Carbon Expert of the Month, January 2021
Johanna Fredén is responsible for Life Cycle Assessments and carbon calculations at the Swedish consulting company: Bjerking. The company is Sweden’s oldest employee-owned consultancy firm within technology and construction. They are committed to turning sustainable thoughts into action.
What led you to become a construction carbon expert?
I have always had a passion for sustainability and knew early on that I wanted to work with environmental issues. When I studied Environmental and Aquatic Engineering at Uppsala University we discussed climate issues a lot. I learned that the construction and civil engineering sector, including the property sector, currently accounts for one fifth of Sweden’s climate impact
With my work, I would like to contribute to a more sustainable construction sector. As I see it Life Cycle Assessments, LCA, forms the basis of gaining knowledge on where we stand today and how we can improve. Energy efficiency and resource efficiency are at the core of this. After University I worked for five years at the Swedish Environmental Research Institute, IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet, mainly responsible for project management and environmental system analysis such as LCA and LCC. I worked mainly with EU research projects focusing on sustainable construction. In 2015 I started working at Bjerking, I wanted to use my knowledge in construction projects and contribute to a change within the construction industry.
What kind of projects do you typically work on, and in what role?
I am responsible for Bjerking’s offers on Life Cycle Assessments and carbon calculations. I work with marketing, as a project manager and a senior advisor in LCA-projects. We are helping our customers to calculate the climate impacts of their projects and guide them on how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We work with all actors in the construction industry, property developers, public and private property owners, architects, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Typically, we help our customers to evaluate different alternatives in the design process and we perform LCA for environmental certification systems such as the Swedish Miljöbyggnad and BREEAM. We offer workshops for actors on how to work with LCA and the new Swedish law Climate declaration for buildings that will come into force in 2022.
Which projects and achievements are you most proud of?
In 2019 we performed a study for the project Cederhusen in cooperation with Folkhem/Veidekke. Cederhusen will be Stockholm’s first large apartment buildings in solid wood, which will be one of the largest wooden house projects in the world in an inner-city environment. In the study we evaluated different suppliers of wooden framework as part of the decision basis for the procurement. The study showed that by making an active choice the project could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the framework by 50 percent.
We worked closely with our construction engineers at Bjerking who designed the framework and used their BIM model for our calculations. We presented the project at different seminars in Sweden and it generated a lot of interest since this was done for the first time in the Swedish market. After that study, our CEO signed a debate article where Bjerking, as the first construction consultancy firm in Sweden, encouraged all our customers to use LCA to assess the climate impact of the drawings that are being developed. An ongoing project that I am proud of is that I am advising the Traffic Committee in Stockholm regarding how they can develop guidelines and work with climate calculations in all their projects throughout the construction process. Their goal is to reduce climate impact in their projects by 15 percent from an early defined baseline in line with the political goals in Stockholm.
“After that study, our CEO signed a debate article where Bjerking, as the first construction consultancy firm in Sweden, encouraged all our customers to use LCA to assess the climate impact of the drawings that are being developed.”
How do you see carbon performance evolving in the market?
The interest is increasing all the time for LCA and climate calculations in the Swedish construction sector. Within the framework of the government initiative Fossil Free Sweden the Swedish construction sector has united around a common roadmap for a carbon-neutral sector. The environmental certification system Miljöbyggnad and other systems are drivers as well. In 2022 a new law, Climate declarations for buildings will be implemented in Sweden and this will increase the knowledge and use of LCA within the sector. The material construction industry in Sweden is working actively to decrease the carbon footprint of the building materials, especially when it comes to concrete and steel. The financial sector is now offering green mortgage both for private and public actors investing in sustainable buildings. .
“In 2022 a new law, Climate declarations for buildings will be implemented in Sweden and this will increase the knowledge and use of LCA within the sector.”
What are the key value drivers you use to make the business case for materials carbon?
Climate reductions and cost reductions often come hand in hand. When it comes to energy efficiency, material efficiency and having a life cycle perspective it is often economically beneficial. To take responsibility for the climate aspects in projects and think of new ways of constructing buildings is a selling point for all project developers.
How does One Click LCA help you achieve your goals?
One Click LCA makes it easy to design low carbon projects. From early phases to a finished building, it is easy to create new designs and integrate with different design tools such as Revit. It is important that it complies with EN/ISO standards and certification systems. The possibilities to choose from global generic data or manufacturer specific, third-party verified EPDs makes the calculations more precise.
One aspect of One Click LCA that I find most useful is the integration for automation, the fact that you can import data from Excel, Revit, BIM-models, and other software. Moreover, comparisons of emission factors for different building products are great when finding possible ways to reduce the climate impact for a project. The results tables and graphs are easily accessible and informative.
What’s your advice for other sustainability experts?
- Perform LCA as early as possible in a project.
- Integrate the LCA in the traditional construction design process.
- Digitalisation allows for new ways of working.
- Communication and cooperation are the keys to finding good solutions and potential reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Designing low carbon buildings:
- The construction and civil engineering sector has a huge potential to minimise waste and move towards a circular economy through renovation, reuse and recycling.
- Choose materials with low climate impact.
- Optimize energy and material use throughout the process, look at the possibilities for shared spaces and design with reuse in mind.
About ‘Carbon Expert of the Month’
Carbon Expert of the Month is Bionova’s way to bring forward expertise, inspiration, best practises and great cases among One Click LCA users. Each month, we intend to publish one Carbon Expert of the Month interview, rotating between different countries.
We interview and feature experts who are passionate about reducing carbon in general and from materials in particular, who preferably seek to push projects beyond the boundaries of common practise, and who wish to share from their personal experience.