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ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator

Introduction and User guide

  

Introduction to the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator

The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator is a tool to estimate the carbon footprint of construction equipment over its entire life cycle. It is applicable to all types of construction equipment, from mini excavators to wheel loaders and from generators to boom lifts (only hand tools are excluded).
 
The calculator estimates the carbon footprint of a piece of equipment per hour of use. Expressing the results per hour of (active) use enables comparisons across different types of equipment and over a wide range of ownership scenarios. The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator can be used to evaluate a single ownership period of a piece of equipment. The calculator’s results can for instance be used to:
  • Investigate which part of the life cycle has the largest contribution to the carbon footprint of equipment;
  • Compare different equipment use scenarios;
  • Study the effects of changes to a baseline use scenario, such as measures to reduce the footprint;
  • Evaluate the effects of alternative fuel consumption.
 


 
 
The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator requires basic information from the user regarding the equipment’s characteristics and use, for instance regarding its life span, utilisation and fuel consumption. The user is guided through these steps one-by-one. The information entered by the user is combined with background data to estimate the carbon footprint of the equipment over its entire life cycle.
 
 

Methodology of the calculator

 

One machine, during one ownership period

The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator is designed to assess the carbon footprint of one piece of construction equipment. Construction equipment is often owned by various owners before finally being discarded. The calculator can be used by any owner within the total life span of the equipment.


The life cycle of equipment

The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator considers the carbon footprint of the whole life cycle of construction equipment. The results encompass the manufacturing of the equipment, the use phase and end-of-life treatment. The Calculator is specifically designed to assess the impact of use scenarios of construction equipment. The user can specify key parameters:
  • lifetime and utilization
  • transport to/from the job site
  • energy consumption (type and efficiency)
  • motor oil consumption
 
Although the impact of the manufacturing of the equipment itself is taken into account in the calculator and in the results, the calculator is not a tool to perform life cycle assessment (LCA) of the manufacturing of the equipment. For the impact of the manufacturing and also for the end-of-life treatment of the equipment, the Calculator makes use of carbon footprint results from existing LCA studies. OEMs might have carbon footprint results of their products, or are in the position to (let) perform LCA to calculate the carbon footprint of a specific piece of equipment. If no LCA results are available, the Calculator can provide an estimate of the carbon footprint of equipment manufacturing and end-of-life based on its weight.
 
Click here for more information on the use of existing LCA results in the Calculator.

 
Figure 1 – Visual representation of the lifecycle of equipment


 

Carbon footprint: impact on climate change

The ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator calculates the impact of using equipment on climate change. The climate change impact is also often referred to as the carbon footprint of a product. The carbon footprint measures the contribution of a product to global climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases.
 
In the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator, the carbon footprint of all greenhouse gases is taken into account. CO2 or carbon dioxide is the most important and well-known greenhouse gas. Other important greenhouses gases include methane (CH4) and dinitrogen monoxide (N2O). These other gas emissions are included and expressed in the final result in their CO2 equivalent.
 

From user input to carbon footprint per hour of use

The calculator’s results are expressed per hour of active use of the equipment. This is done to enable fair comparison between use scenarios. In addition, this makes it possible to use the tool for any ownership period.
 
For better understanding, the figure below shows an example how information in the calculator is translated to the impact per hour.




 

To start using the calculator you can register or simply start a new calculation.

 



Online Calculator

 


Calculation setup: Equipment definition

The starting point of the calculator is the definition of the construction equipment. The calculator requires basic information of the equipment:
 
The Type of Machine and the Version and Name are entered as a reference for the user. This information is shown on the results screen and is used when saving your entry. It is not used for any calculations.
 
The Equipment weight (in kg) is an important parameter in the calculator. The calculator uses it to determine the load factor of trucks for transportation. In addition, it can be used to estimate the impact of the production and end-of-life life cycle stages of the equipment in Step 1 (if no existing LCA covering these phases is available).


Calculation step 1: Equipment production

The production phase of the equipment encompasses all steps from raw material extraction up to the point that the equipment leaves the OEM’s factory. The carbon footprint of equipment production therefore covers raw material extraction, production of intermediates, product part manufacturing, assembly and all transport steps in between. This corresponds to a so-called ‘cradle-to-gate’ life cycle assessment.
 
