'Industry standard needed for climate calculations'

A building's carbon footprint is largely determined by its shape and frame. FOJAB has therefore developed the Leaf Cutter Ant tool for CO2 calculations in early design stages. But an industry standard is needed, says Simon Kallioinen, architect and lab director at FOJAB.

In collaboration with IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Tyréns and Warm in the Winter, FOJAB has developed Leaf Cutter Ant, a tool that shows the connections between a building's geometry, frame solution and climate footprint. The tool provides construction and real estate industry actors with knowledge to evaluate different solutions to make wise climate decisions in early stages, such as detailed plans, feasibility studies and volume sketches.

Real-time feedback
Leaf Cutter Ant is linked to the Building Sector's Environmental Calculation Tool (BM) with generic climate data for different building elements. Leaf Cutter Ant provides real-time feedback on the building's climate impact based on volume and materials, allowing the architect to quickly and easily compare the climate footprint of different building options.

To further simplify the work process, there are pre-set templates with combinations of different components. Leaf Cutter Ant also gives indications of price and makes a rough dimensioning to obtain credible quantities. And so that you don't lose sight of the climate emissions in the construction phase, an energy key figure is presented with an indication of the energy performance of the chosen solution.

- This function is important for understanding the total climate footprint. A good LCA value in the construction phase can result in a lower energy value and thus higher CO2 emissions in the operation phase. It is important not to put off the problems," says Simon Kallioinen.

Difficult to compare
Leaf Cutter Ant will be freely available to anyone with a license to the Construction Sector Environmental Assessment Tool. However, there are several different tools on the market for designing and continuously evaluating climate impact. And although it is good that many people are working simultaneously to reduce the climate footprint of the construction industry, there is a problem that the calculations are not comparable, says Simon Kallioinen.

- Different LCA calculation tools are based on different databases - which can give completely different results. They also count different things to some extent: some include internal walls, for example, while others do not. It works well to compare different solutions within a project. But comparing projects that have been LCA calculated with different tools is not as easy. A tool-independent standardization would be needed," he says.

Accounting is required
The need for both calculations and comparisons will increase. Today, climate declarations must be submitted for all new projects before the municipality gives final approval, and by 2027 the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning will present its limit values. The EU taxonomy, a regulatory framework that forces new investments to stay within the Paris Agreement's target of a maximum of 1.5 degrees of warming, will also increase interest in climate calculations at an early stage, when the most crucial decisions are made that affect the climate budget.

- Already, some competitions and land allocations require a schematic representation of CO2 emissions, and this is likely to become more common. It is important that the results are comparable even if you work with different tools," says Simon.

Common methodology
Discussions are ongoing between the major architectural firms to try to agree on a common methodology. The LFM30 climate network, which brings together the building and construction industry in Malmö, has also invited people to a meeting on climate calculations in the hope of possible cooperation.

- If enough of us can agree on a methodology, it can hopefully become an industry standard. Everyone would benefit from that," says Simon Kallioinen.


Find out more about our climate calculation tool for early stages here. Leaf Cutter Ant