Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

SNOWMASS, CO-Okay, your brand-new building is carbon-neutral now–but how much carbon will you be saving in five, 10, 20 years? Green Footstep, an online calculator from the Rocky Mountain Institute, will help developers and designers calculate, and reduce carbon emissions in new construction and retrofits over a long term, the Institute says.

The calculator, launched three months ago, is an update of an existing service, but encompassing additional data, says Michael Bendewald, a Rocky Mountain Institute analyst who helped develop the program. The key difference is that Green Footsteps measures multiple building emissions over a building’s lifetime, RMI says, helping design professionals to make decisions to achieve a true carbon neutrality.

“We offered an excel version in 2006 through 2008 that only tracked operation building emissions,” Bendewald said. “The online version incorporates new elements, accounts for more sources of carbon emissions, and is much more interactive.”

Most assessment tools compare an individual project’s energy savings to a code-based standard, declaring something “green” when a certain percentage is hit, and less damage is done to the environment, RMI notes.

The Green Footstep process is similar in some ways to a life-cycle analysis, instead measuring saved carbon over a building’s lifetime. Users visit www.greenfootstep.org, input location information, site characteristics and building characteristics. The site then shows the project’s carbon emissions.

“The fundamental metric is tons of CO2. Green Footstep compares your building’s CO2 to that of the carbon stored on the building site,” including standing timber and plants on site before he development Bendewald explains. “If the cumulative emissions of the building do not equal the site-stored carbon in its native-state (a positive number), then the project is not carbon neutral.”

Developers and designers can then use that information to change their buildings to pay off that carbon debt and restore the balance, using such methods by reducing building energy use and/or incorporating more renewable energy. Users can establish free accounts so they can save and reload their projects and track the adjustments.

“Mostly architects,” have taken advantage of the program thus far, Bendewald notes. “Building owners, engineers, consultants and educators have also found it useful.”

Designers can use the tool to comply with specific design goals such as LEED certification credits and the 2030 Challenge, an organization looking to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030. The calculator can help decision-making through pre-design to occupancy on residential and commercial buildings, both ground up and retrofits. More than 250 users have used the tool, including Irving Oil’s headquarters in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, which used the calculator to determine early design targets and will revisit it for later phase verification.

“In a world with ecological limits, Green Footstep interactively helps inform decisions about carbon,” said Victor Olgyay, a principal at RMI, in the Green Footstep announcement. “Green Footstep makes it easier for designers to make every building they work on part of the solution to climate change,” says Olgyay.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?



Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2022 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.