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Thornton Tomasetti launches open-source embodied carbon measurement tool

Beacon is a Revit plugin that generates a comprehensive data visualization of a project’s embodied carbon.

January 08, 2020 |
Beacon is a Revit plugin that generates a comprehensive data visualization of a project’s embodied carbon.

The Embodied Carbon Lab at Thornton Tomasetti has calculated the embodied carbon of more than 600 structural engineering projects over the past seven years. Beacon was developed based on the firm's experience and deep data sets.


Engineering giant Thornton Tomasetti has launched Beacon, an open-source embodied carbon measurement tool poised to change the way structural engineers understand and manage embodied carbon optimization. The tool gives users the ability to measure embodied carbon, allowing for more informed decisions throughout the design process.

Beacon is being introduced after an intensive, three-year research and development process led by Thornton Tomasetti’s CORE studio, a firm-wide virtual incubator focused on innovation through computational modeling and research. 

The tool is an Autodesk Revit plugin that generates a comprehensive data visualization of a project’s embodied carbon. Beacon provides data in a manner similar to the engineer’s thought process, providing a clear visualization of a project’s embodied carbon quantities by material type, building element and floor levels, allowing engineers to know exactly where embodied carbon can be minimized for optimization. 

It also grades the model’s embodied carbon levels against the Carbon Leadership Forum’s database of models by building type using a red, yellow, and green rating system.


embodied carbon reseach 

Beacon’s launch follows Thornton Tomasetti’s November 2019 release of results from its multi-year, project-based embodied carbon measurement study. The study focused on identifying the type of structures, materials and components with the highest carbon emissions.

“We decided to make Beacon an open-source and easy-to-use tool, so it can be shared at a global scale,” said Robert Otani, Principal and Chief Technology Officer at Thornton Tomasetti. “We hope this unique and comprehensive tool will push the industry forward into developing innovative strategies that result in more sustainable and efficient structures.”

“The built environment is estimated to be responsible for about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions when building materials are factored in,” said Amy Seif Hattan, Corporate Responsibility Officer at Thornton Tomasetti. “It is up to us to help effect change. Beacon will help structural engineers address embodied carbon in new construction. It will also be extremely valuable to measure progress toward the Carbon Leadership Forum’s Structural Engineers 2050 Challenge’s primary goal of zero carbon buildings by 2050.” 

Hattan added that this challenge was recently endorsed by the Structural Engineering Institute Board of Governors, showing strong industry support for the initiative.

Beacon is available for download at: https://core-studio.gitbook.io/beacon.


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