BLOG: Improving visualisation of embodied carbon to inform better design decisions.

Louisa Bowles of Hawkins/Brown writes about the launch of their new tool to quickly visualise the embodied carbon of buildings at any point in the building lifecycle.
Embodied carbon H/B:ert Hawkins Brown

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November 1, 2018

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On Monday 24 September Hawkins/Brown launched the H\B:ERT (Hawkins\Brown Emissions Reduction Toolkit) to an audience at the Building Centre in central London. H\B:ERT is a Revit plugin that enables quick analysis and visualisation of the embodied carbon of buildings and components at any time during the design process.

It was developed as part of a body of research by Yair Schwartz through the Engineering Doctorate partnership with the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE).

H\B:ERT works by measuring the volume of all materials tagged in the Revit model. It then applies embodied carbon data to that material, broken down into life cycle stages (product, construction, use stage and end of life) in line with BS EN 15978:2011. The tool aligns with the recent RICS and RIBA guidance and currently uses the University of Bath ICE database 2011, but the tool can use alternative data where available.

A stimulating discussion was held at the event, with panellists including Simon Sturgis (author of RICS and RIBA embodied carbon guidance), Alastair Mant (Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC), Daniel Doran (BRE), Yair Schwartz (UCL) and Louisa Bowles (Hawkins\Brown) and chaired by Hattie Hartman (AJ Sustainability Editor).

The discussion revolved around how the tool has already been used to inform design decisions, as well as to identify building elements and materials which have the most impact on overall impact. There were key challenges identified, such as the availability of accurate, standardised data, the establishment of tested benchmarks, and managing the balance of embodied carbon with operational carbon to ensure holistic design.

The incentivisation of clients and design teams to request embodied carbon measurements was also discussed. This led to a discussion of the high correlation between embodied carbon and cost, as well as material efficiency. If this is more clearly understood and visualised, could it help drive better, reduced emission design choices?

The tool can be downloaded from the Hawkins/Brown website.

To view the presentation from the launch event on Monday 24 September, click here. [UPLOAD]

You can follow Hawkins/Brown on Twitter by clicking here.

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