A team of design leaders at global architecture and design firm 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.
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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 British Columbia 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 sustainable building advisor Manuela Londono of Perkins&Will.
Tracking Carbon Reduction in Real Time
Currently, building information modeling (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.
“To meet the increasing demand from clients to lower the carbon profile of their projects, tallyCAT will help teams optimize and track material quantities more accurately,” says architectural designer Jesce Walz of Perkins&Will. “And ultimately, using less material reduces both carbon footprint and cost.”
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.
Fostering Sustainable Evolution of the Building Industry
As one of the pilot partners involved with testing the EC3 tool, Perkins&Will has played a key role in changing the way embodied carbon disclosure and product specification is done in the industry.
“Through this partnership with C Change Labs and Building Transparency, we can leverage our collective knowledge to transform the building industry so that low carbon materials become the status quo,” says Elton Gjata, a digital practice manager at the firm.
Sustainable design has always been critical for tallyCAT’s three contributors. But now more than ever, it is a defining factor in how builders, owners, and tenants measure success. As the strategic importance of sustainability grows, the tallyCAT team is leading the next frontier through research, tool development, and design.
“This grant would not have been possible without the support from industry partners and clients who recognized the need for this climate action tool,” says Kathy Wardle, director of sustainability of Perkins&Will’s Vancouver studio. “The next step in this journey is to combine our expertise in materials and the design process into a digital tool that serves the entire industry.”
The tallyCAT team would like to give special thanks to:
– The Province of British Columbia, CleanBC Building Innovation Fund (CBBIF)
– Autodesk, Inc.
– Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) Foundation
– Simon Fraser University
– Morrison Hershfield
– Lehigh Hanson
– Canada Green Building Council
– CarbonCure Technologies, Inc.
– Carbon Leadership Forum
– City of Vancouver
– Delta Land Development Ltd.
– Fast + Epp
– Forestry Innovation Investment
– Integral Group Inc.
– Kalesnikoff Mass Timber Inc.
– Lateral Agency
– Living Future Vancouver Collaborative
– Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)
– RDH Building Science
– SCIUS Advisory Inc.
– Solterre Design
– Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation
– The University of British Columbia
– Urban One
Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values—design excellence, diversity and inclusion, living design, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability, and well-being—the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world. Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture, and industry rankings consistently place Perkins&Will among the world’s top design practices. With an international team of more than 2,000 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Partners include Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen; retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; sustainable transportation planning consultancy NelsonNygaard; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit www.perkinswill.com.
About Building Transparency
Building Transparency is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides open access data and tools that support broad and swift action across the building industry in addressing embodied carbon’s role in climate change. Formed in 2020, Building Transparency hosts, manages and maintains the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, which provides thousands of digitized EPDs in a free, open-source database. Building Transparency strives to provide the resources and education necessary to promote adoption of the EC3 tool, including through the official materialsCAN program, and works with global policymakers to shape a better building future.
About C Change Labs
C Change Labs is a software company with a mission to help implement effective climate action in a competitive market environment through easy-to-use software, powerful visualizations, large-scale cloud databases, and focused industry-specific customization.
C Change Labs is part of a growing movement of sustainable technology companies making tools that interoperate flexibly, securely, and transparently. They publish most of their code as open source, provide and adapt to open APIs, and offer turnkey integration for companies wanting to integrate digitally with the EC3 tool.