Canada's Athena Sustainable Materials Institute launches free updated Impact Estimator life cycle assessment software, aims to help architects, designers seeking green building credits to explore environmental footprint of different material choices

OTTAWA , July 1, 2014 (press release) – New options, including Green Roofs and LEED-specific reporting, are available in Version 5 of the free software tool that is key to earning the LCA credits in North American green building programs.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute today released Version 5 of the Impact Estimator for Buildings, its acclaimed life cycle assessment (LCA) software package for North American building designers.

The Impact Estimator is a free and compliant whole building LCA software for architects and designers seeking the Whole Building LCA credits in LEED®v4, Green Globes®, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), and the California Green Building Standard Code (CALGreen).

Requiring no special expertise to use, the software allows construction industry professionals to explore the environmental footprint of different material choices and core-and-shell system options. It provides a cradle-to-grave life cycle inventory profile for a whole building, reflecting the flows from and to nature: energy and raw materials flows plus emissions to air, water and land.

Version 5 of the Impact Estimator for Buildings offers a number of new materials users have been asking for, including green roofs and insulated metal panels. Version 5 also includes a new location (Portland, Oregon), a variety of data updates (e.g., for electricity generation and consumption), and assembly changes.

Specifically for design teams seeking green building program LCA credits, the latest version of the Impact Estimator incorporates new Green Globes and LEED project level reports.

Version 5, available here, includes the following enhancements and updates:

  • New green roof components available in roof envelope choices
  • New insulated metal panel options for both roofing materials and wall claddings
  • New concrete block size options available in extra basic materials
  • New location – Portland, Oregon – selectable from among 17 North American locations/regions
  • New tables and graphs reporting in accordance with the latest whole building LCA standards
  • New Green Globes and LEED v4 project level and comparison reports
  • New Bill of Materials by Assembly Group report
  • Updated wide flange section beam algorithms
  • Updated purchased electricity profiles on a regional, national and North American inter-tie level
  • Updated transportation by truck profiles
This release was made possible by support from the following: the USDA Forest Products Lab, Forestry Innovation Investment, GAF, KPFF Consulting Engineers, Metal Construction Association, and Athena Institute members (FPInnovations, Cement Association of Canada, Canadian Wood Council, Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, American Iron and Steel Institute, American Institute of Steel Construction, Morrison Hershfield, BNIM, and Cornerstone Architecture).

FAQs, video tutorials and user manuals, including the Athena Guide to Whole-Building LCA in Green Building Programs, are available here.


The Athena Institute is a non-profit consultancy and think tank in life cycle assessment (LCA) for the built environment. The North American pioneer and only specialist in construction-sector LCA, the Athena Institute works with sustainability leaders in product manufacturing, building design, construction, and green rating programs to enable smaller footprints in the production and consumption of materials, buildings and infrastructure. Athena’s common-good work includes free LCA software tools for architects and engineers and the development and maintenance of a large LCI/LCA database on construction materials and processes that underlie our tools. We additionally advocate and educate on the benefit of LCA in construction practice and in industry in order to help meet our mandate to mitigate the environmental burdens embodied in works of construction. Our support network includes a range of product manufacturers, trade associations, design professionals and other research organizations.

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