Monday, November 18, 2013

Athena Releases Update to its Impact Estimator for Buildings Software

Athena Sustainable Materials Institute has released an update to it's Impact Estimator software for environmental life cycle assessments.
The Impact Estimator is a free and compliant whole building LCA software for those seeking the LCA credits in Green Globes® and LEED® (v4 and MR pilot credit 63). The update is available for download from Athena's LCA Tools site,

Enhancements and updates captured in this version: 
  • New and updated cradle-to-grave North American steel product data;
  • New GAF TPO roofing membrane data;
  • Supports new user defined concrete mix designs and blended cements;
  • Includes latest CORRIM US regional wood product data;
  • New Canadian wood products data (LVL, I-joists and CLT);
  • Updated end-of-life landfill process data;
  • New bio-products carbon accounting scenarios including end-of-life effects;
  • Updated metal building systems LCI data and assembly quantity take-offs;
  • Full compatibility with US EPA's TRACI v2.1 characterization method; and
  • New software "Auto Update" capability.
One interesting development is the end-of-life effects. As we have discussed in our meetings, wood can have varying impacts to the air (greenhouse gas release) if it is burned or decomposes at the end of its life.  More about the treatment of biogenic carbon is discussed here:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wood for Jet Fuel?

Here is the woody biomass jet fuel initiative Hans-Erik Blomgren mentioned at the October committee meeting.

NARA Works to Harness Woody Biomass for Aviation Biofuel

Featuring a broad alliance of private industry and educational institutions, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) takes a holistic approach to building a supply chain for aviation biofuel with the goal of increasing efficiency in everything from forestry operations to conversion processes. Using a large variety of feedstocks, from construction waste to forest residues, the project aims to create a sustainable industry to produce aviation biofuels and important co-products.
WSU and others have been getting large grants off of this.

And like pretty much anything these days, you can follow NARA on Twitter:

Thanks, Hans-Erik!

Clash of the green giants

Our newest committee member, Sean Augustino, wanted to share a Portland Tribune article about the battle between LEED and Green Globes:

Clash of the green giants
Only a handful of local buildings have used Green Building Initiative’s rival Green Globes rating system, Rekow concedes, because “this has been a very LEED-centric city.” But the number of Green Globes-certified building projects around the country doubled in the past two years, she says, and now totals 850.

LEED, by contrast, has been used in more than 55,000 projects around the world.

But Green Globes could take a leap forward after a recent review by the U.S. General Services Administration elevated it to near-equal status with LEED, which had been the exclusive green-rating system used for federal building projects.
Thanks, Sean!

November-December Committee Meeting

Our meeting will continue our series on the sustainability of cross-laminated timber and wood design. We will feature Myer Harrell and Kirsten Clemens from Weber Thompson to discuss the architectural considerations for CLT. We will also recap the TallWood presentation by Michael Green.

Since our usual meeting time of the 4th Wednesday of the month conflicts with Thanksgiving this month, we are moving to December 4th. This will be our last meeting this year. Let me know if you would be willing to host meetings at your office in the new year.

We have the availability for web and audio conference at the meeting, so let me know if you need to connect. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Happy Hour for SEFW Fall Forum on Tall Wood

If you haven't read your newest SEAW Equilibrium, This Thursday is the Structural Engineers Foundation Fall Forum.  The presentation is "Tall Wood: How Timber Suddenly Decided to Grow Up." The presenters are architect, Michael Green, and structural engineer, Erik Karsh. Both are leading the international movement for expanded use of heavy timber from nearby Vancouver, British Columbia.
As Michael calls it “the most technologically advanced material grown by the sun,” wood has earned its place alongside steel and concrete in the construction of large institutional and commercial projects such as international airports, municipal halls, university buildings
and yes, high-rises. Wood has gone high tech, and if you are in the building business, you should know about it.
The presentation starts at 6:00pm, this Thursday, November 21 at Benaroya Hall. Admission is free, but registration is required through SEAW.  

One of the reasons wood is gaining attention is its sustainability, made by solar power and absorbing carbon dioxide in the process. The sustainability committee of SEAW has been hosting a series of presentations on sustainability of wood, and this is another opportunity to discuss the topic.

As a primer for the presentation, meet members of the SEAW sustainability committee for happy hour at the Triple Door (next to Benaroya) before the lecture starting at 4:30PM. 

And join us at our next meeting, noon on December 4th at KPFF, to hear more about the state of the art of sustainable wood construction, where architects Myer Harrell and Kirsten Clemens ‎of Weber Thompson will talk about their design to push the height limit of wood buildings in Seattle.‎