RapidLCA App for Housing

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

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

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

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

Download the RapidLCA presentation here.

Please see the below videos that explain the overview and present a couple case studies:

 

Introduction:

 

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

 

eToolLCD Timeline

eTool has risen from humble beginnings to become a global force in low carbon design.  This wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t taken the quality of our software seriously.  The timeline below captures just some of the eToolLCD achievements and milestones.

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  • eTool Quality System ISO 9001 Certified

    eTool Quality System ISO 9001 Certified

    Following on from our initial ISO 9001 certification in 2019 eTool recently successfully pass the first year surveillance audit.  Compass Assurance Services found no major non-conformances and the audit report may be downloaded here. eTool’s 9001 certificate can be downloaded here and the certification is registered with JAS-ANZ.

  • eTool Quality System ISO 9001 Certified

    eTool Quality System ISO 9001 Certified

    eTool has always taken quality seriously, from our earliest beginnings we actively sought feedback on our product and services and have embedded continuous improvement into our DNA.  Earlier this year we decided to formalise our Quality Management by employing Compass Assurance Services to certify our systems against ISO 9001:2015. eTool founder and..Read More

  • PAS 2080 Audit – Eiffage Kier

    PAS 2080 Audit – Eiffage Kier

    As part of their ongoing quality management process, HS2 joint venture Effiage Kier (EK) contracted Lloyd’s  Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) to undertake a PAS2080 audit on their GHG reporting, processes, systems and tools.  PAS 2080 is an environmental protection standard for carbon management in infrastructure and includes requirements for effective governance..Read More

  • eToolLCD used for EPD Australasia Study

    eToolLCD used for EPD Australasia Study

    eToolCLD has been used by experienced Life Cycle Assessment practitioner Andrew Moore of Life Cycle Logic to complete a whole building Environmental Product Declaration.  The study was independently reviewed by Rob Rouwette of start2see Pty Ltd and was registered with EPD Australasia.  This is one the first whole building EPDs completed..Read More

  • eTool Engaged by HS2

    eTool Engaged by HS2

    After an extensive and comprehensive tender selection process eToolLCD was selected by HS2 to measure, reduce and report on carbon emissions, materials efficiency and wider embedded environmental impacts.  This demonstrated eToolLCD’s successful application to the infrastructure sector as well as the maturity of our software, security, commercial stability and quality assurance. HS2 is Europe’s..Read More

  • BRE Impact

    BRE and IMPACT Compliance

    BRE (UK) administer the Integrated Material Profile And Costing Tool (IMPACT) specification for building LCA tools which is understood to be the first software certification system by which eToolLCD could be formally externally assessed. The IMPACT compliance route was opened to developers in October 2013. In 2014 eTool signed a non-disclosure..Read More

  • EN15978 Alignment

    EN15978 Alignment

    eTool released a product roadmap in late 2012. One of the first large development projects for eTool LCA was alignment with international standards. This work was undertaken from August to November 2013. EN15978 alignment was achieved with our late 2013 release which also brought all remaining eToolLCD calculations into compliance..Read More

  • AusIndustry Grant and Third Party Review

    AusIndustry Grant and Third Party Review

    In 2012 AusIndustry awarded eTool with a grant to complete a full commercial proof of concept solution for global release. Under this project eTool completed a second independent “third party” review process. This time internationally regarded carbon accounting practitioner Ben Rose, from “Greenhouse Gas Calculator” was commissioned to undertake the..Read More

  • Australian Universities for Review eToolLCD

    Australian Universities for Review eToolLCD

    From an early stage of development we were acutely aware of the need to ensure our software was accurate, repeatable, transparent and audit-able. At the time our release there were no available certification processes for LCA software. We approached two universities in Western Australia with highly regarded schools focussing on..Read More

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Life Cycle Design of Buildings: An Introduction & Application in Green Star (recorded webinar)

The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is gaining greater recognition in sustainability assessment. An LCA credit is embedded as a core credit in the Green Star rating tools Design and As Built v1.2, Interiors v1.2 and Communities v1.1.
Points may now be easier to achieve for some projects provided there’s early engagement of LCA consultants. Points allocation have been adjusted with operational energy reductions capped. Further Additional Reporting initiatives were added with extra points available.
– Design and As Built v1.2 – up to 7 points
– Interiors v1.2 – up to 19 points
– Communities v1.1 – Up to 5 points

This recorded webinar covers the basics of LCA, the eToolLCD software, and how it applies to Green Star – LCA credit.

