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Athena Institute collaborative updates Impact Estimator for Buildings

Sources: Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, Ottawa; CP staff

To continue it support of whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA), the Athena Institute has released Impact Estimator for Buildings Version 5.1. The free software assists design teams across North America in gauging the environmental footprint of different material choices and core-and-shell system options.

The Impact Estimator provides a cradle-to-grave life cycle inventory profile for a whole building, including the projected flows from and to nature: energy and raw material, plus emissions to air, water and land. With the support of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Portland Cement Association and Cement Association of Canada, Athena staff 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 mix designs as described in NRMCA’s Industry Wide Environmental Product Declaration (EPD);
  • The ready mixed concrete plant process was updated according to the NRMCA Industry Wide LCA and EPD;
  • A new “how to define a custom product” tutorial shows users how to add their own unique composite products or concrete mix designs;
  • The U.S. portland cement profile has been updated based on Concrete Sustainability Hub at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology work; and,
  • Regional coarse and fine aggregate transportation distances have been updated.

With Slag Cement Association support, the previous ground granulated blast furnace slag profile has been replaced with the 2015 North American industry-wide average EPD profile, and renamed Slag Cement.

Outside concrete and cement materials, Impact Estimator for Buildings Version 5.1 contains PVC roofing membrane, aluminium and metal cladding product updates. The software is available as a free download.

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