The calculator offers two options to determine the carbon footprint of equipment production:
  1. Entering results from an existing LCA (cradle-to-gate);
  2. Using the equipment weight to estimate the carbon footprint.

1. Entering results from an existing LCA

If an LCA has already been carried out for the construction equipment, the carbon footprint results can be entered in the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator. If an LCA is available, it is advised to use this option.
 
Note that the LCA must meet some conditions to be usable:
  • The LCA should report a carbon footprint result (‘impact on climate change’, ‘global warming potential’). This result is expressed in kilograms CO2-equivalent;
  • The LCA result corresponds to one piece of equipment;
  • Ideally, the LCA applies to the specific product being evaluated in the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator. If an LCA for a similar piece of equipment is available (with similar weight and material composition), this can be used as a fall-back option. However, this may affect the accuracy of the overall results.
  • Scope:
    • The LCA should contain all relevant life cycle steps from cradle-to-gate;
    • The LCA should include the impact of energy consumption, use of auxiliary materials/chemicals, water consumption, final waste treatment of material losses and transportation or raw materials and parts;
    • Note that in Step 1, only the carbon footprint of equipment production (cradle-to-gate) should be entered. Any climate change impact related to the use phase and end-of-life should be excluded. If the existing LCA also included the end-of-life, these carbon footprint results can be entered in Step 6.
 
If the LCA also assesses the end-of-life phase, the results for end-of-life should have been reported separately. Be sure to exclude any end-of-life benefits in the impact of production. End-of-life benefits can be entered in step 6.
 

2. Using a weight-based estimate

The second option is to use the equipment weight (entered in Step 0) to calculate the carbon footprint of equipment production. The calculator does this in the background, and no further user input is required.
 
Please note that using the weight-based approach provides a first estimate of the carbon footprint of equipment production. It can be used as an indication, but is not as accurate as a product-specific LCA study. However, for many construction equipment types, the production phase is not the most important life cycle stage per hour of use.


Calculation step 2: Use phase – Transport

In this step, information is gathered to assess the carbon footprint of transporting the equipment to and from construction sites. The impact of transportation arises from the diesel consumption of the truck or van which is used for transportation. In the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator, the impact of transportation is calculated using four user inputs:
  • the load capacity of the truck/van, in tonne;
  • the load factor, as a percentage;
  • the (one-way) distance over which the equipment is transported to a construction site, in kilometre;
  • The number of jobs per year.
 
For the first three parameters, you may use calculated averages or ‘typical’ values based on average practice within your company. But of course: the more specific, the better.
 
The load capacity is the nominal weight that the vehicle can transport. For example, a large van has a load capacity of 1.2 tonnes, whereas a large truck has a load capacity of 13 tonnes (excluding a trailer).
 
The load factor expresses how full the vehicle transporting the construction equipment typically is. A value of 100% means that the vehicle is loaded to the maximum of its load capacity. For example: a truck with a load capacity of 10 tonnes carrying only a 3 tonne boom lift, has a load factor of 30%. However, if the trucks are typically carrying several boom lifts and/or other equipment at the same time, the load factor can be much higher.
 
The (one-way) distance to a construction site and the number of jobs at construction sites per year should be entered. Note that both the delivery of the equipment and as well as the pick-up is automatically taken into account in the calculations.
 
With these four parameters, the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator calculates the carbon footprint of transporting the equipment. It can be noted that some of the requested values may differ from case to case or over time. For example, some trucks may be full while others may be empty, and some job sites are further away than others. Therefore, calculated averages or ‘typical’ values can be used to define transport parameters.


Calculation step 3: Use phase – Lifetime and utilisation

In Step 3, the calculator requires three parameters regarding the lifetime and utilisation of the construction equipment:
  • Total expected operating hours in total lifetime of the equipment;
  • Ownership period in years;
  • Total expected operating hours used during your company's ownership.
 
Important: The operating hours are the hours the equipment are actively in use. It does NOT represent the full amount of hours that the equipment is owned or rented to a third party.
 
The three parameters are used to divide the impact of equipment production and end-of-life between different owners. The carbon footprint of production and end-of-life only happen once per machine, but the equipment may be used by different owners during its life span. The first user of a machine should not be considered responsible for the entire carbon footprint of its production, and the last user should not be considered responsible for the carbon footprint of the end-of-life.
 
