Categories: Processes and Tools, Case Studies
Property consultancy Davis Langdon has begun building the next evolution in rating tools.
The group’s ‘embodied carbon metric’ (ECM) tool assesses the cradle-to-grave carbon impact of a development throughout its lifecycle.
To do so, it gathers data on emissions from several sources:
- The extraction of raw materials
- Primary energy sources
- Manufacturing processes
Davis Langdon says the tool is being used to inform decisions based around financial costs, operational efficiencies, Green Star compliance and the greenhouse gas ‘legacy’ of buildings.
Michael Manikas, Davis Langdon sustainability capability leader, says the tool had been operating within the group for two years in the United Kingdom. Recently, the Australian team took the tool apart and rebuilt it using Australian data.
The tool’s creation was spurred by Davis Langdon’s belief that operational and embodied greenhouse gas emissions in new projects will continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the property and construction sector.
With government initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Target, and proposed carbon pricing mechanisms, Davis Langdon is betting advanced tools like its ECM will become a necessity.
“It’s the next hot topic in the sustainability agenda,” Manikas says of carbon measurement. “It’s obviously going to be incorporated in those tools like Green Star and LEED and BREEAM.”
The tool calculates greenhouse gas emissions based on the quantity of materials estimated for a development through the cost estimate process.
Different design options are modelled to produce a scenario optimised for carbon performance better than industry standard practice.
Davis Langdon says the tool can calculate embodied carbon per sqm, compare the embodied carbon content against the estimated operational carbon footprint of the development, and translate carbon intensity into nominal terms based on estimated carbon trading values.
Manikas says the tool has been used successfully, or is being used, on several projects in NSW, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
In two case studies, the ECM tool helped reduce an educational facility’s carbon footprint in construction by 20 percent, and a hospital building’s by 18 percent, against current industry practice.
The tool identified alternative practices to achieve the results, such as replacing cement in concrete with ground granulated blast furnace slag, using recycled aluminium, and lowering concrete strength where appropriate.
“To reduce your footprint you need to know what it is,” Manikas says. “It’s really engaged the design teams [on projects] and made them aware of what the environmental impacts of materials are.”
Manikas says there are no limitations to what types of projects the ECM tool could be applied to, because it’s calculated at the materials level.
He says the tool is complimentary to others, such as Green Star.
For more information: