April 23, 2013
The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute has released an update to the Impact Estimator for Buildings, its popular life cycle assessment (LCA) software package for building designers. The update is available for free download from calculatelca.com. Changes in this version:
- Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation updates.
- Fiberglass and metal-clad wood window frames and triple-glazed windows now available.
- Adjustments to align with the latest US EPA impact characterization method and with emerging European standards for building declarations.
- For more details, please see below.
This release was made possible by support from the following: the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, the USDA Forest Products Lab, and Athena Institute members.
To help new users learn the Impact Estimator quickly, we’ve created a series of short YouTube video tutorials – watch them here.
IE for Buildings update details
This latest release of the Impact Estimator for Buildings is part of our regular update cycle. As always, this release addresses various user-reported bugs and functionality issues, so please keep those error messages and suggestions coming.
Over the past six months, we have noted some changes in emerging whole building environmental life cycle declaration standards, and we have made adjustments to be in alignment. In our latest release, we have improved the way we scale and partition impacts between and within the various cradle-to-grave life cycle stages supported by the software. We have thus adopted the modularity principle advocated by the European Standard EN 15804, which we believe will be factored into any standards that develop in North America related to environmental declarations for buildings.
Our latest release also accommodates TRACI v2.1, which is a recent update of the US EPA impact characterization methodology. TRACI is the North American standard for life cycle assessment, and we adjust the Impact Estimator each time the EPA updates TRACI. Our software reflects changes in TRACI methods and equivalency measures.
We have also expanded our product database related to windows and insulation. The Impact Estimator can now address fiberglass and metal-clad wood window frames, as well as triple-pane glazing with various inert gas and low-e coatings. This results in a three-fold increase in the window combinations available. In addition, we have updated and expanded our fiberglass and mineral (rock) wool insulation materials. Working with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), these data have now been stratified by R-value to better reflect the density of these materials at various thicknesses. You can also find the LCA study that is the source of this data on our publications page.