In the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator, the production and end-of-life impacts are therefore divided over the entire lifetime of the machine. If a machine is for instance expected to run for 10,000 hours during its life and one company uses it for 5,000 hours, this company is responsible for 50% of the impact of the production and end-of-life stages.
 
The table below provides common sources for deriving the values.
 
 Parameter  Source(s)
 Total expected operating hours in total lifetime of   the equipment
 
 OEM technical specifications
 Ownership period in years
 
 Owner experience
 Total (expected) operating hours used during your   company's ownership
 
 Based on measurements or expert   estimates
 


Calculation step 4: Use phase – Energy consumption

This part of the calculation focuses on the energy consumption of the equipment during its use. In the calculator, the user selects the energy type (fuel or electricity), defines the average energy consumption per hour and can select renewable options (renewable electricity and biofuel).
 

Energy consumption

When entering the energy consumption, it is preferred to use measured data. This can for instance be derived using fuel receipts or electricity bills for a certain period of time (month, year) divided by the actual operating hours during that period of time. Second best is an expert estimate based on practice or an estimate based on OEM technical data.

Important: Please enter the average energy consumption per hour. When making an estimate: be sure to account for stand-by fuel or electricity consumption.
 

Type of fuel and electricity

For fuel, the calculator enables the user to select the share of biofuel in the fuel blend, typically 15 to 20% in the EU. The definition of biofuel by the EU is as follows: “Biofuels are liquid or gaseous transport fuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol which are made from biomass.” Source: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/renewable-energy/biofuels/overview_en 
 
For electricity, the country of its origin is asked for. The country of origin defines the impact of carbon footprint per kWh, since the composition if the electricity mix differs per country. A box for 100% renewable electricity can be ticked.
 
Important: renewable electricity should only be selected if the owner of the equipment is responsible for the generation of the electricity. If you buy electricity off the grid, even from a supplier that generates renewable energy, do not tick the box.
 
 

Calculation step 5: Use phase – Maintenance: motor oil consumption

In Step 5, the user can enter the annual motor oil consumption for the equipment. The motor oil consumption per year is divided in the calculator by the operating hours per year to derive the impact per hour.


Calculation step 6: Equipment end-of-life

End-of-life is the final life cycle phase of equipment. The equipment is disposed of after many years of use, often by various owners. The equipment or its parts may be recycled, incinerated to recover energy, or landfilled.
 
In the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator, the approach for end-of-life is comparable to equipment production. The calculator offers two options to determine the carbon footprint of equipment end-of-life:
  1. Entering results from an existing LCA (end-of-life only);
  2. Using the equipment weight to estimate the carbon footprint.
 
Recycling of material can lead to a net climate benefit. This is a negative figure (such as: -1.200 kg CO2 eq.). This is because recycling efforts increase the total supply of recycled material. This decreases the need to produce primary materials. This avoided primary production is assigned as a climate benefit.


1. Entering results from an existing LCA

If a LCA has already been carried out for the construction equipment that includes a separately shown result for end-of-life, the climate change impact results for end-of-life can be entered in the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator. If this is the case, it is advised to use this option.
 
Note that the LCA must meet some conditions to be usable:
  • The LCA should report a carbon footprint result. This result is expressed in kilograms CO2 equivalent;
  • The LCA result corresponds to one piece of equipment;
  • Ideally, the LCA applies to the specific product being evaluated in the ERA Equipment CO2 Calculator. If an LCA for a similar piece of equipment is available (with similar weight and material composition), this can be used as a fall-back option. However, this may affect the accuracy of the overall results.
  • Scope:
    • The entered value should contain only the carbon footprint related to end-of-life. The impact of the equipment production (cradle-to-gate; entered in Step 1) and use phase should be excluded;
    • The LCA result for the equipment’s end-of-life may include credits for avoided primary material.


2. Using a weight-based estimate

The second option is to use the equipment weight (entered in Step 0) to calculate the impact of the equipment’s end-of-life. The calculator can do this in the background. It is optional to select a specific recycling rate, from 0 to 100%.
 
Please note that using the weight-based approach provides a first estimate of the carbon footprint of equipment’s end-of-life. It can be used as an indication, but is not as accurate as a product-specific LCA study. However, for many construction equipment types, the end-of-life phase is not the most important life cycle stage.
 
Note that these values are negative because they include credits for recycling materials at their end-of-life. In the earlier LCAs, average end-of-life scenarios were constructed based on the current average treatment routes for the various materials in Europe.