Plan & Compare Buildings

The Plan & Compare Buildings feature allows a user to create a project through the Building Planner. Building projects are organized into five subpages, available in the left navigation pane:

My buildings: Displays all building projects and folders created by the user.

Templates: Displays default templates provided by Building Transparency that can be used as a starting point for user templates or projects.

Shared with Me: Displays building projects and folders created by others and shared with the user using the projects’ sharing settings.

Public: Displays building projects that have been set as Public, which include Building Transparency’s templates as well as published case studies and anonymized buildings from other EC3 users.

All buildings: Displays all building projects viewable by the user in any of the above tabs, all in one place.

Creating a Building

A project may be created through the +Building Project button in any of the subpages. A project can also be created by importing from a building information modeling (BIM) model. Currently, EC3 allows import from either Autodesk’s BIM 360 or the LCA tool, Tally. An EC3 Revit Plugin is also under development.

Importing from other platforms

Autodesk Construction Cloud

New projects can be created from an existing BIM 360 model by clicking the +Import from Autodesk button in the top-right corner of the Building List. Users will be prompted to log in to Autodesk and select the model to import into EC3. Note that this feature requires the model to be uploaded to the Autodesk cloud platform, not just a local or shared Revit model.

tallyLCA

Tally models can be exported to EC3 from the Save Report tab within the Tally plug-in.

After clicking the Export to EC3 button, users will be prompted to log in to EC3 using their EC3 credentials. The export proceeds with creating a new EC3 building project, transferring material names and quantities into EC3. Users can download a Tally export report from the newly created EC3 project, which will list any elements that encountered issues during the export process.

tallyCAT

See tallyCAT guide.

Third-party Integrations

While we don't control all integrations with other platforms, we see ourselves as a part of a broader AEC ecosystem and collaborate with other providers aligned with our mission. The following are some of the most relevant integrations for EC3 EPDs and projects.

Procore

Watch video tutorial.

RIB CostX

See here.

Bentley

Watch video tutorial by Bentley.

Transparency Catalog

Watch video tutorial by Sustainable Minds.

cove.tool

See here.

Populating Building Information

After a project is created, the user can input project-specific information, such as name, construction start date, and address. Construction start date is used to automatically filter EPDs that will be valid on or after the construction date during material selection. You may need to remove the “valid after” filter during material search if you wish to see EPDs with earlier expiration dates. The address field is used during material searches to look for EPDs within a specified distance from the project.

Building Classification

The Building Classification pane allows users to input project information such as level of development (LOD), gravity and lateral system information, and seismic design category. These inputs are important when categorizing project data, particularly when trying to compare the performance of different projects (i.e., similarly categorized projects may be compared to each other).

Reference & Comparison

The building project can be compared to other projects in the user’s list by typing the project name and selecting it from the dropdown menu. Users can also set GWP targets, and define what version of a Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) Baseline to use.

Embodied vs Operating

EC3 is a database of embodied carbon data. If known from other sources, users may also add operational carbon data such as energy use intensity (EUI) and energy source. If operational information has been added, users may click the View Embodied vs. Operating button to see the relative impact of embodied versus operational carbon. This can come in handy when comparing systems that impact both embodied and operational emissions, such as curtain wall or exterior wall assemblies, and to put the embodied carbon into perspective with the operating carbon cost of the building over its lifetime.

Adding Material Data

To build the project, users can input project material quantities manually or through an import from a project BIM model. Manual input may utilize hand-calculated quantity take-offs, construction estimates, or bill of materials.

Each line in the Building Planner is called a Building Element. After giving the Element a name, enter the quantity of the material. The Quantity field is a calculator that supports most math operations that Excel supports, e.g. (1.23 + 4.56) * 7.8E9. Formulas you enter are preserved, which is helpful in documenting the source of a calculation.

EC3 supports a wide range of units of measure (e.g., m2, ft2, sq.ft., sq. in., or even acre). EC3 will automatically convert the units used in EPDs to the unit entered by the user. A Building Project can use any mix of SI, USA (Imperial), or common industry units that are convenient for the user. A comprehensive list of the units EC3 will accept for each material category can be found here.

To capture the type of material, click the Search button. The search is similar to the Find & Compare Materials feature. Enter the specifications for the material and execute the search. The resulting list of materials represents the range of products that may be utilized; exploration of lower-carbon options is encouraged. Selecting an EPD will show how it compares against the range.

The range of possible materials for a particular element, with accompanying statistics and an optional Selected Material, are called a Collection. Collections can be copied, pasted to other elements, shared, and edited for all elements they are assigned to.

Users can build out composite materials or assemblies that consist of multiple layers or materials by making an element a Multi Material element.

This allows the users to scale all sub-element quantities by the amount of the parent element. For example, a pile foundation may consist of multiple similar piles made up of concrete fill, steel pile casing, and reinforcing steel. Setting up the piles as Multi Material elements allows us to estimate the total amounts of material for one pile and then multiply that estimate by the total number of similar piles on the project.