New eToolLCD Pricing

eToolLCD subscription prices have been recently updated. Please read on for more info.

Why have we updated pricing?
For a few reasons. We have noticed a strong trend where our subscribers are each (on average) conducting more LCAs per year. We wanted to ensure our pricing remained competitive and predictable so have added some plans that reduce the per project fees. For example, the new specialist subscription has no per-project fees and the new enterprise pricing gives a 40% discount on per-project fees. In addition we wanted to simplify our offering and hence dropped our “Freelancer” plan.

How can users benefit upgrading to new plans?
As well as reduced per-project fees the new Enterprise subscription and the updated Specialist subscription include new functionality with improved collaboration, reporting, user admin/management and the soon to be released Revit Plugin. Consultant subscribers will also enjoy additional Life Cycle Cost functionality, and automated BREEAM 2018 reporting that’s coming out soon. All round eToolLCD is getting better for users, and watch this space, more to come!

Why the US Dollar pricing?
The use of eToolLCD is expanding globally and some of our users provided feedback that the Aussie $ pricing was a unusual. So we’ve now set our pricing in a currency that everybody recognises.

How will this affect existing subscribers?
eTool is “grandfathering” existing eToolLCD subscriptions so you won’t lose any functionality or have to pay any more or less until June 30th 2019 when we’ll ask existing subscribers to migrate to one of the new plans. Please note, if your subscription lapses you’ll need to transition to a new plan.

Who is the new Enterprise Plan for?
Organisations that have a number of consultants using eToolLCD, or developers and builders who want to track the performance of their portfolio is projects. We have a range of features for this plan that will make Life Cycle Design very easy, scaleable and transparent for these businesses. Please get in touch if you’d like more info.

Create an account or access eToolLCD.

Related articles:

How to ingrain LCA to your design process

How to Price Construction Life Cycle Assessment Services

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!

 

How to Price Construction Life Cycle Assessment Services

With the general interest in LCA growing rapidly and ramp-up in LCA credits within Breeam NC 2018 imminent, many of our users are asking us how much work is involved in completing an LCA, how long it takes and what they should be charging their clients for undertaking the work. eTool has always maintained a very transparent approach towards our own pricing structure and we thought it might be useful to share our thoughts on pricing LCA consultancy services.  We have highlighted 3 different approaches for costing an LCA described in detail below.

