EHDD has recently launched the Early-Phase Integrated Carbon (EPIC) Assessment tool, a free new web-based application developed to designers set goals and strategies to reduce carbon emissions from building and construction projects. The tool aims to fill a gap in the life-cycle assessment process and allow designers to identify the most impactful measures early in the project process. At the same time, other resources like Tally and EC3 are seen as crucial later in the design.
When designing for carbon neutrality, there are two elements to be taken into consideration: first, the amount of potential savings achievable with each reduction measure, and second, the time frame of those savings. The carbon footprint trajectory is cast early in the project timeline with a handful of critical decisions, like the size of the project, the structural system, and the reliance on all-electric systems. While most life-cycle assessment measures are typically completed toward the end of the schematic design phase, the EPIC tool provides target-setting guidance at the earliest moments in the project conceptualization to show designers and owners what is possible and to guide critical decisions.
EPIC is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool that puts information on carbon emissions directly in the hands of decision-makers early in the design process when targets can be set, and decisions can result in meaningful impacts. EPIC paints a nuanced total carbon picture allowing teams to evaluate trade-offs between embodied and operational carbon, broadening the toolkit of climate mitigation strategies, and showing that there is a pathway for action on every project. - Stephanie Carlisle, AIA, Senior Researcher at the Carbon Leadership Forum
EHDD, an architecture firm based in San Francisco, has been developing and implementing EPIC as an internal tool to inform the climate strategy across the firm’s projects. In line with their Climate Positive commitment, EHDD is releasing the device online. One example of the EPIC tool’s impact is the development of the UCSF Clinical Sciences Building renovation project, set to open later this year. Epic showed that the decision to reuse the existing historic structure would be the most impactful reduction, but, according to the architects, reuse was not the only option considered initially. The tool also considers the carbon benefit of energy efficiency and the PV installation while showing the impact of continued reliance on a mixed-fuel central plant instead of electrification.
The EPIC tool is currently in the BETA phase. More and more designers across the globe are responding to the threats of climate change by using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a method for creating a picture of the overall environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle from raw material extraction, through production processes and waste management, including all transport and all intermediate energy use. In the situation of architecture, LCA is used to assess the carbon emissions generated by the materials, construction, and use of the structure over its entire life, including demolition and disposal.