New BCIS tool to measure whole-life costs and carbon

The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) has launched what it claims is a groundbreaking tool that measures and reports on whole life costs, and whole life carbon emissions, at the same time.

Life Cycle Evaluator brings together BCIS’s extensive cost data, building on more than 60 years’ experience, and detailed carbon data from the Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD).

James Fiske, BCIS’ chief executive, and chair of the BECD steering group, said: “By combining reliable and consistent cost and carbon data, which crucially complies with industry standards and is fully auditable, Life Cycle Evaluator empowers professionals to make informed decisions that optimise both project budget and environmental impact.

“Everyone in the industry, regardless of their role, can play a part in reducing harmful emissions. Realistically, though, we know it’s not always easy to incorporate carbon assessments into project planning, especially where there is limited experience within the team. Anything we can do to make that process more streamlined and efficient will be of significant benefit.”

Life Cycle Evaluator is the latest offering from BCIS intended to help drive down whole life carbon emissions in the industry, following the launches of its Cost and Carbon Materials Database, which provides comparative cost, and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) details for thousands of materials and components, and the Built Environment Carbon Database, a collaborative initiative that includes an extensive repository of EPDs and project carbon data.

Fiske added: “Combining cost and carbon data in one place is a logical development given the increasing requirement for both detailed whole life cost and whole life carbon plans to be produced, evaluated and audited in projects.

“We expect to see more audits being carried out on projects’ green credentials, making the accuracy of assessments – in some cases carried out to secure financing – even more critical.

“And, actually, the progression from high-level early estimates to the specification of precise materials and components is very similar whether you’re looking at costs or carbon. It makes complete sense to do it in one go, saving valuable time and resources.”

Life Cycle Evaluator is said tofeature a comprehensive component database, to which users can also add their own. It includes activity build-ups relevant to the project’s life, from initial construction to planned and reactive maintenance and replacement, and finally disposal, which could include reuse or recycling of materials.

Crucially, BCIS says it has developed its service in alignment with the whole life carbon assessment for the built environment standard from RICS, which enables users to produce reports in various formats without having to worry about the standard’s complex requirements.

Fiske said: “The inevitable consequence of everyone realising we need to address decarbonisation is that we’ve ended up with a multitude of carbon calculators, be they publicly available or developed by firms in-house.

“The lack of consistency between these calculators, which anyone who has used more than one will recognise, makes any meaningful use of these assessments more difficult.

“Standardising the way everyone carries out whole life carbon assessments is really important. Enabling professionals to be able to do them at the same time as whole life cost assessments is something that will hopefully improve efficiencies and ultimately reduce emissions.”

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