eToolLCD Certification Service (Third Party Review)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certification Process:

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

BREEAM Third Party Verification

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

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

The deliverables are as follows:

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

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

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

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

The new London Plan – How to meet its requirements

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

eToolLCD GLA Approved

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

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

The London Plan – Overview

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

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

Policy SI 2: Minimise Greenhouse gas emissions

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

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

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

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

Policy SI 7:  Reducing waste and supporting the circular economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) How performance will be monitored and reported

Referable applications

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

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

When to submit a Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessment

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

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

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

  • Pre-application 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-application stage

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

Planning submission stage

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

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

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

Post-Construction stage

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

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

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

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

eTool Webinar (Youtube)

 

References

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What methodology should be used?

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

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

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

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

EN-15978-Diagram

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

What about materials and products?

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

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

Grid decarbonisation

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

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

References:

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