Data Import

The first step in Life Cycle Design modelling is to gather quantity data from various design documents, including 3D models, drawings, and cost plans. After that, you input all this data into eTool.

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Options to Import data into eTool

There are three main sources of data that can be imported into eTool.

From there, you have three methods to import that data into eTool to build your Life Cycle model depending on the form of your data. You can use a combination of methods to enter your data into eTool.

Revit Plug-in (automatic)

Using the eTool Revit plug-in to extract all element quantities and link them directly to your preferred eTool project. This method is advantageous as it captures quantities of elements rather than materials. The level of detail in the Revit model is not a concern, as long as the family type names are accurate. However the downside of this method is that it is highly dependant on the quality of the model. Therefore, some level of intervention is still required to check the quality of the model and that the import results do not have missing data or double counting.

For more information on how to use the Revit plug-in, please visit this support post: Revit plugin

Spreadsheet/CSV Bulk Data Import (semi-automatic)

This method imports bulk data in the form of a spreadsheet/CSV file into eTool. The source of the data that goes into the spreadsheet/CSV can come from a hybrid of BIM, cost plans/bill of quantities or drawings. This method allows for direct exports from BIM software like Revit or ArchiCAD and supports computational processes using visual programming languages like Dynamo in Revit or Grasshopper in Rhino. Material schedules can be exported as spreadsheets/CSV from BIM models as needed. The exported BIM data can also be combined & cross-checked against drawings and cost plans to ensure comprehensiveness.

In our experience, this method with data sourced from cost plans/bill of quantities is one of the most reliable and effective data import methods. This method provides the opportunity to scrutinise and aggregate the data in detail which ensures the quality and accuracy of your LCA.

Manual Input

Manually input quantities from available documentation such as cost plans, BIM models, and drawings. This method is most useful for when you only need to make a small update to your design. If you’re using this method for your whole project, you will need to be very organised about documenting your materials take-off, calculations, sources, assumptions and references to keep track of your process. We generally do not recommend this method unless it’s a very small project or if conducting very early stage Target Setting assessments that use our whole building target setting templates.

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Bulk Data Import: Spreadsheet/CSV Import

Bulk Import Data is a powerful feature that empowers users to upload multiple pieces of information simultaneously. At the project level, it facilitates the import of multiple structures and designs at once. Similarly, at the design level, users can upload all their templates simultaneously, streamlining the process.

Project Level Data Import

For detailed instructions on how to import data at the Project level using a spreadsheet, please refer to this support post:

Project Level Data Import

Design Level Data Import

I’d like to demonstrate how you can import data into eTool. Do you typically work with a cost plan, drawings, or a BIM model? We prefer working with cost plans because they facilitate data aggregation, aligning well with eTool templates. When provided with a BIM model, we usually export the schedule and work from there.

Cost plan example

1.Generate CSV File

I will now show you an example of a cost plan related to building. When working with a cost plan, we recommend adding additional columns for eTool input.

Include a column for eTool quantity, matching the quantity units in eTool templates. You may need to calculate the eTool quantity, adjusting for any discrepancies. For example, if the cost plan uses the m2 unit and the template uses volume (m3) for the foundation unit, additional information on the foundation’s dimensions may be required for accurate calculation. If information is not available, it is acceptable to make reasonable assumptions based on references from other projects or your experience, ensuring they are documented for tracking and updates. We recommend users to record assumptions in a dedicated column when conducting an LCA for their own sake. This will also assist the reviewer in case the design is submitted for certification, making the review process smoother. Exclude items in the cost plan that are irrelevant or minor that wouldn’t impact the LCA applying the cut-off criteria is also recommended.

Add another column for eTool templates, and proceed to select an appropriate template by following these steps:

  1. Visit eTool, click the “Add template” button in the design
  2. Search for relevant templates using keywords like “concrete.” If a term doesn’t yield results, try different words, as templates aim for global applicability.
  3. Select a template, ensure its suitability through the description
  4. Copy the title, and paste it in the spreadsheet. 

For deeper template details, add it to the design, click “Edit” to view information, sources, and references. Although most of the references used are based on Australian data, it is highly unlikely that construction methods for major and the most common building materials will vary significantly from country to country. Therefore, the references are mostly still relevant for the location of the project.

In the eTool template quantity column, you may choose to aggregate some items while repeating others. Decide whether to combine or keep them separate for reporting purposes. It’s important to note that the same material allocated to different categories, such as Substructure and Superstructure, should be kept separate to ensure accurate allocation of impacts.

After that, you can create a new sheet to refine the input, basically cleaning up to make sure there is no excess information. Then, export it as a CSV file. In the CSV file, you need to make sure that there are not blank boxes, and Quantity column is recognised as numbers before importing to eTool.

Note: Ensure quantity column is recognised as numbers in the spreadsheet before importing to eTool.

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2. Import into eTool

Set up your Project, make sure that the function is set up correctly. You can manually add the functions, but if you have let’s say 50 functions and you don’t want to add them manually, you can bulk import the functions as well.

Then, go to the Import tab to import templates and functions. For more details on import functions please refer to Functions: bulk import and reporting support post.

Follow the following steps to import your templates:

Step 1: Upload File

Step 2: Set up

  1. Choose the preferred matching process and let the software automatically apply templates or select matching items manually.
  2. Define functions or Asset ID in the Function tab. If the “Whole Building” option is selected, templates will be matched to functions based on the import file.
  3. Match imported column to eTool fields. Regarding Template Name column, Bulk import feature will automatically append the name that you select here in front of the original name of the template. That can be useful when you use the multiple templates that are the same but they are for different areas. For example, if you use the concrete 30Mpa, 1% of reinforcement for footings and retaining wall, you can define the name in a new template name column and the software will append them in the eTool template name column. That’s how you can identify the different parts of the design in eTool. For the last column, ‘Ignore’ the eTool Template name in this case but it would be handy to have the spreadsheet ready so you can check which eTool template to match.
  4. Click ‘Next’

Step 3: Match

eTool has a learning function that remembers previously selected templates for specific items, saving time during subsequent imports. For any unmatched templates, refer to the spreadsheet, copy the eTool template name, and select the appropriate one. Click “Next”

Step 4: Success

Click ‘Finish’ Your LCA model is now complete.

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Video: How to Bulk Import using a CSV File

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Related articles:

Project Level Data Import

Data Collection & Entry

Materials Take-Off: Managing differences between design information and eTool templates

Exporting schedules from Revit

Aggregating Data for Import 

Function: Bulk import and reporting



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