Jul 29, 2020

EC3 Tool Continues to Transform Markets for Building Materials

Nine months after its November introduction in Atlanta, GA at Greenbuild 2019, the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool is rapidly becoming an essential resource for architects and engineers aiming to design low-carbon buildings.

The EC3 tool is a free, cloud-based, easy-to-use tool that allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials. The tool was incubated and developed as a project of the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington, with financial support and collaboration from over 50 foundation and industry sponsors, including the Pankow and MKA Foundations, and global companies Autodesk, Interface, Microsoft and Skanska. A new nonprofit, Building Transparency, was established to continue to manage and scale the tool.

Stacy Smedley: “We are excited about the market transformation we are already seeing in adoption of Environmental Product Declarations for verified and transparent disclosure of environmental impacts of materials. We are committed to scaling the tool to more markets and material categories, to spur further innovation in our industry.”

The EC3 tool utilizes building material quantities from construction estimates and/or BIM models and a robust database of digital, third-party verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Powered by this data, the EC3 tool can be implemented in both the design and procurement phases of a construction project to look at a project’s overall embodied carbon emissions, enabling the specification and procurement of the low carbon options.

In June, the World Green Building Council recognized its impact by awarding the EC3 tool the WorldGBC Chair’s Award on Global Green Building Entrepreneurship 2019-2020. The Award is given each year to an individual or entity whose contribution to global sustainable buildings has proven to be unique, innovative and entrepreneurial.

ec3 workflow

The EC3 tool fills the gap between early LCA design analysis and procurement of building materials, and enabling material manufacturers to compete on cost and carbon. Stacy Smedley, Director of Sustainability, Skanska USA, conceived of the idea for the EC3 tool in collaboration with software developer Phil Northcott of C-Change Labs.

Companies sponsoring the tool now include over 50 leading firms in the construction industry, and over 7,500 industry professionals have signed up to use the tool. The board of Building Transparency recently added sustainability leaders from Salesforce, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Interface. EC3 continues to grow its global materials database and inform building industry specifications and procurement of low carbon materials, through both private owner commitments and public policy integration.

A host of new features have been added to the tool recently, including an interface for selecting up to 12 products and generating a comparison graph, new EPDs for resilient flooring and data cabling, a more secure way to display the names and employers EC3 users, templates for commercial buildings containing samples of most of the major materials, and an easier way to add new EPDs to the EC3 database.


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