July 29, 2015
Athena Sustainable Materials Institute releases update to its acclaimed Impact Estimator for Buildings software
In keeping with its continued support of whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA), the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute has released a new version of its acclaimed Impact Estimator for Buildings software.
The software is used by design teams across North America to explore the environmental footprint of different material choices and core-and-shell system options. The Impact Estimator provides a cradle-to-grave life cycle inventory (LCI) profile for a whole building, including the projected flows from and to nature: energy and raw material flows plus emissions to air, water and land.
The Impact Estimator is available as a free download from Athena’s CalculateLCA website.
Version 5.1 includes a number of new and updated LCI databases and processes for the following building materials:
Concrete. With the support of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Portland Cement Association and the Cement Association of Canada, Athena has made a host of changes to the Impact Estimator’s concrete assemblies and mix design profiles:
- NRMCA benchmark concrete mix designs were added to the database Product Library for six compressive strengths.
- Users can still define their own concrete mixes, but now they can also draw on 48 additional concrete mix designs as described in NRMCA’s industry wide EPD (Environmental Product Declaration).
- The US Portland cement profile has been updated based on work at the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT.
- The ready-mixed plant process was updated according to the NRMCA industry wide LCA and EPD. Similarly, regional coarse and fine aggregate transportation distances were updated.
Slag cement. With the support of the Slag Cement Association, the previous ground granulated blast furnace slag profile has been retired and replaced with the latest (2015) North American industry-wide average EPD profile and renamed slag cement.
PVC roofing membrane. Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc.’s 40, 50, and 60 mil polyester reinforced white PVC (cool roof) roofing membranes have been added to the Impact Estimator’s roof envelope library.
Aluminum. With the support of the Aluminum Association, the software’s previous aluminum profiles were replaced with the latest (2014) North American LCI data for primary and secondary ingot, cold and hot rolled sheet, extruded and cast products.
Athena has also created a “how to define a custom product” tutorial to show users how to add their own unique composite products or concrete mix designs.
This update was made possible by support from the Aluminum Association, Cement Association of Canada, Duro-Last, Metal Construction Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Portland Cement Association, the Slag Cement Association, and Athena members.
Jamie Meil, Athena’s Research Principal and the prime developer of the Impact Estimator, expressed the organization’s gratitude: “As always, we are indebted to our members and supporters for their ongoing commitment to making the Impact Estimator for Buildings software free and the go-to source for whole-building LCA.”
The Impact Estimator is available as a free download here.
An updated user manual with details concerning the above noted changes is available here.
The “how to define a custom product” tutorial can be viewed here.