Throughout the pandemic, LCA (life cycle assessment) company eTool has seen sustained demand and even growth in the number of projects using its software, according to business development manager for Australia and New Zealand and electrical engineer, Maryia Perthen. 

Globally, the company has 12 staff members, up from six three years ago, and over 6000 users of their software across two different platforms — the original eToolLCD software for large and small buildings and infrastructure, and the newly released RapidLCA app aimed at the small residential housing market.

While the company also offers consulting services, Perthen said the greatest demand had been for eTool’s software. This has helped the company expand from mainly the UK and Australia, to New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and other European countries.

“eTool is quickly moving towards a software provider, however there is a lot of value in doing LCAs internally. This is about continuous improvement and helps us to understand what our clients need and address their needs quicker,” Perthen said. 

eTool business development manager for Australia and New Zealand, Maryia Perthen: “Unfortunately, the majority of projects do an LCA when the project is under construction to calculate emissions and report on them. It may take years until the shift in thinking happens and more projects will integrate life cycle design into their planning process.”

The company’s software is compatible with a range of international rating systems including Green Star, ISCA, LEED, BREEAM and CEEQUAL in Europe and NZGBC’s Green Star in New Zealand.

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, eTool has been looking at moving more and more into the infrastructure space, which means adapting to different sustainability targets set by government and private industry. 

“The Infrastructure market is growing a lot, despite the pandemic, billions of dollars are being invested into building new and upgrading the infrastructure in Australia, Asia and the European Union,” Perthen said.

According to Perthen, it’s becoming more common for large infrastructure projects to factor in their future greenhouse gas emissions but the process could still be much better.

“Ideally, each project should do an LCA and LCC at concept stage to know what the best environmental design option to the lowest cost is,” Perthen said. 

“Unfortunately, the majority of projects do an LCA when the project is under construction to calculate emissions and report on them. It may take years until the shift in thinking happens and more projects will integrate life cycle design into their planning process.”

Clients include the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia as well a new high speed rail line called HS2 in the UK, both of which engaged the service to produce more environmentally friendly results across their projects for the lowest cost. 

The West Australian city council of Vincent is another one of eTool’s clients and has aimed to set rigid targets for all its projects in the planning phase. 

As well as larger infrastructure projects, Perthen said there is also increased interest in bringing smaller residential projects up to scratch on emissions. She said there is significant potential for emissions reductions in the residential sector.

The rapidLCA app, which eTool officially launched in January this year, seeks to fill this gap by offering builders and homeowners a simplified tool for testing appliances and materials to calculate the future sustainability of their home. 

“Future homeowners or builders log into our platform and then make an assessment, see if they reach the required carbon reduction target, and if they do then they can launch an application and proceed,’ Perthen explained.

Using eTool’s RapidApp, builders or homeowners follow a simplified process taking roughly 20-30 minutes to input data. The software then generates a compliance report showing the building’s carbon footprint and whether required targets have been met.

They can then directly submit the design for approval, building permits or even green loans. 

As of early 2021, roughly 100 homes had undergone the RapidLCA treatment with many exceeding a target of 105 per cent CO2 reduction.