Posts

Big News for Low Carbon Infrastructure

eTool achieved an IMPORTANT MILESTONE in March 2022 and we’d like to share some GOOD news with you:

Approval of eToolLCD by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia

eToolLCD (v18) has received official ISC Approval as ‘equivalent’ to the Infrastructure Sustainability Materials Calculator (ISMC v2.0.08) when configured in-line with the processes detailed in the ‘Equivalence Procedure’. eToolLCD can be used to conduct the Materials lifecycle impact measurement and reduction credit (RSO-6) within an applicable IS Rating submission.
eTool Product Team produced the Alignment Report and the ISC Equivalence Procedure which were reviewed and validated by the ISC Technical Advisors to ensure a robust comparison at an asset and material level (GWP and EnviroPoints) as well as functionality aspects.
eToolLCD provides additional processes enabling users to model and optioneer with greater accuracy and explore more low impact design options. eToolLCD was recognised for having a rich feature set to speed up the modelling process and allow integration with BIM / LCC.

This is very exciting because now ISC projects in Australia can complete an LCA and report on the RSO-6 credit and it’s a great time saving bonus to have.

 

If you are working on a ISC project, check this Guidance out and learn how to conduct an LCA for RSO-6 credit in eToolLCD.

 

Access free eToolLCD infrastructure training HERE.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are here for you.

 

Top 10 LCA modelling tips for eToolLCD users for the New ‘Green Star Buildings’ rating

New Green Star Buildings rating was launched in 2020. It is exciting to see the transition in Australia towards more sustainable buildings and stricter carbon reduction targets within the new GBCA rating scheme.

During the webinar (watch our webinar here) we explained in detail which credits of the new rating can be tackled with the software eToolLCD. You can find our support article that talks about credits here:

  • Credit 21 – Upfront Carbon Emissions (up to 6 points)
  • Credit 24 – Other Carbon Emissions (up to 4 points)
  • Credit 26 – Life Cycle Impacts (up to 2 points)

Top 10 tips for eToolLCD users:

  1. Learn to extract data for credits 21, 24 and 26 from the same LCA model
  2. Credit 21: Use ‘Demolition’ templates from eTool’s library to estimate Demolition works for Credit 21 (Webinar minute 27:00)
  3. Credit 21: Be aware of different requirements for accounting for carbon sequestration when using timber products from scope A1-A5 and from scope A-D (Webinar minute 19:40)
  4. Credit 21: Unleash more options to reduce Upfront Carbon from optimising Transport (A4) or Construction processes (A5) (Webinar minute 24:00)
  5. Credit 21: Try different EPDs to get a better Upfront Carbon reduction
  6. Credit 24: Use LCA model to Optimise Credit 24 and emissions from refrigerant gases and other emissions (Webinar minute 29:50)
  7. Credit 24: Optimise other emissions from module B (Webinar minute 32:40)
  8. Credit 26: Explaining how to conduct an LCA for the new rating (Webinar minute 37:10)
  9. Credit 26: Use eToolLCD decarbonisation grid scenario 2050 (40:20)
  10. To automate data import from eTool into GBCA calculators, please vote on this feature request. We have many feature requests and have to prioritise. 🙂 The rule is that when it gets 20 votes, we will start working on it. Hurry up so it’s implemented sooner.

 

We look forward to hearing from you. If you are working on a Green Star Buildings project, let us know if you wish to discuss with us or need any help.

eTool’s End of the Year 2021 Message

      Some of the achievement eTool celebrates in 2021:

  • It is encouraging to see the construction industry response this year towards the net zero carbon goal. More and more people from all over the world realize now how crucial it is to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Our customized LCA tool for the construction industry gets more robust and dynamic each year which makes it easier to use and improves consistency aligned with international standards and technical requirements. The tool is constantly reviewed by specialized security teams as we expand our global presence with government agencies and large enterprise organizations.
  • We are recognized for our integrity, teamwork and passion for the environment. Throughout the year we have supported technical working groups in different infrastructure and buildings rating systems as well as government regulations. We also held various webinars and produced articles to share our knowledge with our clients, partners and industry professionals.
  • eTool has partnered with a global company to accelerate the adoption of life cycle design in construction and refurbishment projects aiming to improve the quality of life in balance with the planet.

Some other achievements s eTool celebrates this year:
eTool Community: 

  • We gained over 1300 new users
  • We modelled 1,720 New Projects
  • We tested 3,589 Design Scenarios
  • Our LCD Coaching team certified 317 Designs.

Services Team: 

  • We serviced 66 New Projects across a huge range of infrastructure project types and building typologies
  • We tested 1,425 Design Strategies with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 savings potential presented to clients
  • We are experiencing large increase in interest for our Life Cycle Design services with a focus on reducing carbon.

Software development highlights include: 

  • RapidLCA pilots run successfully with Witchcliffe Eco Village, City of Vincent and Canberra Low Carbon Housing Challenge
  • We implemented the new “Scenarios” modelling functionality
  • We improved EPD functionality including Excel copy paste and importing data from Excel
  • We introduced Specialist Hotseat and External Specialist seats for organisations managing large portfolios of assets.
  • We are on the right track towards much more achievements in 2022 and are confident to serve the planet in a more effective and productive way.

We celebrate each year as we maintain a very high customer retention rate at the same time we expand into new markets and different regions. Thank all our clients for the support and contribution to transition the industry into a low carbon future.

Yours sincerely,

eTool team.

Update: Quantifying the benefits of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest steel arch bridge and acts as a passage for rail, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. For the last 80 years, the bridge has been an international icon of Australia and all the social benefits associated with it are immeasurable. But what about all the steel, concrete, manpower and all the other impacts involved with the construction of the bridge. Has it paid itself off from an environmental perspective?