Builders

Within the building project planner there are several Builders that allow users to estimate the materials within typical assemblies. These builders are especially useful when detailed quantity information is not yet available or when a 3D model does not have sufficient detail. The builders are located within the “multi-material” feature. To navigate to the builders, add a new element to your project. Click the “multi-material” button to the right of the “EPDs” button in the collection column.

Once you click “multi-material”, a dropdown list will appear with a list of builders.

The following builders are currently in EC3:

1. Concrete, Reinforced, by volume

2. Concrete, Reinforced, by area

3. Floor, Composite Mass Timber

4. Floor, Light Frame Wood

5. Floor, Non-Composite Mass Timber

6. Floor, Slab on Metal Deck

7. Glazing, Curtain Wall

8. Glazing, Storefront

9. Glazing, Window Wall

10. Wall, CMU

11. Wall, Interior Metal Stud

12. Wall, Wood Stud

You can see additional details of each builder in the #_heading-h.147n2zr-1 subsection.

Adding Specific EPDs to Projects

When searching for specific EPDs to add to a building project, it is best to search for existing EPDs in EC3 before using the “Import EPD” functionality. The steps include: (1) select the product category, (2) click the Search button, (3) type the product name in the “Product” column header to filter just for the specific EPD, (4) click the EPD and (5) click the "Use this collection" button to apply the specific EPD to a project. The "Import EPD" functionality should only be used if you can't find an EPD in EC3 already, and/or if you have the original, digital PDF of the EPD. Scanned PDF documents tend not to work well when importing into EC3.

Selected and Alternate Products

The building planner allows users to select primary and alternate products for comparison and for bid leveling. Start by adding material data and click on the star icon on the left side of the Subcategory column in table of Product EPDs. Users can select up to 6 alternatives.

Reduction Targets

Users can set project-specific reduction targets and, after products have been procured, select the utilized products to compare the project's actual (realized) reductions against the set targets. GWP target can be set in one of two ways:

  1. Below CLF Baseline by a percentage set by the user. (e.g., 30% below CLF Baseline).

  2. Set at the EC3 Achievable Target value. (See EC3 Achievable Value for details).

All product categories have an Achievable Target (i.e., 20th percentile of the market) in GWP terms based on EPDs in EC3; however, not all categories have a CLF Baseline. In cases where the target approach is to be Below CLF Baseline by X% but a product category does not have a CLF Baseline, the Target for that category is not set - this target method will only be applied to categories with CLF Baseline.

Building Results

Building results can be displayed as Sankey diagrams, tree-map diagrams, and bar charts, and can also be exported in spreadsheet format.

To create results, users should input floor area above and below grade at the top of the material build-out. These will be used to calculate the embodied carbon intensity, or embodied carbon per area.

Summary Charts

Once a project includes the minimum required information, such as floor area, its results can be visualized in the project's summary charts by clicking the Charts button. Available summary charts include a Sankey Diagram, a simple graphic representation of the project's embodied carbon baseline estimate, reduction target, and as-built results.

These visualizations can be utilized to communicate with project Owners and as a reporting mechanism for ILFI and LEED certification systems or jurisdictional policies such as Buy Clean California. Both ILFI and LEED include embodied carbon imperatives, with LEED including a pilot credit that can be specifically achieved through use of EC3.

Rollup charts

You can create combined charts for multiple projects by 1) using the eye icon at the folder or superfolder level or by 2) selecting multiple projects and clicking the Compare Buildings button. You can then show combined charts including waterfall charts, Sankey, and bar charts as shown below.

Summary Reports

Users may also download summary reports by clicking the Reports button. Building project information can be exported to a spreadsheet in either an XLSX or CSV format. The only difference in the two types of export files is that an XLSX is fully formatted, while a CSV is not. All of the quantity, material, and carbon information is identical in both file types.

You have the option to export the following reports:

  • Quantity Summary Report: Provides information summarized by product type but includes all product categories.

  • Building Element Report: Lists all elements exactly as they appear in EC3, that is, all elements are listed individually. This report also includes all product categories.

  • LEED Report: Lists all elements as they appear in EC3 but only for the product categories required for the LEED Pilot credit.

  • Recommended Materials Report: Report of all EPDs marked as Selected or Alternate for the project.

  • EPD List Report: Report of all selected product EPD and Industry EPDs on the project.

  • ICMS 3 Report: Elements report organized according to the RICS ICSM standard.

Rollup Reports

You can also export reports for multiple projects at once. In the Plan & Compare building section, when looking at the list of all projects, you have two ways of doing this:

1) Click the Rollup Report icon at the Folder or Superfolder row

2) Select multiple projects using checkboxes and click the revelaed Rollup Report button at the top of the table

You can then select which type of Rollup Report you want to export.

GWP Value Types

There are six different embodied carbon values tracked across EC3. Baseline, Average, Conservative, and Achievable embodied GWP values are statistical values across all similar products (Product Collection), as described on the EPD page. Reported and Comparison GWP values are specific to an individual EPD.

