Frequently Asked Questions
Get answers to your frequently asked questions about the Landscape Carbon Calculator app and design for positive climate change.
Does the free version calculate everything?
YES! Money will not prevent access for people who want to provide solutions. You will be limited to storing 1 project and you will not have access to export your data but you will have access to 100% of the calculations.
Are there ads on the free version?
Why do you charge for the service? Other calculators are free.
The fees help us recoup the thousands of hours and dollars invested into making this tool. It also fuels updating and improving the LCC as well as helping to push forward the two other calculators currently under construction. I think you will find that this is the most extensive calculator available.
Why are there so many data entry points? This takes some effort!
We are providing a tool for professionals to look at their work at the granular level. Without this level of detail, we will not know where are leverage points are for change. This effort sets you apart from the crowd.
What is a good range of time for a project to reach equilibrium?
Given the current state of our climate crisis, we’d love to see 5-year SET’s. That just isn’t realistic for some projects right now, but we must move in that direction. For now, we are considering 20 years and longer a fail but don’t let that discourage you. The point is to do the best you can.
Why doesn’t the calculator offer solutions?
As the professional on the project, you understand the project specific desires and constraints better than anyone. The calculator is designed to tell the truth of the situation and empower you to make the best decision you can, given your specific circumstances. There is a matrix of mandates on every project. From the client’s desires to local codes and practical considerations for safety, each project will need customized solutions.
Does it really take this long to sequester?
Unfortunately, yes. Hence the climate predicament we are in.
Can you please make this faster?!
Yup. Already working on building a better calculator with all your feedback.
Is it really possible to reach equilibrium in 5 years?
Yes, but it is not easy to create landscapes that look like they currently do and meet this goal. This is the challenge of our lifetimes. To design and build quality, beautiful landscapes that function for humans with varying needs and abilities while solving the climate crisis, cleaning our water, and providing habitat for other species.
Why should I trust your data?
Great question! The science is changing rapidly, and you probably want to know where I took my data. Please look at our citations page for sources and please look at our white pages to review Dimensional Analysis of some of our formulas.
What’s coming next on the LCC?
On this calculator we are looking for what you think is missing so we can customize more for our core base. We are currently working on providing footprints for different types of shipping so you can choose more specifically your footprint for transportation. We are also working on decking, pools, and alternative materials.
What is the weakest link?
Great question! The science regarding emissions is much stronger than sequestration. However, there is almost always a series of hidden transport footprints between manufacturing and end use so we must assume that all stated carbon emissions numbers are lower than reality. Err on the side of caution.
Sequestration’s relationship to soil type needs much more scientific advancement as does specific plant species level sequestration.
Why do irrigation controllers have such a high footprint?
Irrigation controllers are basically computers. Computers use many high emission components such as plastic, silicon, and heavy metals. They also have high transportation footprints due to global shipping.
What is the difference between the Summary and the Reports pages?
The summary page is organized to allow you to review your entire project in a larger format. The Reports page is designed as your export page. Select the reports and your preferred file format here, then export to build your own custom report in the software of your choice.
How do I use the Improve Your Project tool on the Summary page?
If you would like to see what is needed to make your project reach equilibrium faster, simply enter the preferred years to equilibrium and the calculator will display the additional pounds of CO2 you will need to sequester each year OR the additional pounds of CO2 you will need to reduce during construction. You can then take these numbers and compare them against your emissions and sequestration capabilities and start identifying the changes that make the most sense within you project constraints.
What does the map mean at the bottom of the Summary Page?
The map is a reminder of our larger goal. In the upper right-hand corner is the current amount of PPM of greenhouse gases from NOAA’s Mauna Loa laboratory. It shows the target level of CO2 and CO2 equivalents that we know is safe for the biosphere to operate.
Can I just print a complete report?
Currently we do not compile a complete report for you. You can export individual graphs and charts and compile them in another program of your choice so they appear as you would like them. You can also download the data into excel and generate you own custom reports.
What files types can I export?
You can export a PDF and a PNG file.
What are the pie charts and why are there two for sequestration?
Total Carbon Pie Chart
The “Total Carbon” pie chart displays each individual input group’s total CO2 load in relation to all of the other input groups in the entire project. This is you whole project CO2 load view. Each color on the pie chart matches the color of the input group. Hover over a section of the pie chart to see the name, total pounds of carbon, and % of the subgroup.
Annual Sequestration Pie Chart
Plants are sequestering CO2 throughout their life cycle. This pie chart displays the annual sequestration, in total pounds CO2 in each plant category.
Initial Sequestration Pie Chart
When we apply mulches and compost, a portion of that becomes stored carbon in the soil so we track it separately as a one-time sequestration.
*Note: Northern California studies have shown that a one-time application of compost on rangeland can continue to sequester carbon at an increasing rate each year. We are working with that data to better understand how it applies to the calculator and will update the app when appropriate.
I’m confused by the carbon and carbon % columns on the right-hand side of the inputs screens. Can you explain?
