What is EPIC?
The Early Phase Integrated Carbon (EPIC) assessment is a tool built by EHDD to support climate-positive design decisions in early project phases when data is scarce but the potential for carbon reduction is high. To overcome the scarcity of data, EPIC uses a model that combines regionally-specific background data, forward-looking projections, peer-reviewed findings, and common sense assumptions to assess the relative impact of a variety of carbon reduction measures on a project’s embodied and operational carbon footprints.
Aggressive time-based targets have been set for AEC projects as part of a society-wide strategy to combat the climate crisis. To meet these targets, quantification of the project’s carbon footprint cannot wait until later project stages, at which point many impactful decisions have already been made. EPIC is designed as the first step in an iterative low-carbon design process, setting out strategies and project-level targets that can be refined throughout the project lifecycle.
EPIC is designed to allow a user to enter a strict minimum of project parameters and to test the effects of some of the most meaningful carbon reduction strategies on some crucial parts of a project’s carbon footprint. The input parameters are very basic—floor area, site area, location, and typology—to allow for maximum flexibility. These parameters are insufficient, of course, to describe the complexity of any real project. In rough terms, EPIC is designed as a conceptual parallel to ‘shoebox’ energy or daylight models—the results do not correspond directly to a real building but can help us to understand which strategies could perform well, are unlikely to succeed, or are worthy of more attention.
EPIC is not a high-resolution design tool.
EPIC is designed to accurately represent the effects of low-carbon strategies, not precisely model individual design parameters. EPIC can help your team compare a net-zero energy renovation with mass timber new construction, but is not designed to capture differences in, say, efficiency gains from changing structural bay sizes or specifying a particular mechanical system over another.
EPIC is not a whole-building life cycle assessment (wbLCA) tool.
Some lifecycle phases are included in the model, others are not. Our decisions about what to include or exclude are geared towards the most impactful decisions made during a project’s early phases that can be supported by available data. These choices are based on our experience, our conversations with experts, and available data. A wbLCA is generally assessed against a 60-year time horizon, but EPIC looks at emissions over 30 years to focus on meeting time-based climate targets. As EPIC develops, we hope to expand the range of data that it integrates and, as a consequence, the range of decisions it can support.