A tool for Architects, ESD Engineers, Cost Consultants and design and engineering educational faculties.
ENVEST is a prototype life cycle assessment based design tool for use at the earliest phases of design for buildings.
The ENVEST tool is completely unique. It simultaneously reveals both the operational impacts and the materials embodied impacts of a building as the design evolves. In doing so, it reveals the key design tradeoffs to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts over the life of the building. ENVEST simultaneously estimates construction $ cost and whole of life $ cost.
The first version of ENVEST was developed in 1998 by the UK Center for Sustainable Construction at BRE on behalf of UK Government. Edge Environment have developed ENVEST Au from scratch for Australia using data from the Building Products Life Cycle Inventory Project (BP LCI) and Edge Environment’s own operational energy model. ENVEST was showcased at G’Day USA Trade Mission in 2012 (read more).
How Designers Use ENVEST -
ENVEST is very intuitive to use. It is aligned with the way design teams really work, in cycles of iteration.
When you turn ENVEST on, an average building is already pre-programmed with typical dimensions, construction and orientation. A graphical display shows the estimated embodied and operational performance broken down by causes of impact. The display also shows approximate initial and life cycle operating costs.
ENVEST informs the design process right from the first design team meeting. Typically this meeting starts with the client briefing the team on the location and type of building, its floor area, the intended occupancy, the quality grade etc.
As these parameters are adjusted in ENVEST so the average building morphs into one meeting the client brief:
- Specifying location changes the climate data and solar gains, changes the connected electricity grid, changes the transport distances for materials used, changes the foundation design for typical ground conditions in that area.
- Specifying type of building changes the assumptions for lighting, occupant loads, internal partitioning requirements, floor loadings and spans.
- Specifying floor area changes the building dimensions to provide the required floor area – this in-turn changes the depth of plan and assumptions about structural systems, daylighting and artificial lighting.
- Specifying occupancy changes the computer assumptions, lighting assumptions and consequential cooling and heating loads, water consumption and requirements for access and egress to meet code.
- Quality grade influences assumptions about finishing materials and frequencies of retrofit likely to be required over the building’s life.
Then the design team go to work. As the team experiment with plan shapes, numbers of storeys, orientation, glazing areas, atria, core locations and floor layouts, ENVEST provides an iterative commentary, revealing how the changes are effecting the environmental performance of the building.
As the team continue, they will add heating systems, cooling systems, lighting fixtures, office equipment. Next will be materials and thicknesses of walls, floors, windows, etc.
As these changes are entered into the ENVEST model, so the average building morphs into the actual design. With every change the designers make, ENVEST uses approximate algorithms to quickly calculate the short and long term environmental effects.
It is always obvious whether a change improves or worsens the building design’s performance against overall environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, both initially and over the life of the building.
Why Australasia needs an ENVEST
The time is right for an Australasian version of ENVEST.
- A jointly industry (BPIC) and government (AusIndustry) Project – “Buildings and Environment – Full Life Cycle Assessment” is developing the fundamental life cycle data, replacement data and stakeholder weightings assessments to enable a full life cycle assessment approach to be developed using current Australian data.
- A CSIRO led national project (AusLCI) is developing the underpinning data needed for the feedstocks, energy sources, water and transport to complete the LCA datasets needed for buildings.
- After a period of evaluation and refinement, such a model might prove suitable as a basis or component of Green Building Rating Systems (Green Star and NABERS) or even as a basis for future code (BCA) and regulation. The ABCB and some State jurisdictions are known to be considering the options for incorporating materials based criteria on sustainability grounds – an ENVEST for Australasia would provide a practical vehicle for such initiatives.
Edge Environment have developed a demonstration prototype of the principle and mode of operation and now seek pump priming funding to develop a web based commercial version.
Edge Environment have developed this as a commercial venture. Pump priming assistance is needed because this tool is new in concept and new to the Australasian market and Edge Environment do not have the capital to invest to commercialise this prototype.
UK experience is that without significant funding to fully develop ENVEST as a fast, intuitive, interactive web based tool capable of replicating a wide range of design options, it will not be commercially viable. Equally, if ENVEST proves suitable for the range of applications envisaged and is keenly priced, it can be commercially viable and profitable.
The clients for ENVEST will be Architects, ESD Engineers, Cost Consultants and design and engineering educational faculties.
Edge Environment seeks pump priming finance to develop a commercial Australasian version of ENVEST for license to Architects, ESD Engineers, Cost Consultants and design and engineering educational faculties.
Edge Environment will consider funding from a consortium of interests but would prefer a single source of funding. Edge Environment may consider a joint venture with a software developer or other appropriate organisation if the terms are acceptable.