The material list includes 53,000 tonnes of steel, mostly imported by boat from the UK, 95,000 cubic metres of reinforced concrete and 18,000 cubic metres of granite that was transported 300km from the North of Sydney by specially built ships.

Using historic Australian records of the construction of the bridge, an eTool LCA was conducted to quantify and compare the results and benefits for both society and the planet.

Here are some interesting results:

Carbon impact of materials is dominated by imported steel for the arch followed by concrete for foundations.
Assembl­y impacts are very low when compared to total construction impact due to the use of cranes and manual work (6 million hand driven rivets!)
Transportation impacts are associated with materials transportation, especially the 79% imported steel from the UK.
Recurring painting maintenance and repair work represents only 6% of total embodied impact and will significantly increase bridge life.
Global Warming Potential (tonnes of CO2e)

Materials 270,693 83%

Assembly 6,499 2%

Transport 27,519 8%

Recurring 20,295 6%

Total 325,006

The predicted design life of the bridge used in the LCA was 300 years. This is another interesting topic because since the bridge is built with independent steel structures, the parts that present structural problems that can’t be repaired on site are replaced with new ones.

So, using eTool LCA results we were able to compare the embodied carbon impacts of the bridge with the operational carbon savings in reducing distances and fuel combustion.

The distance from Cammeray to Sydney passing through the bridge nowadays is 7 km and the route before the bridge via Gladesville was 17.6 km. Calculating CO2 emissions associated with fuel combustion savings over all these years and the average amount of vehicles crossing the bridge everyday, it represents a total savings of 11,850,720 tCO2e. The embodied impacts of construction achieved a carbon pay off due to transport fuel savings around 1955, and since then with the growth in transport across the bridge, have been repaid a further 35 times!

Whilst researching the LCA, we had a chat with Peter Mann, the asset manager of the bridge, who thinks the bridge will last another 300 years under the current maintenance regime. The bridge will potentially pay itself off a couple hundred times by then, which is an incredible environmental payback on an infrastructure project.

This is a great example of just how powerful LCA analysis is when evaluating infrastructure.
eTool LCA was designed to be totally scalable and used in any project from infrastructure to commercial and residential.

Contact us for more information about designing with eTool and getting the best outcome for your next project.

This assessment was conducted by Henrique Mendonca.

An update – Is the LCA on the Sydney Harbour Bridge too simplistic?

Absolutely!  Conducting an LCA on something as complex as the harbour bridge is much more complex than assessing a single product or building.  The reason being is that its influence is far reaching.  In a simple product LCA, practitioners will normally use an attributional method of assessing impacts.  In the case of a large piece of infrastructure that has far reaching influence, it’s more appropriate to use consequential analysis (see this article for more info  http://eco-efficiency-action-project.com/2010/03/01/attributional-versus-consequential-lca/ ).

We definitely simplified the assumptions around the consequences of the bridge being built verse not being built.  We assumed the vehicle movements from north to south would not have significantly changed with or without the bridge.  This is incorrect for a number of reasons:

  • The bridge may have actually encouraged people to buy and use cars because it made their use even more attractive than before the bridge was built
  • Without the bridge, people may have chosen an alternative transport method (eg. ferry) or reduce their trips across the harbour because the car trip was too inconvenient via the long route.

However, after conducting this simple analysis, the advantages of the bridge were so clear that making further assumptions about how the bridge has influenced the above behaviour didn’t seem worthwhile as it is very unlikely it would have changed the overall result.  It may have doubled the payback period, but would not have changed the result from net positive to net negative.

The other part of the analysis that is quite important here is the forms of transport we didn’t mention. We just assessed the impact of reduced car use.  We didn’t assess the even greater efficiency advances associated with train, tram (up to 1958), bus, bicycle and pedestrian use.  In fact, nowadays, nearly 20% of people crossing the bridge daily are not travelling by car.  Furthermore, there have been significant policy changes that have impacted the bridge’s influence on sustainability. Originally the bridge had 6 vehicle lanes, 2 tram lanes and 2 train lanes;  the trams more than likely carried more passengers than the vehicle lanes during their tenure.  That’s not to say trams and trains (driven by largely coal fired electricity) are the silver bullet to sustainable transport either, however they are a vast improvement on typical car use.

Was there a more sustainable option?

Of course, for example, if in 1923, instead of initiating construction of the bridge we had been able to halt car sales and development of transport infrastructure we could have avoided an incredible increase in carbon emissions in the Sydney region due to transport. Perhaps a bit extreme? This debate is a big can of worms, and halting development isn’t actually a prerequisite of sustainability.

It turns out that due to education and health (very nice by-products of development) the human population on earth is set to stabilize at about 9 billion people.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTznEIZRkLg&feature=relmfu)

At that level we could afford to emit about one tonne of carbon per person per year and the earth would be able to naturally draw this from the atmosphere. So our brief is to determine a lifestyle that accommodates 9 billion people on one planet.

For the harbour bridge, this probably would have meant two vehicle lanes (for buses and unavoidable commercial traffic run on biofuels and renewable electricity), an extra cycle lane or two, four heavy rail lines and four light rail lines (both run on renewable electricity).
So we have a few paradigm shifts to make before we reach this utopia (imagine it, it will be fantastic) but it’s not unrealistic over the next 80 years of the harbour bridge’s lifespan (think of where the world has come in the first 80 years since the bridge was opened, it would have been very hard to imagine in 1932).  On another positive note, it’s possible that “peak unsustainability” per person has probably been surpassed in Australia, we are finally trending the right direction.