Laing O’Rourke has developed a carbon calculator that can quickly analyse levels of embodied carbon in digital designs.
The tool focuses on the embodied carbon content of the sub- and super-structure elements, which can account for more than half of the upfront embodied carbon in a typical building project.
Since May 2021, Laing O’Rourke has used the new calculator on 14 bid submissions, identifying changes that reduced the embodied carbon in the original designs by up to 19%, it says.
Phase one of the carbon calculator uses an in-house Laing O’Rourke app, which automates the analysis of the digital model. It extracts and indexes design information, such as component quantities and classification information.
Joanna Vezey, Europe technical director, explains: “The app creates an auditable trail of all model revisions through the design phase. This brings benefits not only to carbon measurement, but also change, data validation and cost control.
“It does this by processing thousands of models each day across both of our operating hubs, constantly checking for new models and changes to existing ones. It currently holds several billion data points.”
The company’s material database has been developed using information provided from the Inventory of Carbon & Energy (ICE) database and continues to expand as it adds environmental product declaration (EPD) data from its supply chain partners.
“The final data is automatically recorded within the database and fed into a user-friendly dashboard, which we can use to assess the embodied carbon in the baseline design,” Vezey added.
“It displays the data in real time and presents a carbon heat map of a project – which clearly identifies the embodied carbon of each component and where the greatest reductions can be achieved. This has allowed our teams to present alternative options to clients to reduce embodied carbon.”
Rossella Nicolin, Laing O’Rourke structures technical director, added: “The construction sector faces a major challenge in finding ways to reduce scope 3 emissions.
“This breakthrough tool helps us start to make progress. We are looking to broaden the tool’s application to help us decarbonise other standard components of builds and apply it to facades as well as structural works.”
Image credit: Red ivory/Shutterstock
Are you a building professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.