With thousands of templates, the Template Library is probably one of the best features in the eToolLCD software. Without it, eTool LCAs wouldn’t be such a breeze to create. As part of the eTool community, we highly encourage our users to create more global and validated templates as a contribution to our ever-expanding library.
Here are some of the benefits of creating new templates:
- Easier for you and other users to repeat results
- More consistent, accurate and comparable assessments
- Geographically more relevant templates
- A deeper understanding of how your LCA works
Note that users with the relevant paid subscription (Enterprise or Specialist) can now assign ownership of private/custom templates to their organisation. Please refer to this support post for more information.
The following are some video tutorials on how to create templates.
Simple Template Cloning and Adjusting
Speed up the process by importing multiple templates at once.
Template for Infrastructure
This video shows you how to build custom templates so that you can add in bespoke elements to your LCA such as transport. We have used a road as an example to show you how eTool LCA can be used to analyse and compare civil structures or infrastructure.
Method 1 – Clone & Edit (Nested Templates)
There are a couple of methods to go about creating a new template. The first method is easier however it requires finding another template that is very similar to what you need. With such a large library, it is quite likely that you’ll find another template that is pretty close to what you need. If you are lucky enough to find one such template, this method is for you.
- Find a template that is as similar as possible to what you’re needing (try different word combinations, abbreviations and terminology). Don’t forget to read the template description to make sure it is what you think it is. Validated templates (those with a ‘thumbs-up’ icon) are ideal however this isn’t critical.
- When you have opened the template, read the template description, check the template unit/quantity and inputs to make sure it is what you’re expecting and that it is a quality template. Well made templates usually have references for their quantities and service life and a sufficiently detailed description. When you’re certain, click on the ‘Action’ button under the template name and click on ‘Clone’.
- A pop-up window will appear with a couple of options. The first one only clones the master template but retains the same nested templates. The second option also clones the nested templates. The second option is generally not necessary unless you are planning to create new/edit the nested templates. In this case, we will choose the first option. You can also rename your new template at this point if you like however you can always rename the template at a later date. The clone action automatically adds ‘(copy)’ to the end of the new template’s name. *TIP – when naming templates, try to include details that makes it easy to find in the library and differentiate from other similar templates.
- In the new template, make the required changes. Wherever possible, edit/remove existing templates under the ‘Nested Templates’ tab and choose validated templates when adding new features/elements.
- Generally we discourage manually adding in individual elements in the different categories. The image comparison below shows why it is generally better to use nested templates within your templates. With the nested template system, related elements are grouped together into one nested template across all categories (example on the left). This makes understanding the template and editing it easier. If you are unable to find a suitable template to nest within your new template, best practice would be to create a new template specifically for this feature using Method 2. In saying that, it isn’t WRONG to have individual elements mixed with nested templates either as it can be suitable for certain applications such as adding a cost factor or a single element that doesn’t have other associated elements under People and Equipment.
- Once you’ve made all the required changes and additions, make sure you update the template description with all the changes.
Navigating Nested Templates
Method 2 – From Scratch
In Method 2 you are essentially creating a whole new template instead of cloning. The most important thing to bear in mind with this method is to make sure that the ‘big ticket items’ are captured in your template. Often it is not possible to account for every item that goes into say, for example, a computer. However as long as you have accounted for the items that contribute to the main impacts of the computer (i.e operational energy, battery, cables/wires, plastic casing, assembly, transportation, service/replacement life) and references, you’ll have a fairly decent template.
- In the Template Library, create a new template and fill out the following prompts as required. Be sure to select the latest LCI Source that is relevant for your template.
- Click ‘Save’. Note that you can still flesh out your description after this step.
- Note down all assumptions you’ve made for the template and describe it in detail in the template description. All this detail makes it easier to validate the template and ensures that other users can check the template inputs for themselves and feel confident about the template. You can look for a validated template as reference
- Under the categories tab, you’ll now need to input every element that is relevant for the template. Bearing in mind that you may need to enter items to account for assembly (People & Equipment) and operational energy/water. Make sure that all elements that you enter come under the same category as the template for consistency. For more information on categories, please refer to this post. *Note that you can write expressions into the quantity field for the software to do the calculations for you. This allows the number to change depending on the template quantity or other functions in the design that the template is added into. For more information on expressions, visit this page. You can manually edit any of the details (recycled content, waste factor, transport, material life etc.) under the material you’re entering as long as you can provide supporting evidence to justify your figures. If you don’t know what they should be, you can leave them at default.
Method 3 – Combination
The third method is basically a combination of the first two methods where you have a mix of nested templates and standalone elements. There is no hard-and-fast rule on how the templates must be created as long as it’s well documented and based on sound assumptions.
VALIDATING YOUR CUSTOM TEMPLATE
Once you’re satisfied that your template is complete, you should submit it for Validation. Proceed to this article for more information on validated templates.