Carbon Expert of the Month January 2022
Building LCA Expert, Founder and Director of LCA Support
Anni Oviir is a building LCA expert and EPD verifier from Estonia. She holds a BSc in Environmental Technology from the University of Tartu and an MSc in Resource Efficiency in Architecture and Planning from the HafenCity University of Hamburg. In 2019 she founded LCA Support, the first LCA specialist company in Estonia.
“…it immediately became obvious that our buildings are both the biggest environmental challenge but also our biggest potential for doing things better.”
“With so many building carbon regulations in place across Europe (and more on the way), there is a constantly increasing demand for third party verified EPDs.”
What led you to become a construction carbon expert?
I’m a typical Estonian in that I grew up close to nature, exploring the wilderness in my spare time and learning about its inhabitants and the complex ecosystems that they form. As a result, I chose to study Environmental Technology at university so I could put that care for the environment into action. I didn’t go into that thinking I would end up in the construction sector but it immediately became obvious that our buildings are both the biggest environmental challenge but also our biggest potential for doing things better.
Carbon counting is the most burning aspect of this, quite literally, so my passion and career became intertwined with the goal to reduce the environmental impacts of construction in this way.
After building up my experience working in the sector, I then started my own company at LCA Support in 2019, which offers LCA consultation services for the construction sector in Estonia and increasingly beyond.
We are the first company in Estonia to offer expertise in this field, which has meant educating the local market about how they can use it to grow their companies and also shaping our national legislation for it. We’ve grown fast in a few years and have invested in talent to help us serve the growing demand. As the leading experts in our country, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders and plenty of challenges but we see that as a very good thing.
What kind of projects do you typically work on, and in what role?
LCA support focuses on LCAs in the construction sector so our services include whole building LCAs or carbon optimisation in various stages of the project, as well as building product carbon optimisation and EPD projects. I’m also an EPD verifier so verification is a big part of my work too and that gives me a good opportunity to see things from all layers. With so many building carbon regulations in place across Europe (and more on the way), there is a constantly increasing demand for third party verified EPDs.
The local market here in Estonia is still figuring out how to fit this process into the larger building design process, such as when it should be carried out and by who, but that’s where we’ve used our voice in educating and shaping the industry here to emphasise that these calculations should take place at the earliest possible stage in any project in order to maximise the benefits.
Which projects and achievements are you the proudest of?
Estonia is a relative newcomer to LCAs compared to the rest of Europe but that gives us an opportunity to learn from what’s gone before us elsewhere and figure out how we can leapfrog to become leaders in this area.
As part of this, I was asked to join the team at Tallinn Technology University where we have just completed a study on behalf of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to propose a carbon counting method for buildings in Estonia. This is likely to serve as the basis for Estonian regulation and therefore could have a huge impact for the entire construction sector in Estonia.
How do you see carbon performance evolving on the market?
There are quite significant differences across national markets regarding the readiness of the construction industry to take on both the challenges and opportunity of reducing carbon emissions. I think governments and local municipalities have a large role to play in that.
Here in Estonia, there are already a number of key companies that understand why their carbon performance matters. These tend to be companies that are growing faster internationally and exporting. But the bulk of the market still needs a paradigm shift to avoid being left behind and that will take a few more years.
What are the key value drivers you use to make the business case for materials carbon?
Interest in carbon counting is steadily rising in Estonia and the biggest driving force is exports. Even without our own national regulations in place yet, our construction sector economy is export-focused and so companies are figuring out that they need EPDs to be more competitive.
If there are no EPDs available then their customers abroad often have to resort to generic overestimates and that can make the difference between whether a whole construction project gets the go ahead or not.
However, I am also keen to see an understanding of carbon counting ripple through the local economy and become ingrained into how we build here too. Our own legislation, combined with education, is important for that.
“I really appreciate One Click LCA’s customer support service. If there’s anything unclear or any issues with the calculation, then I can get help straight away. This is very important to us as our projects are often time-critical.”
How does One Click LCA help you achieve your goals?
I’ve been a big fan of One Click LCA since its earliest days and am really pleased with how it has been developed over time. We haven’t needed to use any other tools as One Click LCA provides everything we need to support both of the main services we provide, which cover building LCA and building product LCA.
What do you find most useful in One Click LCA?
One Click LCA is a very easy-to-use tool, but I particularly like its various automated import integrations, which make building LCA completion so much faster.
Secondly, I really appreciate One Click LCA’s customer support service. If there’s anything unclear or any issues with the calculation, then I can get help straight away. This is very important to us as our projects are often time-critical.
Thirdly, One Click LCA has a very extensive database available, which is always kept up-to-date with the latest data and if any data is missing then it’s very quickly incorporated into the database on request.
Finally, I appreciate the fact that One Click LCA is specifically focused on building LCA because, in my experience, the construction sector has very specific requirements when it comes to LCA calculations and you need a tool that is tailored to that.
About ‘Carbon Expert of the Month’
Carbon Expert of the Month is One Click LCA’s way to showcase the expertise, inspiration and best practices of One Click LCA users. Each month, we feature experts who are passionate about reducing carbon in general and from materials in particular, who seek to push projects beyond the boundaries of common practice, and who wish to share from their personal experience.