Last month architecture firm KieranTimberlake transferred Tally, its software for life cycle assessment (LCA), to Building Transparency—a non-profit whose goal is to enable broad-based and swift action to address the construction industry’s contribution to climate change. With this move, the tool will become free and open access. “The idea is to make Tally accessible to the entire building industry,” says Billie Faircloth, KieranTimberlake partner and research director.

Created in 2013 by the firm’s affiliate, KT Innovations, with Autodesk and Sphera (formerly Thinkstep), Tally is a plugin to Revit that allows users to run iterative analyses of material choices and assembly options, and compare their environmental impacts, including those that relate to land, air, and water. The design-stage tool also assesses embodied carbon—the carbon associated with construction and material production, which accounts for 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Gifting the software is a logical step given that Building Transparency, established last year, has a particular focus on embodied emissions, and it manages the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), released in beta in 2019. Like Tally, EC3 helps building teams get a handle on environmental impacts, but was conceived for use in later design phases and for product procurement. Having both tools under one roof promises the opportunity to “knit their robust data sets together” and help designers, contractors, and owners advance their carbon analyses more readily from “coarse to granular,” Faircloth adds.

Making Tally free and open access could also give rise to the development of applications powered by the software but targeted to particular materials or specific concerns. Faircloth notes that this already is happening, citing a free LCA calculator for concrete mixes released by ZGF in 2019.

Building Transparency executive director Stacy Smedley expects updates to better coordinate Tally and EC3 in the very near future. “I’m hoping for months instead of years,” she says. “We urgently need these tools today.” In 2019 Smedley spoke with RECORD about EQ3, sustainability, and her career.