  • Value to the Developer –  This is the approach eTool take for costing an LCA.  We charge a fee that attempts to reflect the value that the LCA provides to the design team, developer and the planet.  In some circumstances, the consulting work to deliver an LCA of a large apartment block may actually be similar to that of a single house. However, the LCA will provide learning outcomes that can have a much higher impact in terms of environmental benefits or life cycle cost reductions.  Let us take the example of two projects in the UK, a large apartment building with 120 dwellings and a construction budget of £30,000,000 and a small single dwelling development with a budget of £150,000.   An attractive strategy identified in the single dwelling may reduce greenhouse gasses by a total of 100tCO2e and also save the occupants £5,000 in life-cycle costs.  In the apartment building, however, a similar strategy may save 10,000tCO2e and over £1,000,000 in life-cycle costs.  Similarly, if a developer has a specific environmental target, the stakes are much higher in the apartment project.  The cost of abatement is quite critical and can severely increase capital costs if not well understood.  For example, if a 50% reduction of life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions is sought, employing the best strategies on the cost abatement curve may cost the developer £500,000 by targeting the lowest cost of abatement, but employing strategies without this consideration may cost them £1,500,000 to achieve the same environmental outcome.   So regardless of the level of effort in the two projects, there’s a much higher potential value that the apartment stakeholders get from a quality LCA and LCC study.  We like this approach as it aligns the consultant’s motives with both the planet and our customer.  The consultant’s role is to deliver value, so a higher fee should yield more value.  This may be realised by greater effort in identifying low impact strategies and optioneering to ensure meaningful reductions in environmental and cost impacts.
  • Bottom Up – Determining the billable hours to complete the work and charging the consultants the hourly rate plus a profit margin.  The total hours spent on an LCA can vary dramatically depending on the following:
    1. Design stage.  The more detailed the information the more complex the modelling becomes.  A “Target setting” LCA will have no more than a design brief as input information and a basic model may take an hour to complete with another few hours of optimising strategies, a stage 2 LCA may have more detailed information available and take half a day to a day and a detailed stage 4 LCA may take a further day to 2 days to complete.
    2. Quality of information available.  Often the most onerous part of any modelling process is gathering the information required.  If this is orderly and well organised then completing the LCA should be very simple. Cost plans and BIM models can contain good levels of information but are these freely available or will it take months to track them down? Are they complete or missing crucial bits of information? Sometimes it can be quicker and easier to measure up drawings manually rather than spending days chasing down an elusive bill of quantities which may not actually exist!
    3. Design Team Engagement. How involved are the design team in the LCA process?  Will they require optioneering for many small details in the design or are they only interested in some basic high-level results?  More engagement is great and very rewarding for the LCA practitioner but can take time.  If the client is only looking for the bare minimum required to award credits under BREEAM then the LCA may be completed very quickly using the eTool automated reports.
    4. Project Management and Margins.  You want to leave room in the scope for unexpected design changes, complex design elements and of course margin. Don’t forget that for LCA to become mainstream we all want this to be a profitable exercise as well!
    5. The LCA software that you use! Choosing the tool most appropriate for your task is of course very important.  For simple embodied carbon calculations on a single material then a simple spreadsheet (or open use eTool) would suffice. For a full whole-of-building-whole-of-life LCA with multiple environmental indicators then dedicated tools will be far more cost and time effective.  Our door is always open to help you understand the full functionality of eToolLCD. Our unique template system, strategy and option recording and automated reporting are just a few features that enable not only the quick building of an LCA model but detailed and in-depth design analysis for effective feedback to the project team. Why not come along to our next eTooLLCD training event and become a registered eTool LCA practitioner. Join our newsletter to stay informed about eToolLCD webinars, updates and training.
  • Top down: What is the market rate for delivering the LCA?  Often it is a case of testing the waters to understand how much the market is willing to pay for the service and matching the price and level of work accordingly. We have seen practitioner LCA quotes ranging from £3k to over £30k!!  If the user is really enjoying the LCA work they may match the price to be competitive with whatever alternative BREEAM strategy is being considered. Considering BREEAM for example, any design effort that equates to over £2,ooo per credit is often considered a costly strategy (project dependent).  Can your competitors deliver the LCA for this fee if so what added value could you bring beyond their offering?  Alternatively, consider how can you streamline your service to get your client excited about engaging the power of LCA no matter the design stage.  For example, we targeted early stage design with a “Target Setting” LCA service which costs under £2000 and is aimed at very early stage design feedback.  Developers are happy with that service but would be very reluctant to engage in a full LCA study that early in the project.  We can deliver this service to an acceptable accuracy by employing whole building templates and high-level strategy optioneering.  The design team gets quality, quantified feedback on possible low impact strategies and can embed these in the early geometry.

Determining the fee is of course only half of the story.  Making sure the client understands the value that the LCA is bringing to the design service is equally important.  A client who understands the true benefits of LCA; a performance-based design which is driving innovation to deliver quantified savings against science-based targets, is the client you really want to work with! For more on adding value through LCA take a look at my blog post and Henriques webinar.

Why not come along to our next webinar or training events and develop a deep understanding of whats involved in LCA modelling from scratch over 1 day.