garden outweigh the benefits of inner city living.

The majority of respondents (69%) do not consider low density living in detached single housing to be a more affordable option .

Perceived benefits of apartment living include:

•    easier to maintain (71% agree, 8% disagree)
•    reduce the need for land clearing (70% agree, 8% disagree)
•    lower environmental impact than detached housing (54% agree, 17% disagree)
•    save on energy costs (44% agree, 15% disagree)
•    save on car running costs (42% agree, 23% disagree)

3 in 5 inner city residents are likely to move house in the next 5 years; 73% would consider living in medium density housing and 50% in higher density housing.

2014 Was Our Most Excellent Year Yet – Thank You!

We’ve come a long way over the last four years, and the last twelve months have been particularly exciting. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients, partners, affiliates, supporters, friends and family – thank you!  We’d like to share with you some of our achievements over the last year and the exciting things we have planned for 2015.

Firstly and most importantly, we are ecstatic to announce that since the beginning of eTool, we have helped designers avoid over:

450,000 tonnes of CO2e!

That’s equivalent to planting 2,713,863 trees or taking 125,642 cars off the road! Our number one metric at eTool is reducing CO2 emissions, so we’re thrilled to see the number of CO2e saved increasing each and every month. 

As we continue to make eToolLCD the best of the best, we celebrate:

A few project & client achievements

    12     Green Star jobs completed and submitted with one achieving a 6-star rating and multiple achieving 5-star

     42     new clients such as Brookfield Multiplex, Mirvac, Lendlease & Broad, to name a few.

     9      HIA GreenSmart 2014 awards won by eTool clients

We’d like to especially congratulate long-standing eTool client Psaros, for their outstanding leadership in sustainability and their achievement of winning a 2014 Banksia Sustainability Award!

A few other (slightly quirky) eTool achievements by the numbers

      0     kilometers driven by cars to work by eTool employees (we opt for bicycles instead)

       1      CO2e saving plan developed to pump poo from Perth to farms (CSI talk TBC…)
       1      fantastic ‘Life Cycle Design Explained‘ video
    102    trees planted at the Bruce family farm by the team
     120    pages printed (hopefully after convincing more clients, 2015 will be 0!)

    171     attendees to eTool “saving the world” events (i.e. CSI talks & Great Debate)

     185    hours spent at the lunch table philosophising about how to save the world


2015: It’ll Be a Big One.

We’ve got some exciting things planned for the new year and we’re jumping out of our seats in anticipation. Here are just a few of our ambitions for the new year:

eToolLCD compliance with UK’s BREEAM IMPACT & DGNB (German Green Building Council) 
Watch this spacethis is huge. Delivering additional functionality that allows compliance with international green building rating systems is part of our continuing strategy of making eToolLCD the best and most globally accessible whole-building LCA software around.

Reaching the far corners of the world with LEED 
US-based LEED is used not only by the United States, but also in many other countries such as Brazil, Canada and India, just to name a few. Working on more LEED projects and showing consultants the power of eToolLCD means more carbon saved in even more parts of the world, something we always strive for.A zero-waste office
We want to make sure we walk the talk in the office in all areas, so starting 2015, the eTool office will become zero-waste. All employees will be responsible for disposing of their own waste with the intention of encouraging more mindful thought processes around product packaging and food waste. Wish us luck!


From all of us at eTool, we’d like to thank you for being a part of our journey. Stay tuned as more exciting things unfold in the coming months…Here’s to 2015!– Richard, Alex, Fei, Portia, Pat & Henrique