Athena Institute Issues Update of its Acclaimed Impact Estimator for Buildings Software and Offers help to Design Teams with the LEED® LCA Pilot Credit

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This update to the Impact Estimator for Buildings software includes changes in insulation and window frame options, and the Athena Institute is offering free assistance to a limited number of design teams with the LEED pilot credit for using LCA in design.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute has released an update to the Impact Estimator for Buildings, its popular life cycle assessment (LCA) software package for building designers. The update is available for free download from

Changes in this version:

  •     Fiberglass and mineral wool insulation updates.
  •     Fiberglass and metal-clad wood window frames and triple-glazed windows now available.
  •     Adjustments to align with the latest US EPA impact characterization method and with emerging European standards for building declarations.

This release was made possible by support from the following: the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, the USDA Forest Products Lab, and Athena Institute members.

LEED has a pilot credit for using LCA in design, and the Athena Institute is offering free assistance to a limited number of design teams who pursue that credit using the Impact Estimator. Read the details here.

To help new users learn the Impact Estimator quickly, we’ve created a series of short YouTube video tutorials – watch them here.


In North America, the Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings is the only software tool that is designed to evaluate whole buildings and assemblies based on internationally recognized life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The Impact Estimator is the easiest way to meet the LCA options in LEED, CALGreen, the International Green Construction Code, and the National Green Building Standard. The Impact Estimator has been available to the design community since 2007 and was developed with our software and engineering partner Morrison Hershfield.

Using the Impact Estimator, architects, engineers and others can easily assess and compare the environmental implications of new buildings and major renovations.

The Impact Estimator takes into account the environmental impacts of:

  •     material manufacturing, including resource extraction and recycled content
  •     related transportation
  •     on-site construction
  •     regional variation in energy use, transportation and other factors
  •     building type and assumed lifespan
  •     maintenance and replacement effects
  •     demolition and disposal

The Impact Estimator provides these cradle-to-grave impacts of a building:

  •     fossil fuel consumption
  •     global warming potential
  •     acidification potential
  •     human health respiratory effects potential
  •     ozone depletion potential
  •     photochemical smog potential
  •     eutrophication potential

This user-friendly tool provides quick results in clear tables and graphs. The Impact Estimator allows users to change the design, substitute materials, and make side–by–side comparisons. It also lets users compare similar projects with different floor areas on a unit floor area basis.

Guided by its commitment to meeting the changing needs of the sustainable building community and providing the best available data, the Athena Institute releases software updates semi–annually.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is a non-profit research group bringing tools and data to the construction sector for the next generation of “green.” Since 1997, the Athena Institute has focused on quantification of sustainability in design. We work with leading edge architects, engineers, building owners and material manufacturers to measure the real environmental impact of buildings, infrastructure and construction materials using life cycle assessment (LCA). The only North American organization dedicated to construction-sector LCA, Athena develops and maintains a large LCA database for construction materials and provides the LCA-based Impact Estimator and EcoCalculator software tools to building and roadway designers. Contact us to learn more about LCA in design practice, get our tools, join our mailing list or support us in our work to advance the tools and the construction databases.

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