Carbon tool offers real-time material information

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Perkins & Will, in collaboration with C Change Labs and Building Transparency Canada, has been awarded a grant to develop a tool that facilitates the design of low-carbon buildings. The Tally Climate Action Tool (tallyCAT) will build on existing technologies to provide open, real-time access to material and product information within design software, making it easier and faster to choose low-carbon material options.

The CleanBC Building Innovation Fund (CBBIF) from the Province of British Columbia awarded $460,000 to the team as part of its mission to fund projects in B.C. that accelerate the availability and affordability of low-carbon building solutions. With an anticipated release date of March 2023, tallyCAT will provide open access to a library of materials that merges into commonly used Building Information Model (BIM) platforms, like Revit and Rhino.

“Our goal is to make it easy for designers to understand the climate impacts of their material choices through a plug-in palette of lower carbon products,” says Perkins & Will sustainable building advisor Manuela Londono.

Currently, BIM platforms lack real-time information on material performance and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) — the primary way for designers to track and reduce carbon in specific products. After development, tallyCAT will be a globally available, integrated plugin for designers to access within their BIM software to source Building Transparency’s existing global catalog of EPDs.

The tool dovetails with existing efforts in reducing carbon impacts. Building Transparency and C Change Labs, for example, have already demonstrated success with the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) — an industry-leading tool for measuring and comparing embodied carbon in construction materials.

“We recognize that EPDs take effort to establish and are working to make it faster and more affordable for manufacturers to declare their impacts,” says Phil Northcott, CEO of C Change Labs. “Meaningful change in this space must come about through industry-wide collaboration.”

Building Transparency also recently added Tally, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) app that quantifies and analyzes carbon locked in building materials, to its portfolio. The app helps to mitigate the carbon risks in buildings before they are built, rather than after they are constructed. The next generation tallyCAT tool will leverage the capabilities of Tally and EC3 directly within BIM modeling programs like Revit, making carbon reduction an active part of the building process.

“Bringing these resources together to create an advanced open-access tool is the natural next step to fostering a better building future across the industry,” says Stacy Smedley, executive director and chair of Building Transparency.

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