Guide to Recommendations: How to Improve Your Design

It is very important to record the LCA changes for all your various improvement strategies in your proposed/improved design. ISO14044 / EN15978 are very clear that LCA studies must be well documented and repeatable. When we’re using the study to assert an environmental improvement, the LCA report should contain an audit trail of how that environmental improvement was achieved. Otherwise it’s really hard to follow what is driving the performance gains and what strategies led to this improvement. In eToolLCD, the audit trail is made by ‘recording’ each improvement or recommendation which is transferred into your LCA report. This feature provides more depth and transparency to your report which is very powerful for any comparative study.

You’ll also be able to quantify the environmental and financial impacts of individual strategies versus other strategies thus allowing you to explore other avenues of improvement and develop new strategies for reducing impacts. We really want to promote this design feature of eToolLCD software and recording each improvement strategy is the first step for that.

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.

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.

Here are the basic steps to take before you start recording your improvement strategies:

  1. Model the Reference/Base/BAU design that you want to improve on.
  2. Conduct a self review check to see if you’ve missed anything.
  3. Under the ‘Action’ button, click ‘Cerify’ to submit the design for certification. This is to make sure that your base design has been modelled correctly and you’re not missing out on major items.
  4. Once certified, click ‘Clone’ under the ‘Action’ button to make a copy of the certified Reference/Base design which you should rename & specify as the ‘Proposed/Improved’ design.
  5. Before making any changes to the design, you first need to log what strategy(s) you’re planning to implement in the design in the ‘Recommendations’ tab.
  6. Define your ‘Base Design’ in the top right field on the page. This is very important otherwise the recommendations won’t record correctly.
  7. +Add New recommendations. You can add as many recommendations as you like and you can add more later if you think of anything else you’ve missed. If you want some suggestions, you can check out our Recommendations Library for which we have recorded a video about further down this page. The main thing is to make sure you log what the recommendation(s) is(are) before you make any changes to the actual design.

When you’re ready, you can move on to the next step.

How to Record Your Recommendations

Here’s a video tutorial on how to record your recommendations in eToolLCD. Skip to 3:00 minutes into the video if you want to jump straight to recording the recommendations.

When you’re recording your recommendations, you can check if you’ve modelled them correctly by checking if your recommendations ‘balance’ in the recommendations page. You will see this notification at the bottom of your recommendations table if they aren’t balancing. This is how we can ensure transparency in our improvement modelling.

Recommendations Library

Probably the best feature of eToolLCD and also where you gain the most value out of your LCA.

eToolLCD has an extensive library of recommendations to help designers improve the performance of their projects, or test different ideas to understand their contribution to impact reduction. It includes detailed description and technical assumptions to assist you implementing these recommendations in your designs.

For more guidance on how to model the library recommendations, you can read about it in this post.

Creating Your Own Recommendations

We’ve created a recommendation template here that you can use as a guide to write your own recommendations or search for “AAA Recommendation Template” in the Recommendation Library when you’re adding a new recommendation.

And that’s it! We hope you will have fun developing more strategies to get your project to zero carbon if not better. If you have developed any awesome recommendations (with solid research behind it) to add to our library please let us know!

Comparing with a Benchmark

Once you start recording your recommendations, you’ll notice there is a column for ‘% Savings Against Benchmark’. Basically, this will tell you the percentage savings each recommendation has compared to whichever design you have specified as your Benchmark. This design can be different from the ‘Base Design’ you have selected in the top right field.

To specify which design is your Benchmark for comparison, you need to go to the ‘Details’ tab of your design. Look for the ‘Benchmark’ field and click on the drop-down menu.

The first section of the menu features the main benchmark designs. These are mostly eTool generated AU or Global benchmarks. For more information about our benchmarking philosolphy, please read this post.

If you scroll further down the drop-down menu, you’ll find the sections ‘This Structure’ and ‘Other Designs’. These sections will feature designs from the same structure or any other design that you have created in your profile. Note that when you select from a different project/structure, you’ll need to be wary about whether the design is a fair comparison with your current design in terms of scope, LCI source & design function. For example, it would not make sense to compare an office building with a residential building.

After you’ve selected the correct design, be sure to click on the green ‘SAVE’ button at the bottom of the page to ensure that the changes have been made.

Once you’ve specified your benchmark, navigate back to your ‘Recommendations’ tab and your ‘% Savemark Against Benchmark’ column should now be populated.


You can also change the indicators for your recommendations to see the changes that each recommendation will cause for different indicators. The default is usually set at GWP however you can easily change this in the right side menu.

To the right of the Recommendation table under ‘Impact Summary’, click on the drop-down menu and select your desired indicator.

Your Recommendation table will how be displayed in the selected indicator.

Please read the Next Related Article: How to Model Recommendations from the Library

Other Related Article: Scenarios Feature

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