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Thank you for submitting ideas to the Climate Colab Materials Matter challenge.
We loved reading through all of the ideas. While we did not select your idea, we want to encourage you to keep working on it and wanted to provide some feedback that might help you develop your idea further.
The scope is super broad (database, online store, think tank, investment center). They propose looking at materials across sectors. Not sure we need a tool to help us compare materials for our industry as we have the MSI and other LCA tools. Nor do we need Base Zero to calculate emission reduction opportunities.
We do like the feature in which the database allows you to see what suppliers provide better materials – focusing on this alone would be of value.
Advice to them: before investing in the infrastructure, refine the scope and value proposition.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Materials Matter challenge.
Jul 14, 2015
Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. The green chemistry field is indeed quite interesting and comprehensive, and something that Base Zero could consider in the future with further resources and assistance - this is an an area of research onto itself. While it has to be noted that the chemical industry is indeed of huge relevance to a wide range of inputs into materials across most industries, Base Zero is first and foremost a materials database - primarily aimed at materials development and manufacturing in the built/physical environment - covering industries such as product/appliance manufacture/design, construction/architecture, textile/apparel production, engineering (manufacturing/civil/electrical), to begin with, a full and comprehensive investigation could/probably should be carried out in the chemical industry at some point, and as specifie Base Zero would be open to this in the future. There is another segment of Base Zero which could not fit into the space of the main description - 'The Loop' - a system where various industrial stakeholder can recycle outputs and waste that could be of use or value to another industry - closing the loop on certain materials.
Jul 15, 2015
One of the main potential challenges in attempting to keep this venture realistic and feasible is the scale of the operation. If all of the main elements, features and claims of the database were attempted by a singular entity/organisation working alone it would indeed take some time. However, linking in with other organisations who are already researching/working in high-priority sectors across several industries can cut costs and time-lines considerably - such as the Clean Technology Centre, CIT, Cork., NUIG Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Queens University Belfast, and the University of Limerick, to name a few local opportunities (there are various other EPA funded collaborators identified further a field - U.K., Denmark, Belgium). Initial target industry/company - Irish CRH PLC - ranked second in the world as a leading building material manufacturer - producing stone, clay, glass, and concrete products. The partnering entities/institutes will be carrying out/supplying most of the primary research - we will be designing the tool to integrate this research into industry (a suitable development/design team has been identified). Base Zero is not attempting to re-invent the wheel just helping it to run more efficiently on a smoother path. One of the downfalls in some large-scale sustainable/renewable research and 'impact' projects may be the fact that there are a lot of organisations and research initiatives in various regions doing great work, towards similar goals, but there seems to be a gap in effective knowledge sharing and integration - increased collaboration and unity between departments, entities, and industry players could help in over-all industrial emission reduction. Aside from some of the more commercial profit-focused materials databases/catalogues, a lot of the more 'industrial' technical materials databases are not that clear, flexible, interesting, interactive, easy to read, or navigate; with very few images/visuals, if any. The data inputs can vary quite a bit too, and of course GHG emission data/embedded energy stats are not commonplace at all yet. This would be the main task of Base Zero - work with industry/multiple end-users to come up with a database which employs a set of stats and properties general enough to cover materials in most industries - but flexible enough to allow further categories, sub-categories, images, and notes to be added easily by users in any industry/region, if needed; without having to set-up an entirely new database for each industry/field/company (this would be monitored by Base Zero). Going back to the chemical industry again, the EPA have recently revealed their Chem-view database - providing analysis of a range of different chemical inputs mainly related to chemical health and safety. While they are still in the process of inputting data they are also openly inviting feedback and suggestions to the system - which is a very positive indicator of more human/user-led design-thinking approach. This also indicates a gap in the market for a system which works well and efficiently from the start. Base Zero could also link-in/partner with the EPA’s Chem-view database and form some sort of mutually-beneficial working/learning alliance. Just to clarify further on Base Zero's 0-20 rating system, as I did not have enough space to elaborate on this in the main descriptor section: In terms of how exactly this rating system will be implemented, it could work in two ways: (a) Materials would be bench-marked against other materials with the highest embedded energies in their particular sector - for example Nylon has an embedded energy at approx. 250MJ per KG - if this was to be examined in the context of the apparel industry alone, it would be the '20' top rating material in this category. Polyester (at 125MJ/KG), would be somewhere in the middle with a '10' rating. More natural materials such as cotton and wool at 55/63MJ/KG would reside somewhere around '5', while hemp and flax fibers would be closer to '1'. This may be easier to set up initially, particularly if the database is beginning with researching one industry sector at a time. (b) Calculate the highest possible embedded energy rating of a material, use this as the top standard and work backwards in specific increments of MJ/KG - similar to how diamond was used as the industry standard for toughness. This might take more time to work out initially but could be equally as effective. Either of the above approaches will only count for one section of the over-all 0-20 rating, the embedded energy in the raw material (which is fine if that is the only information that is required by the user), however, the materials/products will also be analysed analysed under the following separate categories: -energy used on additional varying manufacturing/plant processes (again bench-marked against the most/least energy intensive production facilities). -transport (to try and encourage users of the system to purchase as close to source as possible). -rating on re-cycling/up-cycling/degradable capabilities. An average of these combined ratings will then be calculated to produce a more accurate final 0-20 product rating. In terms of what is actually measured – standard physical and chemical properties, processing options, usage properties, as well as sustainable indicators (embedded energies, GHG emissions, cradle-to-grave), availability (list of companies & relevant contact information), as well as a section to indicate how/if material properties of a given material can be altered in different environmental/climatic conditions. Additional feature 1 - 'The Loop' - ultra sustainable material selection section - a section of the site where users can upload information of their waste/unused materials - this is particularly relevant in the construction sector, considering more than 30% of all waste produced in the U.S. is currently from demolition/renovation activities. Additional feature 2 - 'E-mission calculator' - emission and energy calculator - data can be input by individual users at any stage, or if they are a regular user of the site, performing most of their material-related activities through Base Zero, then their energy/emission saving figures are continually updated as they go, and available at any time - a useful tool going forward for bigger industry players. Additional feature 3 - 'Exchange Base' - moving further into the future of Base Zero, similar to systems such as the EEN (Enterprise Europe Network) there will be a section for information, innovation, and technology requests and offerings - primarily relating to industrial material, process, technology, or product based ventures and collaborations of a sustainable or resource-efficient nature (for example a project to re-design/re-engineer a more efficient technology/process to recover waste-water heat energy in aluminium production). All users - manufacturers, suppliers, producers, designers, engineers etc., indeed individuals from any background or corner of the globe can engage with this service - helping good ideas/suggestions, or industry needs/requests, gain visibility, recognition, and assistance from the global Base Zero community. Additional feature 4 - Macro / Micro Base Zero sub-sections: As the system builds and progresses it will separate into two divisions - Macro - geared towards large-scale industrial data transactions, and bulk ordering volumes; including a 'Macro' Loop system. Micro - geared towards users with smaller data needs/material quantities, including a 'Micro' Loop system - which would include smaller volume translations, but a larger number of options/input waste material varieties. This might also be a good way of attracting a broader, more varied, member base - including much younger members - in encouraging them to observe, learn, interact and engage with the features and benefits of the system - as these are the up-and-coming problem solvers and climate 'tool-makers' of tomorrow... Again, thank you to all of the Co-lab members and judges for your assistance and attention!