Environmental Impact Data for Cement and Concrete Is Included in Athena Software

Free Athena Institute life cycle assessment (LCA) software for buildings now includes the most current environmental impact data for cement and concrete.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute launched a version of its Impact Estimator for Buildings software (IE for Buildings) with current environmental impact data for concrete and cement. This release incorporates current environmental impact data published in the Industry Wide Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and Industry Benchmark report for concrete published by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA).

The software, which has become the industry standard for conducting building LCAs, is the only system that fully complies with the U.S. Green Building Council‘s LEEDv4 technical requirements. Green Globes, as well as various standards, including the International green Construction Code (IgCC) and CALGreen also recognize it.

NRMCA, along with the Portland Cement Association (PCA), commissioned Athena to include the most recent impact data.

“We believe the benchmark concrete mix designs and EPD mix designs as developed during the NRMCA EPD project uniquely satisfy this need of our 4,000 users to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings,” states Jamie Meil, managing director at Athena.

Lionel Lemay, senior vice president at NRMCA adds, “Thanks to the tireless efforts of NRMCA members in providing data for the NRMCA EPD project, we are now able to offer design professionals the necessary tools they need to design concrete buildings with the lower environmental impacts to go along with all the other benefits of concrete construction including fire resistance and energy savings.”

“The information provided by this tool will assist design professionals in quantifying the true environmental impacts of buildings,” comments Mark Justman, vice president of market development at PCA.

In addition to the EPD and benchmark report for concrete, the release of IE for Buildings includes a tutorial on how to define a custom product and an updated cement profile based on research from the Concrete Sustainability Hub at the Massachusetts Institute Technology.

Designers and owners often use IE for Buildings to demonstrate compliance for impact reduction in LEED v4. The process involves conducting an LCA to measure the environmental impacts for a “reference building” and then conducting an LCA on the “proposed building” to compare impacts. If the impacts for the proposed building are lower than those of the reference building by specified percentages, the design is credited towards green building certification.

IE for Buildings results have already demonstrated compliance with LEED v4, showing that impacts for a concrete building can be more than 10 percent lower when using concrete products with higher volumes of fly ash and slag cement. The reference building is analyzed using industry average data provided in the NRMCA Industry Benchmark report and then compared to data from the NRMCA Industry Wide EPD or a Product Specific EPD provided by a concrete company. Generally, concrete products designed to have lower environmental impacts, including global warming potential and smog formation, among several others, can readily meet the impact reduction targets specified in LEED v4 and other standards.

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