Here is how that works. As you know, there are 13 input groups. Each of those groups are organized with subsections within it. The bar graph at the bottom left of the page displays the % of the total carbon load of each of the subsections in relation to the total input group with a vertical colored column for each subsection. (Hover over the column and the subsection label and % will appear)
The columns on the right-hand side of the page show even more specific data. The “carbon” column displays the pounds of carbon for the item based on the quantity you have entered. The “Carbon %” column displays the % of that line item within that subsection of the input group.
Bar Chart = % carbon of subsection as related to the input group
“Carbon” column left of “Carbon%” column = pounds of carbon for that line item.
“Carbon %” column on right hand side of page = % of carbon within the subsection of that input group
Am I supposed to calculate the transportation of materials to my supplier?
No. There are many hidden miles in the supply chain. Most studies do not account for this as it is hard to track. The only number you can be sure of is from your supplier to your project site.
It is safe to assume that the further your stone is mined from your project, the higher the transportation emissions are. This is why we have created options for local stone vs. imported stone. It is the most accurate way we can differentiate given available data. Future calculator versions will include close to a dozen different forms of transportation options so you can estimate emissions from sources all over the globe.
It’s best to stay local when you can.
Do I have to match all of the different measurement metrics for the calculator to be accurate?
Great question! No. Each line item calculates separately so you can mix and match if you would like. Use whichever metric is best for you and the calculator will properly convert it to pounds of CO2. Be careful that you are using the metric your data is calculated in or you could get wildly different results. So, if you have your data. in ‘feet’. Make sure you select feet when entering your data. If it is in “meters”, select “meters”, and so on.
What does it mean when an input box turns red?
It means you have entered a value that it cannot calculate. A common mistake is inputting the letter “o” instead of the number “0”.
I don’t usually calculate mileage for projects. What is the fastest way to do this?
We suggest using the mapping app of your choice. Simply enter in the location of your project and the location of your supplier, take that number and enter it into the calculator. The round trip is calculated for you.
What if I just pick up materials every day on the way to the project?
We suggest revisiting this strategy to see if you can minimize travel and time with more stategic material acquisition plans. If that is not practical, do you best to add in the additional miles by calculating the distance from your starting point, to your suppliers, then to the project site and find a reasonable average.
What if the equipment I use is not in the “Large Equipment” category?
If your equipment is not listed, the best way to choose equipment in the “Large Equipment Category” is by horsepower. Choose the equipment that has the closest horsepower to the types /brands of equipment you are using.
How do I calculate my own custom flatwork?
In both the “Mortared flatwork” and the “Sand Set/Dry lay Flatwork” sections of the “Hardscape” input we have calculated the base materials; therefore, you cannot reduce them. You can, however, add more by inputting your quantities of specific materials in the “Additional Hardscape Materials” section of “Hardscape”.
How do I calculate my own custom flatwork?
The charts at the bottom of the input page are small. Can I make them bigger?
Yes, simply click on them for a full screen view.
What if I and using a new material with a smaller carbon footprint than the standard materials you have listed? I want my efforts for cutting edge steps I am already taking to be accounted for.
Great question! New products are arriving, and it is hard to keep up with them all. Not to mention, some just do not have any data to prove their “sustainable” title. If you have the data on a new item you are using, we suggest comparing it to the item we have listed the calculator and then adjusting the quantity of the item to get the emissions that are accurate. For example. If you are using an alternative CMU that has 50% of the emissions of a standard CMU, simply reduce the quantity in the input category for “CMU Wall”. This should give you the accurate emission but you ill need to make a note that the square footage was altered to get it.
I use filter fabric. Where do I input that?
We do not currently have inputs for geotextiles. If you would still like to add something, I would use 10% of the “PVC Liner 20 mil” input in the “Water Features” input category. This will likely get you close.
How does grading emit CO2, just the equipment use?
No, there are multiple emission points during grading. There is the equipment use which is tracked in the input category for equipment. There is also release from the removal of plant material as soil disturbance. Which we track in the grading and land clearing input.
Plants can transfer approximately 40% of the airborne CO2 they capture directly to the soil. When we disturb this soil through grading or tilling, we release this stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Sometimes the best and hardest decision is to leave things alone.
What if the exact component I use is not on the list?
Product emissions basically come down to material type, weight, and transportation. Do your best to pick the component that is most similar to the one you are using. We will continue to bring more material choices into the calculator based on your feedback.
How do I use PM/Owner Miles in the Transportation Input?
The “PM/Owner Miles” section is linked to the previous inputs of “Duration of Project” and based on a percentage of the “Daily Construction Trucks”. This allows you to calculate the travel emissions of owners, project managers, designers, or other professionals who will be traveling to the site but not every day. Since it is integrated, you can increase /decrease the amount of days in the ‘Duration of Project Line” under “Project Constraints” and the entire transportation category is updated.
What is the difference between a small truck and a large truck in the deliveries input section?
We have broken deliveries into two types of trucks. The small truck is for most trucks larger than a pickup and smaller than a semi-truck. This is a wide range of trucks used in construction but have relatively comparable emissions. The second category is a larger truck that is based on emissions of a semi-truck. This can be an actual truck and trailer or something similar like a bobtail or attached flatbed.
We can answer your questions
If you still can’t find what you are looking for, send us an email.