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eTool LCA Software Updates – Autumn 2014

eTool LCA for Any Project

We conducted a retrospective LCA on the harbour bridge a while back, which highlighted how versatile eTool LCA was.  It was clunky though.  Whilst setting up the harbour bridge project we had to answer questions in the eTool LCA interface like “Number of bedrooms”.  We weren’t quite sure how we were going to solve this little quandary once and for all.  There seemed to be an unmanageably large number of different types of structures with potentially unique functional attributes.  For example, in the OmniClass classification there’s 748 different “Facility Types”.  When you also add all the possible iterations of mixed type facilities we really started scratching our heads.  Why?  Here’s a few reasons:

  • The result was bigger than the biggest number that excel could calculate (1.79 x 10308)
  • If we provided the software uses with a drop down to choose from this list, the drop down would extend past he bottom of your screen, through the Earth, out of our solar system, out of the milky way and through a bunch of other galaxies.
  • If you could navigate through that list of different functions at the speed of light, and the one you wanted happened to be half way down the list, it would take you longer than the time between the big bang and now
  • The amount of data stored in that list would take your computer about the same length of time to retrieve the list from the internet

Anyway, we knew we needed another method.  We needed an ability to not only choose from the list of facility types, but enable custom combinations of these facility types in the one design.  For example, a mixed development with residential, retail and commercial space.

This feature also started us on our journey of BIM integration.  Thus far we’ve drawn on COBIE as our categorisation standard, but in the future we hope to map this to other standards so users can report however they see fit.  The flexibility of eTool LCA just exploded (without the clunkiness, or waiting until the next big bang for your list of facility types to download).

eTool LCA for Infrastructure

In our new list of possible design functions we have infrastructure elements such as roads, rail, air ports, bridges, stadiums etc.  We even have applicable functional attributes that users can choose for the appropriate infrastructure.  For example, a road designer may choose to measure their impacts per:

  • passenger transported
  • tonne of freight transported
  • workload unit (one passenger or 100kg of freight)
  • unit area of pavement
  • unit length of the road

Hopefully this drives some serious though about what the function of that infrastructure is, and how the movement of passengers or freight may be better done with lower carbon alternatives such as rail!  After all this is one of the beauties of LCA.

eTool LCA for Energy Generators

Another neat example of facilities that can now be assessed with eTool LCA is electricity generators.  Fancy running an environmental life cycle assessment of a wind turbine verse solar PV verses coal fired plant?  Knock your socks off!  The functional unit you’ll probably be choosing here is impacts per life cycle kWh generated.

eTool LCA for Data Centres

A little left field, but how to you compare the sustainability of data centres?  Have a go in eTool LCA!  You can choose from the below functional units to ensure you’re making fair comparisons between different options:

  • Annual data stored
  • Life cycle data stored
  • Annual data transmitted
  • Life cycle data transmitted
  • Net usable area

What next for eTool LCA?

For those who are rushing to check out the above functionality, bare in mind this is hot off the press and we’re yet to develop a library of templates that support these new types of construction entities.  This will come though, especially with the template validation functionality that is already helping our library grow.

In the mean time, software features continue to roll on.  The two big projects we’re working on at the moment is BRE IMPACT compliance.  We’re excited about this as it’s a third party verification system specifically designed for what eTool LCA does – LCA of Construction Projects.  Not only is this a big indication of the mainstreaming of LCA, it’ll also be really nice to have an official seal of approval on the accuracy of eTool LCA.

The other big project is a push on reporting.  We’re introducing a whole heap of cool new reports aimed at users to generate promotional and marketing ideas for their improved buildings.  Is this core to LCA, absolutely now.  Is it important to ensure that environmentally sustainable buildings proliferate?  Absolutely.  We don’t have our pulse on this globally but we hazard to guess the biggest impediment to truly sustainable buildings in Australia is a total disinterest within the real estate industry.  And eTool LCA is will hopefully spark this interest a little more by providing agents with really useful info to help them sell better buildings.

Past that, refer to our product roadmap which (although partially implemented) gives a good idea of where we’re heading longer term.

GBCA Green Star 2014 Incorporates LCA Credit

Last year, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) announced the launch of two Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) based “Innovation Challenges”, which challenged the industry to incorporate Whole of Building LCA (6 points), and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) (2 points) into new and registered Green Star projects.

Just this month, GBCA released their Summary of Changes to Credits report where life cycle assessment is now a draft credit offered for Green Star. The newly added Material Life Cycle Impacts credit makes up to six points available for whole-of-building, life cycle cycle assessment:

  • 4 points for realising an improvement across six environmental impact categories in comparison to a theoretical benchmark building
  • 1 additional point available for including an additional five impact categories in the analysis

This is exciting news for life cycle assessment as it signifies the growing global trend towards LCA as the preferred design and assessment method for sustainable buildings. Just last month, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) also embraced life cycle assessment in their EnviroDevelopment standards.

eTool is a leader in life cycle design and assessment through our innovative, sophisticated life cycle assessment software and consulting services and offer a range of services to best suit your needs. Please contact us if you have any queries about the new LCA Green Star credit or if you would like to discuss how eTool can assist with your Green Star project.

Watch this space as life cycle design continues to soar and eTool congratulates GBCA for another positive development in Green Star.

 

 

GBCA Introduces “Life Cycle Assessment”

As part of the “Green Star 2014” program of works the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has announced the launch of two Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) based “Innovation Challenges”. Providing up to 8 points in the Green Star Innovation category, the challenges will encourage the industry to incorporate Whole of Building  LCA (6 points) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) (2 points) into new and registered Green Star projects.

This is a fantastic development for the Green Building industry, the owners/occupants of the buildings and ultimately the environment. Whole of Building LCA provides a brilliant platform to understand the total ecological footprint of a building, facilitate ease of comparison against alternative designs and ultimately find ways to improve the final outcome of the project.

While forming the basis of the British and European standard for calculating environmental impacts of buildings (BS EN 15978:2011), LCA is now rapidly propagating into the industry as can be seen with its incorporation into BREEM, LEED, and now Green Star.

The integration of LCA within Green Star will provide an opportunity for organisations to get up to speed and ahead of the pack as LCA becomes mainstream.

Under the “Life Cycle Assessment: Material Lifecycle Impacts” “Innovation Challenge” a project will be potentially eligible for 6 points by conducting a Whole of Building LCA

  • 4 points for realising an improvement across four environmental impact categories in comparison to a theoretical benchmark building
  • 1 point for comparison against a real example building of similar function
  • 1 point for including an additional five impact categories in the analysis

For more details on these exciting “Innovation Challenges” please head to this link

With almost four years of delivering Whole of Building LCA’s and developing LCA software, eTool is well positioned to assist organisations looking to capitalise on this new “Innovation Challenge”.  Our proven, streamlined, accurate and cost effective process gets results and makes Whole of Building LCA easy.

eTool is able to provide “eTool LCA” software and training within your organisation, enabling you to either conduct your own LCA’s or our engineers can consult with your team to complete LCA’s on your behalf.

We anticipate that projects aiming for “five star”, and in some cases “four star” ratings, will find improvements in the required LCA environmental impacts readily achievable. This, combined with the simple and cost effective eTool LCA process, will enable access to up to 6 points in an economical fashion.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the technical details of the “Innovation Challenge” or would like to see how eTool can assist with your Green Star project.

eTool congratulates GBCA on this exciting development and looks forward to assisting in the process of making buildings better.