Friday, November 25, 2016

Q&A: Autocase and the next generation of triple bottom line analysis

The U.S. Green Building Council USGBC, along with Autodesk and Impact Infrastructure, has unveiled a new platform to identify the triple bottom-line impacts of design alternatives.

This past Greenbuild in October 2016 USGBC joined Autodesk and Impact Infrastructure to unveil a new platform called Autocase for Sustainable Buildings, which provides real insights by identifying the triple bottom-line impacts of design alternatives, measured in both quantities and dollars. USGBC recently introduced a new pilot credit called “Informing Design Using Triple Bottom Line Analysis” that rewards projects one point toward certification for conducting a triple bottom-line benefit-cost analysis on at least six LEED credits. Project teams can use Autocase to determine solutions that create optimal returns.
The USGBC caught up with Emma Stewart, head of sustainability solutions at Autodesk, John Williams, CEO of Impact Infrastructure and creator of Autocase, and Theresa Backhus, Sites Technical Specialist at USGBC, to get their insight on how the pilot credit will enhance the certification process and the role of data within design strategy at large.

Tell us about this pilot credit. What went into the decision behind its creation?

Emma: The biggest obstacle to scaling green buildings is the hard dollar cost of investing in greater levels of sustainability. Is it worth the risk? What’s in it for me? Who gains the most? What are the social and environmental impacts to these up-front investments?

Consider that 82 percent of facility executives say “reducing costs” was the top reason they’re bothering to upgrade their buildings to be more energy-efficient (according to the 2016 Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indictor Survey). Every single one of those executives needs a life cycle cost analysis to ensure those upgrades are the right ones to do and collectively pay them back many times over.

We know that LEED-certified buildings have been shown to increase rental and resale rates and boost worker productivity. Greener buildings can also have spin-off benefits to neighbors and the global community by prioritizing locations close to transit, capturing and storing rainwater and sourcing materials regionally. But decision makers also need to understand how these benefits can apply to their buildings in a particular location, and just how much those benefits are worth in dollars.

Autocase for Sustainable Buildings aims to answer those questions, automatically and as part of the design process. Once these analyses became democratized (i.e., feasible at 1 percent of the cost of a custom study and by non-experts) we were happy to hear that USGBC wanted to encourage this type of analysis through a LEED pilot credit.

Theresa: The new pilot credit is open to all rating systems (under BD+C, ID+C, O+M, ND and Homes) for both LEED 2009 and v4. Thus, almost all current and future LEED projects can take advantage of it, which is very exciting. This has the potential to impact a lot of buildings.

The latest version of LEED places emphasis on understanding the life cycle impacts, benefits and tradeoffs of different design decisions. How can integrated analysis tools like Autocase benefit LEED users?

John: By using Autocase, LEED project teams can conduct a benefit cost analysis in advance of project completion to determine what design solutions will create optimal returns and produce a business case on the overall design while earning a point toward LEED certification. This allows project teams and buildings owners to cost-justify green design, communicate the value of enhanced designs to stakeholders and fine-tune designs to build more cost-effective and impactful buildings.

U.S. Green Building Coouncil
Published on 7 November 2016
Written by Amanda Sawit

A press release at entitled "Impact Infrastructure Introduces AutoCASE, Sustainable Return on Investment Tool - New Service Makes Triple Bottom Line Analysis an Integrated Part of a BIM Project Workflow" on January 14, 2015 follows:

Impact Infrastructure today unveiled AutoCASE, a cutting-edge, cloud-based tool that enables triple-bottom line business case analysis to become an integrated part of a BIM project design workflow.  Triple Bottom Line [TBL] analysis goes beyond exploring only the engineering aspects of a design to embrace an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental and financial. 

AutoCASE is available in two forms: a plug in for Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D, a key member of the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Premium and Ultimate, and as a stand-alone service accessed via a web browser.  The new TBL cloud-based service helps to automate the process for valuing what have traditionally been considered intangible benefits, such as air pollution, property value and recreational space.

This valuation process uses location-specific data for each project. AutoCASE gives engineers, architects, designers, and finance professionals the flexibility and efficiency to provide rigorous analysis through all stages of infrastructure planning and design. 

John Williams, Impact Infrastructure’s Chairman and CEO said, “Today, it’s more important than ever to design projects that consider more than simply capital and operating costs.  Infrastructure projects affect a range of stakeholders including local residents, businesses, governments, and the environment. Traditionally, the majority of these effects have been difficult to quantify, which has resulted in non-financial impacts being given less weight in the decision-making process.  AutoCASE changes all of that.  Major project sponsors are looking to maximize total returns.  For example, the San Francisco Airport Capital Program procurement documents require TBL analysis as part of competitive submissions for upcoming design build offerings.”

Emma Stewart, Head of Sustainability Solutions, Autodesk said, “With direct access to AutoCASE from within AutoCAD Civil 3D, it’s like bringing an economist, ecologist and public health expert to your desk to help prioritize alternative planning scenarios based on societal value. “Users will be able to plan, design and finance proposals, placing emphasis on achieving optimal financial, economic, social and environmental returns. AutoCASE generates TBL business cases quickly, so when changes occur, teams can see the impact immediately and use this information to increase their chances to win financing and buy-in from community stakeholders.”

Using the vast analytical potential of Building Information Modeling (BIM), AutoCASE makes triple bottom line business case analysis affordable, easy to produce, and accessible to infrastructure professionals around the world.  Key features and benefits include:

Quantifying social & environmental impacts to enhance the project’s business case

Providing an easy-to-use interface that is both flexible and powerful

Utilizing the most up-to-date information, research and methodologies

Pricing and Availabiltiy
Announced today at a launch event held in the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, the new AutoCASE cloud-based TBL service and tool for AutoCAD Civil 3D is now available from Impact Infrastructure.  The initial plug-in module for AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCASE for Stormwater, is available worldwide in English only, with data to support projects in the United States and Canada.  AutoCASE for Stormwater is available for free trial usage from today through February 1. For more availability and subscription pricing information visit Impact Infrastructure’s AutoCASE website at
E. Camelback Rd. at N. 68th St., Scottsdale, Arizona

According to Autocase for Sustainable Buildings uses the following methodology:
  • Determine the building’s pre-certification maximum rental income (at 100% capacity) by multiplying the current local market rental rate per square foot by the total square footage of the rental space.
  • Determine the building’s pre-certification rental income by multiplying its pre-certification maximum rental income (step 1) by the current local occupancy rate.
  • Incorporate the increased occupancy rates due to achieving a LEED certification using the values in the table below by summing the initial occupancy rate with the increase in occupancy (with a maximum at 100%).
  • Incorporate potential increases in the rental rate due to certification by increasing the pre-certification maximum rental income (step 1) by due to achieving a LEED certification.
  • Determine the building’s post-certification rental income by multiplying the building’s post-certification maximum rental income (step 4) by the new occupancy rate (step 3).
  • Calculate the incremental net benefit due to achieving a LEED rating by taking the difference between the pre and post-certification rental incomes (steps 2 and 5). adds the following screenshots



Additional information is available at 

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