Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.

is the code for sustainable homes working

Building Design asks the question is the code working and carries two viewpoints. Andy von Bradsky sees it as credible tool that will evolve and allow us to lead the field in zero carbon futures, whereas Mark Brinkley sees it as a graveyard of intentions.

The article finishes with a what do you think prompt…

I couldn’t resist replying, and include my post to that page below

Code level 6 is, as I have mentioned more than once, the wrong tool for the wrong job.

Why?

It doesn’t pick up on the wider sustainable communities issues, the triple bottom line and CSR issues that contribute to sustainable homes/developments, ie the eco-home within the context of an eco-place.

More importantly it does not address the construction process as Mark illustrates, allowing business as usual for the builders, other than integrating or assembly new bits of building kit. (I was not surprised to hear that the Hanham Hall project will not be monitoring or attempting to improve the carbon footprint of the construction process)

I also question whether we (the UK) are indeed leading the field in zero carbon futures. Are we not just waiting to be led by legislation, and then complaining when its too hard, too expensive, too different ? (as illustrated by bidders pulling out of the next eco-challenge project at Peterborough). I sense elsewhere they are just getting on and doing it – because it makes good sense, commercially, for image, and for the planet.

Time for a re-think on this one. But then thats what targets are for – to learn and improve.

Postscript:

Jonathan Poritt’s view point on this is well worth a read – as he says, Continue reading “is the code for sustainable homes working”

…on coal, blue and earth day 2008

Wear BLUE for Earth Day 2008 to VOTE for No Coal

This blog has commented through many posts on coal, on its significant contribution to carbon footprints, on the relationship with the built environment (coal – safe cigarettes for the built environment) and on the recently approved new coal power station in the UK.

But did you know that the UK Eon power station, the first for 20 years, will add 5% to the UK’s carbon footprint, and that the proposed magic cure of carbon capture, when viable, will take some 40% of the energy proposed just to drive the capture application. (source – Guardian Environmental weekly podcast 12/03/08).

isite has long supported Architecture 2030, a movement in the US that makes the link between design / buildings in use and energy production from coal.

isite is proud to have been asked to promote Architecture 2030’s rallying call to everyone to participate in the BYOBlue campaign by calling on everyone to wear BLUE during Earth Day 2008 to signify a vote for NO COAL. (April 20th)

More details can be found at www.byoblue.org and in Ed Mazria’s article posted at Grist (here).

Details on any UK BYOBlue activities will be posted here.