Carbon Feature Interface Guide

embodied carbon, interface guide, getting started, overview

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

The Carbon Feature is broken down into four pages, found in the submenu on the left-hand side of the screen.

  • The Project Details Page, where you can enter initial project information, edit detailed assumptions, and view your Project Carbon Profile.

  • The EPD Selection Page, where you can view the library of digital Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) available, create custom EPDs, shortlist the products you want to use, and view detailed EPD information.

  • The EPD Assignment Page, where you can edit estimate quantities, select specific EPDs from your short list, and see the impact of your decisions as you make them.

  • The Results Page, where you can view your Project Carbon Profile, view results across different levels of reporting, and download your results as a spreadsheet.

Each of these pages has additional inputs and tools available to you. This article will review each page, its inputs, and their uses so you can get the most out of the Carbon Feature on all your projects. If you need to view any images in this article in a larger format, please right click on the image and select "Open in a new tab".

Project Details Page

The General Inputs page is your entry-point to the Carbon Feature. This is where you will enter your initial project assumptions, review your preliminary Project Carbon Profile, and edit any advanced inputs.

General Inputs

The General Inputs panel provides preliminary inputs for your project. These are the only required inputs to generate your Project Carbon Profile.

You will be prompted to select the Construction Type from New Construction or Renovation. If you select Renovation, you'll be able to choose the percentage of each system (substructure, superstructure, enclosure/envelope, and interior) to be preserved as part of the renovation process.

Next, you can enter the Building Life. This will be the operational lifespan of the building, and will be used to calculate the total operational carbon as well as evaluate any product replacements, if selected in the Advanced Inputs panel.

Third, you can provide a Design Phase. This is a tracking metric for your projects to keep track of when the carbon calculation has been run.

Finally, you can choose a Structural System from steel, concrete, or mass timber. These are initial selections, which you can refine further in the Advanced Inputs panel. You can also optionally edit the Grid Spacing, which will control your typical column spacing or structural bay dimension.

Project Carbon Profile

The Project Carbon Profile provides an at-a-glance overview of your project results that will update as you make changes on subsequent pages. It is broken into three sections:

  • Project Total Carbon Emissions, which captures your achievable and baseline total carbon, as well as your total carbon reduction, GHGI, Life cycle modules, and operational lifespan.

    • Achievable Carbon is based on your actual inputs from the Baseline Energy page, as well as the selected EPDs in the Carbon Feature. If you haven't selected any EPDs yet, this value will use the lowest-carbon product available closest to your site by default.

    • Baseline Carbon is based on an industry standard set of energy inputs for the Baseline Energy model, sourced from LEED baselines. The embodied carbon baseline is calculated using your model geometry and assemblies with generic carbon values coming from the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) and the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3).

    • GHGI is the unitized Greenhouse Gas Intensity, which captures the embodied carbon per area of your project.

  • The Project Carbon Emissions Breakdown is a graphical representation of your carbon breakdown. It shows your achievable and baseline embodied carbon side-by-side with your operational carbon. This graphic also shows the reduction for each type of carbon emissions individually.

  • The System Carbon Emissions Breakdown dives deeper into the embodied carbon emissions, subdividing the project's embodied carbon into its component systems: substructure, superstructure, enclosure, and interior.

Advanced Inputs

The Advanced Inputs panel has additional detailed inputs to refine your simulation. These inputs are broken down into six categories:

  • Structures, which includes details for editing the structural estimation, including changing the structural system, adding a podium system, and changing the foundation type. Read more.

  • Stairs, which has details for estimating enclosed fire stairs in your project.

  • Product Replacements, which captures information surrounding product lifespan and replacement, especially for finishes that might be replaced repeatedly over the course of the building's operational lifespan.

  • Operational Carbon, which includes the assumptions for the operational carbon projection, including the initial grid carbon factors for gas and electricity, as well as the decarbonization scenario used. Read more.

  • Project Options are general project settings, including year of completion, baseline choice, and simple load conditions.

  • Advanced Engineering includes additional structural assumptions, including default material strengths.

EPD Selection Page

The EPD Selection Page is dedicated to viewing and selecting the EPDs that will be part of your project. It is broken down into four panels:

  • The Project Assembly Browser, which captures each material, assembly, and line item that is modeled in your project. It is broken down by building system, then further by assembly and material.

  • The EPD Library, which shows the available list of digital EPDs from EC3. This is sorted based on the selected material

    • The EPD Library has Filters which can be applied, and vary slightly by category.

  • The Project EPD Library, which is the distinct shortlist of materials that you have added to your project.

  • The EPD Details, which shows the detailed information from the digital EPD and provides a link to EC3 to view the full document.

The Project Assembly Browser, EPD Filters, and EPD Library

Project Assembly Browser

The Project Assembly Browser lets you review your initial building material takeoffs and estimates. From here, you can select a building system, assembly, or material to view the details for. Your selection will allow you to view the EPDs associated with that material as well as your shortlisted products for that material type.

Q: Why is the enclosure section grayed out?

