Guide to Recommendations: Modeling Recommendations from the Library

Congratulations! You’ve just successfully certified your Business-As-Usual/Reference Design! You’re now about to proceed to the next step in your LCD process.

To avoid possible discrepancies between the BAU/Reference Design, we always recommend cloning the BAU/Reference Design after it has been certified. This is because the review process will probably involve changes and edits to the design which, if you’ve already started on the Proposed/Improved Design, will then need to be reflected there too. This can be tedious and provide plenty of room for mistakes/omissions especially if there are a lot of changes required in the BAU/Reference Design.

Before you start modeling your changes, you should scrutinise your design to identify ‘hot spot’ areas what require attention. Please refer to this post for tips on how to do this.

Please note that we have now launched our new Scenarios Feature for easier recommendation recording functionality! Please click on the link above for more information on how to start using this feature. For BREEAM projects, the Scenarios post will also have a link to Optioneering specific guidance.

Note that even when using the Scenarios feature, most of the way to model the recommendations available in our library will remain the same. You just won’t have to go through the ‘recording’ feature.

Adding Recommendations

Once you have a good understanding of your design’s hot spots and have identified the areas in your design that requires improvement, you can visit at our recommendations library or have a look at the recommendation templates in the ‘Recommendations’ tab in your Design to explore the options available.


To help new users with little experience with LCA, we have a new ‘Action’ for recommendations where you can add whole ‘Collections’ depending on which tags you’ve selected. This is a quick way to add multiple recommendations that are suitable for your project and then rearranging them or removing any recommendations that are not suitable. You can always add more recommendations at any point as well.

Once you’ve selected a collection, your recommendations tab will be populated with all the templates that have the tag that you’ve selected. You may now edit/rename the recommendations and rearrange as you see fit.

Things to Note

Now that you know how to add recommendations to your design from the library, the following is a list of tips for ensuring smooth recommendation modeling process:

  1. The order in which the recommendations are applied is important as many of them are inter-related. For example, energy monitoring will help reduce overall energy consumption, so the PV system should be specified at the end based on the reduced energy load. In another example, low flow shower heads will reduce total water consumption, which will affect the rain water tank size if plumbed into the house. Also, if materials are changed, their possible affect on the thermal performance of the building fabric should be considered (i.e. if concrete floors are changed, a change in heating/cooling requirements may also occur). Because this process is dependant, inter-related recommendations need to be made in a specific order. One way to help you plan this is to arrange the templates in the order in which they need to be applied. This effort at the beginning will save a lot of grief later.
  2. Before you start recording any recommendations, make sure that the ‘Base Design’ field under the ‘Recommendations’ tab of your improved design is defined and with the correct design. This is critical because the recommendations recorded are relative to this input and it is not interchangeable.
  3. If you’re having trouble setting/finding your base design in the ‘Base Design’ field, it might be due to your design not having been specified properly in the ‘Details’ tab of the base & improved design. For each Structure, you can only have one design as ‘LCA – Base’ and one design as ‘LCA – Business as Usual’ but you can have multiple ‘LCA – Improved’ designs.
  4. When you’re recording your recommendations, always check that your recommendations table ‘balances’ after each recommendation is saved. You will see a notification at the bottom of your recommendations table if they aren’t balancing. This is an indication that something went wrong with the modeling and that you should redo the last recommendation (assuming you caught it at the right time). 
  5. Another sign that you might not have modeled a recommendation correctly is when you see an INCREASE in impacts instead of a reduction after you’ve saved the recommendation. This is particularly true for recommendations added from the template library as these strategies have been tried and tested (assuming a high carbon electricity grid) to provide savings. Double check that you haven’t made any mistakes in the modeling of the recommendation. Usually the problem is something like you’ve forgotten to delete the old template that you’re replacing so you’ve essentially doubled the impacts.
  6. Recommendations can be reversed, but it may be tricky and tedious depending on what strategies you’ve implemented. You will need to know exactly what you did (i.e. inputs for templates you deleted, original scale factors, bulk swap factors etc..) and undo them. Scaling factors are multiplied, so reversing will require division and so on. Before making major changes, consider cloning your template/design so that if you make an error, you can revert back to something more recent. Note down the changes in the recommendation descriptions themselves as you go for more transparency and easier tracking.
  7. The software can time out while you’re recording, so know what you need to do before you start recording. Otherwise it may cut out on you before you finish your changes.

Recording Recommendations

EN15978 requires transparent and replicate-able documentation of improvement strategies. Therefore it is very important that you RECORD all the changes that you’ve made in your Proposed/Improved Design as individual strategies.

To start the recording, you’ll need to hit the red ‘Record’ button in the recommendation window BEFORE you make any changes to the design.

After you’ve completed all the steps for your recommendation, remember to hit the ‘Stop Recording’ button at the top left corner of your screen to finish recording your recommendation.

Recommendation Modeling Procedures

So how do you model the recommendations? Every recommendation (especially if it’s from our library) are different with different assumptions. Therefore it is imperative that you read the descriptions in the recommendation thoroughly prior to modeling/recording the changes. The changes to be modeled can be as simple as replacing (deleting) an old template with a new template, applying an energy use scale factor, adding another template to a product and etc.

Click on the following links to the relevant strategies.

Operational Energy Strategies

Materials Related Strategies

Energy Generation Strategies

Embodied Carbon Webinar

Other Related Article: Scenarios Feature, Modeling Option Designs for BREEAM 2018

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