Our first step of course was to prioritise the improvements which was quite a task. Although we would love to press the magic button and fulfil the “holy grail” of sustainable design (3D optimisation of thermal performance and embodied impacts of materials) baby steps are required.
We asked you guys what you wanted to see; surveys went out to past clients who we have conducted LCAs for, and also our users (who are growing in number and geographical diversity every day).
The key enhancements that people flagged for us were:
- More reporting functionality (particularly involving costs)
- More environmental indicators (not just carbon and energy use)
- More transparent user interface (simpler, clearer)
- More templates, materials and equipment options in our libraries
So this is where we’ve been focussing our efforts.
If you log into eTool V2, you’ll see many features aimed at tackling the above key enhancements, and we’re not done yet! We will be continuing development on V2 until September.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s been implemented:
- A better materials categorisation system and over 50 new materials to make selection easier.
- Ability for materials manufacturers to submit their own materials for listing in eTool LCA.
- Addition of new environmental impact categories (see this listed in the current release, we’re currently populating the data bases so these will become functional over time).
- Default costs for all materials, equipment, grids and energy sources. As well as the existing detailed carbon and energy metrics, you now also get an LCA cost estimation by only entering in quantities of materials, equipment run time and operational energy.
- Financial performance comparison chart for buildings to highlight maintenance and operational cost benefits or excesses.
- Improved user interface for templates, and allowing “nested” templates for much faster LCA projects.
- Share LCAs with other users.
- More transparent and editable distance calculations for materials.
- Annual energy cost summary.
- Additional grids (all Australian grids now entered).
- Expression builder for some fields e.g. you can now build a template for operational energy that takes the number of occupants and fully enclosed building area into consideration within a formula to calculate your energy demand.
- Improved calculations and coefficients for better accuracy.
- Ability to calculate operational water consumption.
And what’s still to come before we wind up development in September:
- More reports!
- Additional Environmental Impact intensities (e.g. embodied water, toxicity etc)
- Regional LCI databases (data availability / access pending).
- Ability to add custom distribution grids.
- Still more templates, materials, equipment, distribution grids etc.