Member Profile: Richard Haynes, eTool co-CEO
Richard Haynes is a recent addition to the ALCAS board. As the driving force behind the development of eToolLCD software and co-CEO of eTool, he has played a critical role in improving lo
w carbon design capabilities for more than a decade.
Richard started his engineering career in mining, but an expedition across the Canadian icecap where he witnessed first hand the damaging effects of climate change was his awakening. Since then he has dedicated his career to reducing global warming.
We talked to Richard about his career, the importance of LCA in achieving environmental objectives and where to next for ALCAS.
How (and why) did you first become involved with sustainability in general, and LCA in particular?
I am actually a mining engineer so a black sheep in the sustainability world. I had a growing concern about climate change through uni and my early career in mining. I can pinpoint the moment I decided to dedicate whatever talents I had to the problem. I was a few days into a ski touring expedition and the moment was while skiing across a frozen lake that on my map was a 100m thick glacier.
You co-founded eTool with your friend Alex Bruce almost a decade ago. Can you tell us what inspired you to start and grow this business.
We were asked by a property developer in Perth to consult on a project he wanted to make "zero carbon". We knew that had to be a life-cycle approach to stand up to scrutiny, so built a simple LCA tool. The developer loved the information we provided and we were able to achieve the net zero goal. We then did some back of the envelope calculations of the potential carbon savings achievable if we could roll that out to a decent percentage of the Australian housing stock. It was jaw dropping so we decided to pursue that aim.
You have been the driving force behind the development of eToolLCD. What role is this software playing in low carbon design?
I think it's more a case of "what role is life cycle assessment" playing in low carbon design. And the answer is (really) it's the main driver now. There's plenty of "slightly lower" carbon design occurring without Life Cycle Assessment, but the very low carbon design is all being driven with LCA. You just can't get amazing performance at a reasonable cost without the application of LCA. Without LCA you end up spending money on marginal gains.
What role would you like to see ALCAS play in the LCA community?
I think ALCAS punches way, way above its weight. Founding EPD Australasia, establishing the certifier qualification and administering AusLCI are some great examples where ALCAS has made huge contributions affecting many sectors. So continuing the great work is my first wish. There's still a lot of work to do though. My view is that the potential of LCA to address environmental problems is only about 1% tapped. Growing the size of the LCA market (and hence the size of the community) I think should be considered a core goal.
As a new ALCAS board member, what do you hope you can personally contribute and what initiatives would you most like to get behind?
ALCAS has done a great job historically of identifying and addressing needs in the LCA space. I'm pretty new to the board so trying to listen in and understand what the current needs are from the LCA community, and indeed wider industry stakeholders. The first few meetings though have certainly got me thinking, and I hope in some small way I can contribute to ALCAS practically and also uplift the recognition of ALCAS within the industries it serves. As I said, it punches way above its weight.