eTool thoroughly believes in the science of LCA and is committed to following international standards for reporting results. We also recognise that many people are more inclined to concise information summaries in the format of certificates or ratings. For this reason we developed a rating system that summarises the LCA performance of your building and chose a medal system to reward best practice design.
True to LCA standards, we measure the performance of buildings against a benchmark, and the medals are awarded according to the carbon emissions reduction for the improved designs. Our benchmarks are “average” buildings of like utility, in a similar climate zone to the building being assessed. For example, if assessing a new home, we will choose a residential benchmark in the same climatic zone as the building being assessed.

The all important functional units then come into play to allow fair comparison between building life spans and size. For example, a residential buliding will have its carbon emissions reduction measured per year per occupant, where as a commercial building will be measured per year per square meter. Longer design lives and increased functionality are therefore rewarded in eTool ratings.

The ratings system is summarised below:

Bronze MedalSaving of up to 30% equivalent green house gas emissions measured in mass of CO2 equivalent measured against the applicable benchmark
Silver Medal30 to 60% Saving
Gold Medal60 to 90% Saving
Platinum MedalMore than 90% Saving. In addition, to receiving an overall platinum rating, a gold medal must be achieved in both operational and embodied carbon.

Getting an overall platinum medal is a very difficult feat. This is due to the difficulty in significantly reducing your embodied impacts. Our lifestyles have become so accustomed to externalising environmental damage through the indirect use of cheap fossil fuel energy, we rarely spare a thought for the impact of our expenditure on goods, even if we are quite conscious of our home or transport related energy use.

To date, eTool has only awarded one overall platinum medal for a building project. In this case, they were able to achieve the result by preserving the majority of the structure, it was a residential renovation with extension. Other methods of achieving low embodied impacts include:

  • Extending design life or functionality
  • Use of recycled materials
  • Re-use of materials
  • Low carbon materials

For more detail on low carbon design principles, consider an eTool training session which we are now running online.

Please contact us for more information.

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