ORIS: an easy tool for Carbon calculation


Connecting real material databases at a very early stage enables us to measure, predict  and support informed decision making based on energy and carbon performance in the infrastructure sector. While, in the past twenty years, a significant increase of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research for infrastructure construction projects was seen, data collection and management still remains one of the main challenges. Having a capability to combine the  planning, execution, maintenance and recycling on one platform greatly contributes to reducing the effort and assessment execution time and early stage decision makings. ORIS is the first web-based material platform enabling more sustainable infrastructure construction with optimized solutions, bringing an assessment of different pavement design options within a geolocalized material sourcing environment. Based on the embedding local design catalogs and its automatized data-driven approach, an exhaustive LCA analysis is performed on infrastructure for its whole life cycle conformed to LCA standards. As an example, a case study in the United Kingdom demonstrated the life cycle carbon and cost assessment with a significant contribution of use phase modules (30-40% of the total) and the potential of 56% reduction in the global warming indicator from the product and construction phase and 24% in total life cycle saving 720 k£.  

700 000 km of new roads are built worldwide each year. Materials and pavement design choices  impact up to 60% of the cost of a road project and about 85% of its overall greenhouse gas emissions. Most infrastructure are designed according to standardized and historical infrastructure design methods, where materials availability and adequacy are considered only later at the construction phase due to the  difficulty in data collection and the lack of systematic approach. Such an approach from the infrastructure ecosystem (owners, investors, designers, contractors) lacks to integrate sustainability requirements such as climate change mitigation, natural resources scarcity or social disparities. 

To meet these challenges, an exhaustive and data-driven approach is required in order to promptly and seamlessly perform an extended level analysis of an infrastructure pavement design performance during its whole life cycle stages, conformed to LCA standards (ISO 14040/14044 and EN15804). From the original construction - including material productions, transport and construction operations - with customized options in terms of materials actual properties and pavement solutions, the developed tool expands its analysis to the infrastructure use and maintenance phases, up to the end-of-life stage, compared to previously developed infrastructure LCA approaches that in most cases only consider production and construction stages.

The conventional road LCA approach includes only the impact of product, transport, construction and maintenance operations, while the impact during the use phase would help with a more precise evaluation and to improve decision making. To fill this gap, a methodology dedicated to a holistic road LCA with an extensive database with verified material and carbon data was developed, combined with climate data from NASA. 

There is today a huge trade-off between high material demand and climate concerns while some reports introduced the idea of sustainable development with a focus on a proper management of material supply to mitigate resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. ORIS platform gathering construction materials information and knowledge makes it accessible for the entire construction ecosystem. The tool paves the way to sustainable infrastructure construction through its digital platform providing circular, low-carbon, and resource optimized solutions for safer and more resilient infrastructure.