Statistical GWP Values for a Product Collection

Baseline: 2019 CLF Baseline or 2021 CLF Baseline. The version of CLF Baseline can be selected by the user in the User Profile, in the EPD boxplot settings, or in a project’s settings. It is important to note that this number is static and independent of the EPDs of the EC3 tool. Be cautious in using baselines, as they cover very broad ranges of materials that may not be functionally equivalent.

Conservative Estimate: At least 80% of matching EPDs have a Comparison Value better than the Conservative Estimate. Typically, a procurement that ignores carbon will not be worse than the conservative estimate.

If a Product EPD is selected, then the Conservative value in the elements report shows the Collection Conservative value for the Collection search. If an Industry EPD is selected then the Conservative Estimate is estimated based on the Industry EPD alone, not from all EPDs in the collection.

Achievable Target: At least 20% of matching EPDs have a Comparison Value better than the Achievable Target. If the search terms are accurate, it should be possible to source a practical product with this GWP or better. Because not all products have EPDs, consider approaching suppliers to ask for a product that beats the Achievable Target, and to provide an EPD that proves it.

If a Product EPD is selected, then the Achievable value in the elements report shows the Collection Achievable value for the Collection search. If an Industry EPD is selected then the Achievable Target is estimated based on the Industry EPD alone, not from all EPDs in the collection.

Average: The arithmetic mean of Comparison Values of EPDs in a collection. Usually reported along with the standard deviation of the collection. This is not included in the project planner or building level calculations but is included for reference purposes.

Target: Reduction target value defined by the user in the Reference & Comparison section of the building project.

Reported and Comparison GWP Values for an EPD

Reported Value: The GWP number reported in an EPD for a given declared or functional unit. This value represents the average value estimated for a given EPD and does not account for uncertainty in the LCA model and variability across suppliers, groups of products, or manufacturing facilities.

Comparison Value: A GWP number calculated by applying an uncertainty factor to the Reported Value. This value represents the conservative GWP estimate for an EPD while accounting for lack of specificity and for general sources of uncertainty in LCA. The scale of default uncertainty values is determined by BT based on analysis of each product category.

Default Values

If no Product EPD is selected, then the Comparison Value defaults to the Conservative Estimate.

Organizing Buildings

Tabs under the Plan & Compare buildings allow users to view, create, copy, delete, share, organize, sort, and compare building projects. The quick action buttons in the Details column can be used to view results, set sharing settings, copy the project, open and edit the project, or delete the project, respectively.

All of the icons may not appear if you do not have Manage or Write permission to a particular project or folder.

Projects can be organized into Folders and Super Folders, which work similarly as a folder structure in any other file explorer. Note that building projects can only be placed inside Folders, and not Super Folders. Similarly, folders can only be placed inside Super Folders. The simple folder structure is as follows:

Projects can also be sorted using data in any of the Name, Address, or Last Updated columns. Default sorting is done using the Last Updated column.

Each project and folder may have a set of tags to the right of its name to indicate specific sharing settings, such as Private, Shared, or Public, and to indicate if the project was imported from ACC or tallyLCA.

Comparing Buildings

Building projects can be compared from any of the Plan & Compare Buildings subpages. First, check the selection box next to the projects to be compared and then click on the Compare Buildings button that appears after at least two buildings are selected.

Sharing Buildings

Building projects can be shared with other users or with user groups using (1) the sharing icon on the My Buildings page or (2) the sharing button at the top of a building project page.

The project can be shared with individual users or user groups by typing the name or email address of the user(s) and clicking the Add button. The sharing settings include additional options for the permissions of each shared user:

Read: Allows the shared user to see the project but not make any changes.

Write: Allows the user to edit, add or remove building data, but not change who it is shared with.

Manage: Allows the user to change any information in the project and change the sharing permissions. There is always at least one user (by default the original author) who has Manage access.

To ensure company information is not lost, the Admin of an organization can Impersonate any Employee of the org, which allows them to view, edit, and manage any Building Projects managed by that Employee.

Multiple users can view the same project simultaneously. When this happens, the users’ initials will appear in the top-right corner of the building project page.

The project can also be edited by multiple users simultaneously but note that only one user can save the simultaneously added or edited elements. If the second user tries to save their progress, they will be prompted to reload the project (losing their progress), save a copy of their work, or overwrite the changes made by the user who saved their edits first.

Publishing Buildings

A user may make a project Public by (1) sharing the project with the user group titled “Public” in the sharing settings or (2) using the Anonymize and Publish button at the top of the project page.

Anonymizing Buildings

The Anonymize button slightly obscures the details of the building project per the following:

● Building name will be replaced by a random name (e.g., "Red Lion 12").

● Building location will be reduced to city only.

● Elements will be replaced by generic names.

● Area, floors, and most quantities will be tweaked by ~10% and then rounded off.

● Project author’s identity will be hidden.

When the process is done, users will receive an email and they will have an opportunity to review the anonymized building before publishing it.

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