A: If assemblies have not been assigned to your geometry via the assembly builder and then exported from drawing.tool, you will not be able to view enclosure or detailed interior takeoffs. Please return to drawing.tool and assign assembles, export from drawing.tool, and then re-run the carbon analysis.

EPD Library

The EPD Library and EPD Filters panels allow you to view, filter, and sort the library of digital EPDs available in cove.tool. You can click on the "Filter" button to expand the EPD Filters panel, or the "Sort" button to change the sort parameters for the EPD Library.

Within the EPD Filters panel, you can set filters for:

  • Global Warming Potential (GWP). You can click on the equality operator to change the search conditions.

  • Strength. For structural materials, you can filter on material strength.

  • Concrete Weight. For concretes, you can filter from all, normal weight, or lightweight products.

  • Validity. EPDs expire, and you can filter by expiration date if you only want to see valid EPDs.

  • Distance. You can filter by distance to the plant listed on the EPD from your project site.

  • Manufacturer. You can filter by manufacturer name, if you know which manufacturer you are looking for.

Q: Why is the EPD Library empty?

A: If we do not have any EPDs from EC3 or our manufacturer partners, you may find an empty EPD Library. If this is the case, you can create custom EPDs in the Project EPD Library tab.

In the EPD Library, each card has high level information about an EPD. You can click on these cards to expand the EPD Details panel, or click on the plus icon to add the EPD to your Project EPD Library. Each card displays

  • The product name

  • The manufacturer

  • The product GWP and associated unit

  • The baseline GWP and associated unit

Project EPD Library

The Project EPD Library is home to your shortlist of products or EPDs that you want to evaluate in your analysis. By default, it will contain the lowest-GWP product that is available closest to your site and three random high-performing products from the EPD Library.

In this tab, you can view the same EPD cards as in the EPD library, click the minus icon to remove them from your shortlist, click on a card to view the details, or create a custom EPD.

To create a custom EPD, click on the "Custom" button, then enter your EPD details into the pop-up that appears. Click "Create EPD" to save, or "Close" to exit the pop-up without saving.

EPD Details

The EPD Details panel includes the detail-level information specific to the selected EPD. From this panel, you can also access the original document on EC3 by clicking on the "Open EPD" button. Information in this panel includes the EPD name, manufacturer information, and the reported carbon data.

EPD Assignment Page

The EPD Assignment Page is broken into two sections. On the left is the Material Quantities and EPDs Browser. This section allows you to review your EPDs selected in the EPD Selection Page, choose the EPD you want to apply to a line item, and edit the automated quantity estimates. On the right are the Detailed System Carbon Profiles. These graphics represent each of the system categories shown on the left and updated dynamically as you select and assign EPDs.

Materials and EPDs Browser

The Materials and EPDs Browser allows you to view and edit your material estimates. Here, you can select the different building systems and their components in order to view and edit the quantity estimates provided by cove.tool. You can also use the product dropdowns to select the EPD you wish to assign from your Project EPD Library.

In this browser, you'll have access to:

  • Names of the materials included in your estimates.

  • Quantities for each material, which you can edit

  • Estimation Factors, which allows you to build in estimates for market uncertainty, material waste, and other factors

  • Strength of materials, for structural materials

  • EPD Selection, which provides you with a drop down menu to select from your shortlisted EPDs in the Project EPD Library

  • The Baseline displaying the source for the baseline carbon value

  • The Global Warming Potential for each material and its associated baseline.

In collapsed sections, you will also see the numerical total achievable and baseline carbon values for that section.

Detailed System Carbon Profiles

The Detailed System Carbon Profiles show you the material-level breakdown of each building system. For structural sections, you will see Superstructure and Substructure together. For Enclosures and Interiors, you will see all materials in your assigned assemblies.

From this graphic, you can view the percentage contribution to the baseline and achievable values for each material, the total baseline and achievable carbon values, and when clicking on a material you can see the numerical kgCO2e values for baseline and achievable.

Results Page

The Results Page will provide you with a summary of your project. It includes the Project Carbon Profile from the Project Details Page updated with any changes made in the previous two pages, the System Level Information results, and the Detailed System Carbon Profiles in context of the broader results.

The Project Carbon Profile is reproduced here and updated with any changes made in the EPD Selection and EPD Assignment pages. You can click the "Export Project Details" button to download a results spreadsheet. This spreadsheet includes line-item details for each material in the project, including carbon, baselines, EPD links, and more. It also includes the numerical results shown on the Results Page to help you create graphics that fit your specific project needs.

System Level Information

The System Level Information is the center panel on this page. It includes a breakdown of your project's embodied carbon by building system. This data is broken into components, instead of materials. For the structural system, this will be by member type; for example beams, girders, slabs, columns, etc. For the enclosure and interior systems, it will be by assembly.

Hovering over any segment will display additional information. You can also click the toggle at the top right of this panel to switch between a kgCO2e display and a percentage breakdown display. Clicking on any graphic will expand the Detailed System Carbon Profile, which will behave exactly as it does on the EPD Assignment Page.

Happy Modeling!

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