Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tally - Life Cycle Assessment - By KieranTimberlake

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an important component of a holistic sustainable design approach to designing a building. In this post I will share a Revit add-in we use to comply with State requirements here in Minnesota. The product is Tally by the architecture firm KieranTimberlake - a full-service architecture, planning and research firm based in Philadelphia, PA,

"The first LCA app that lets you calculate the environmental impacts of your building material selections directly in an Autodesk® Revit® model."


How it Works:

Project Set up:
First, we have to set up the project. This can be based on a full building assessment or...
Revit's design options - comparing LCA for two parts of the project. Tally will read the components from a linked model, e.g. a structural model, but the Tally assignments have to be done in that model.

LCA Database Assignments:
Once the project is set up, we simply start aligning Revit's elements/materials with Tally's materials from the German database GaBi, which Tally uses.

To make an assignment:

  1. Right-click on a listed Revit element/material
  2. Select Edit Definition
  3. Make a selection
  4. Specify options such as Service Life and Takeoff Method
In this next image, I right-click on a Revit column family from the list.

Now I select an appropriate material from the Tally database and click Apply.

After clicking Apply, we need to specify a few things. This step will vary depending on the material. For structure, the Service Life defaults to "Building Life." Notice the two Takeoff Methods and related options.

Once a Revit element/material has been properly assigned, a green circle appears as shown below. Also, notice the assigned information appears on the right when selected. Thus, the goal is to get everything set to green before running the final report.

Tally breaks out the layers in a wall assembly so we can make proper assignments. We can even insert materials not represented in the wall family, such as a vapor barrier (not that it could not be in the family).

Here I am assigning the gypsum board material...

I selected Type "X," a finish, and set Foil facing to "None" (or I will be). You have to specify everything here before you can move on.

This next image shows a fully defined wall assembly in Tally.

Here is an example of the options presented when selecting concrete. Hopefully the structural engineer is engaged in this process and making these selections, not just because s/he knew what to pick, but s/he should be part of the process of meeting the overall project goals.

Generate a Report:
The final step is to generate a report to assess the project. If you look back at the first Tally screenshot you will see a Save Report tab. Selecting this presents in the information below. All the Report Information fields need to be filled out. Everything else is options. It is also a good idea to review the Transportation Impacts (click #2, and then the next image).

This dialog lists nationwide averages for the materials used in your project. These can be changed if needed. For example, where I live, there is a USG plant that makes acoustic ceiling tile. So the distance for that material could possibly be modified if their product is specified and used. We also have a Class-A railway system. So that may have an impact on the delivery of some materials, especially for larger projects.

A few sample tabs from the resultant Excel file:

A few images from the resultant PDF file:

Minnesota requirements

Here in Minnesota, where I live and work, there is a requirement that all publicly funded projects comply with the B3 program, which is similar to USGBC's LEED program.

From the Minnesota B3 website:
"The B3 Guidelines can be applied to the design of new buildings or renovations to meet sustainability goals for site, water, energy, indoor environment, materials and waste. The B3 Guidelines are required on all projects that receive general obligation bond funding from the State of Minnesota. The guidelines can also be used on a voluntary basis on any project. By using the B3 Guidelines, projects will automatically be applying the SB 2030 Energy Standard. After design, during the building occupancy period, the building will also use the B3 Benchmarking tool to track and compare actual energy use and the B3 Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) to survey occupants on the indoor environmental quality of the building." Reference link:
Here is a glimps at the forms we need to fill out for a B3 project, highlighting the LCA requirements.

B3 Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines

A great research tool for anyone, via the B3 website, is the Case Studies Database.


Tally is a great tool to streamline the LCA workflow. The tool is worth looking into, especially when required. However, some firms are starting to use this on all of their projects. In those cases, Tally makes it a lot easier to accomplish that task. Of course, this means your Revit model has to be accurate. Which it should be for many reasons; energy analysis using Insight, or lighting calcs using ElumTools, and the list goes on...

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