Impact Estimator for Buildings Version 4.1 Build 14 Released

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Athena Sustainable Materials Institute Releases Software Update

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OTTAWA, Canada – Sep. 26, 2011 – The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is pleased to announce an update to its acclaimed life cycle assessment software, the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings. The update, Version 4.1.14, is free to all registered users of the Impact Estimator Version 4, and can be downloaded from the website of Morrison Hershfield Limited, Athena’s partner in software development.

Guided by its commitment to meeting the changing needs of the sustainable building community and providing the best available data, Athena releases software updates semi–annually. This update introduces several new building materials and assemblies and corrects a few minor bugs.

New Features

The major changes in this update are the addition of pre–engineered metal frame, wall and roof systems. Note that pre–engineered metal systems in the new release are for demonstration purposes only; that module is targeted to be fully operational in a subsequent update in 2012.

In addition, PSK (polypropylene scrim kraft) was added as a new envelope material in this release, and glulam manufacturing data was updated for all Canadian regions.

Bug Fixes

Version 4.1.14 fixes bugs affecting custom walls and mixed columns and beams that resulted in the incorrect calculation of construction energy, as well as a bug that occurred when saving multiple projects. This release also corrects manufacturing energy consumption values for roofing asphalt, demolition energy values for concrete block and mortar, and manufacturing transportation data for all raw materials, and more.

For more information on new features and bug fixes in this Impact Estimator update, please see the ‘Known Issues’ document available at

The new Impact Estimator update will be available for download to registered Version 4 users starting September 26, 2011 at

About the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings

In North America, the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings is the only software tool that is designed to evaluate whole buildings and assemblies based on internationally recognized life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology.

Using the Impact Estimator, architects, engineers and others can easily assess and compare the environmental implications of industrial, institutional, commercial and residential designs – both for new buildings and major renovations. The Impact Estimator puts the environment on equal footing with other more traditional design criteria at the conceptual stage of a project, capable of modeling 95% of the building stock in North America.

The Impact Estimator takes into account the environmental impacts of:

  • material manufacturing, including resource extraction and recycled content
  • related transportation
  • on-site construction
  • regional variation in energy use, transportation and other factors
  • building type and assumed lifespan
  • maintenance and replacement effects
  • demolition and disposal

The Impact Estimator provides cradle-to-grave implications in terms of:

  • fossil fuel consumption
  • global warming potential
  • acidification potential
  • human health respiratory effects potential
  • ozone depletion potential
  • photochemical smog potential
  • eutrophication potential
  • weighted raw resource use

Results from an individual design can be seen in summary tables and graphs by assembly group and life cycle stage. Detailed tables and graphs show individual energy use by type or form of energy, and emissions by individual substance. Accommodating multiple comparisons at once, the Impact Estimator allows users to change the design, substitute materials, and make side–by–side comparisons for any one or all of the environmental impact indicators. It also lets users compare similar projects with different floor areas on a unit floor area basis.

For more information about the Athena tools, visit To download a free trial copy of the Impact Estimator or to order the full version, please visit the following url:

About the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is a not for profit research institute dedicated to fostering the sustainability of the built environment. Athena uses life cycle thinking, applying life cycle management tools and sustainability metrics to help its members and clients benchmark the environmental performance of their facilities and operations and identify areas for improvement. Athena supports education on the life cycle impacts of building materials and assemblies that help all stakeholders make more informed decisions about appropriate use, technology and development of products within a whole system framework.

Renowned for its internationally acclaimed life cycle inventory databases and life cycle assessment software and tools, Athena is credited with putting the application of LCA to the built environment on the map with its development of the Impact Estimator (IE) – the only North American software tool that evaluates the embodied effects of whole buildings and assemblies. Athena is also quite active in the carbon footprint consulting arena. It has completed carbon footprint consulting projects for numerous clients in accordance with varying standards (e.g., the GHG Protocol, IPCC, and PAS2050) and has aided clients in their submissions to voluntary registries (e.g., the Carbon Disclosure Project).

About Morrison Hershfield Limited

Morrison Hershfield is an employee–owned firm providing integrated multidisciplinary engineering and related expertise. Morrison Hershfield delivers innovative, cost effective and technically sophisticated solutions for infrastructure. Their goal is to provide a single point of contact for all engineering services and to be the first call for engineering solutions that make a difference. They listen closely to client needs and, working collaboratively, define the best possible solutions. Morrison Hershfield is committed to making their clients successful and to establishing long lasting relationships built on loyalty and trust.

Morrison Hershfield believes that engineering is an investment with a high return. Good engineering produces leveraged returns with fewer surprises, faster delivery, lower capital costs, lower life cycle costs, and safer, more efficient and sustainable operations.

For further information contact:
Jenny Read, Communications Director, The Sustainable Materials Institute
613.729.9996 x221