The world of architecture and construction is always on the move, always evolving. But we've reached a point where we can't ignore the elephant in the room: the impact that new building construction on our precious environment.

In response to this pressing concern, Symetri has set out on a mission to reshape how architects and designers approach sustainable building design. Enter Naviate Zero, a brand-new Revit add-on that's here to make sustainable building design a lot easier.

Imagine having the power to figure out the carbon footprint of different materials, then effortlessly slotting them into your building plans, and even sharing that info with different designers, engineers, and other people on your team. That's what Naviate Zero brings to the table.

We talked to Jens Kollserud, CEO of Symetri, to learn more.

What was the inspiration behind Naviate Zero? 

Jens Kollserud: 
As a company, Symetri’s purpose is to challenge people to work smarter for a better future. In line with this, we decided our focus between 2021 and 2025 would be on decarbonization. The majority of carbon emissions worldwide arise from the manufacturing and construction industries — the very sectors we've served since our inception in 1989.

Our clients design and produce buildings, infrastructure, and products. Recognizing the impact of our clients' industries on the environment, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to contribute positively. Our goal was to ensure people make informed sustainability decisions. To achieve this, they needed access to data and tools. Historically, decisions in construction and manufacturing were predominantly influenced by price, time, and availability. We wanted to incorporate CO2 impacts into the decision-making process as well.

This brought us to the realization that accessing the right data was crucial. We partnered with a Finnish company, One Click LCA, a leader in this realm with extensive databases of materials from various countries. We envisioned integrating their data with the design tools our clients were using, such as Revit. And that’s how Naviate Zero came to be.

“Informed decisions lead to reduced wastage and a smaller carbon footprint.”

You mentioned the importance of making informed decisions. Could you elaborate on why it’s important to make informed decisions? 

Informed decisions are pivotal for two main reasons: First, it's financially sensible to buy only the materials you need. Second, informed decisions lead to reduced wastage and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Unlike manufacturing, construction often takes place on-site, leading to increased wastage. This means transporting materials to a specific location where they are then assembled, cut, or molded. But this method results in a significant waste of materials; roughly 20 to 30% of all materials end up as waste — which not only has a financial impact but also a considerable environmental cost in terms of carbon emissions.

“Carbon-smart” material selection means that you can choose the material alternatives that have the lowest Co2e impact related to the geographical location of the building site.

Besides making decisions related to materials, it is also important to choose what manufacturer's material you use since manufacturing process emissions and material logistics also have a big impact.

Ultimately, informed decisions allow for better outcomes. If you're unaware of the consequences of your choices, you can't make better decisions.

What is your hope for Naviate Zero as a product?

Naviate Zero isn’t primarily a commercial venture for us. While there are companies aiming to calculate CO2 emissions and other sustainability metrics, we view them as collaborators in a shared mission rather than competitors.

Our goal with Naviate Zero is broader than just one product: it's about creating a holistic approach to decarbonization. For example, we also have Naviate Daylight in our portfolio, which helps in energy consumption reduction by optimizing natural light use in buildings. Naviate Zero is just one aspect of our larger mission to help customers work smarter and more sustainably, offering tools to make informed decisions, whether that's about making smarter material choices, reducing material waste, or optimizing energy usage.

We're developing a suite of applications within the Naviate portfolio, each addressing different aspects of the construction process. While sustainability is a key focus, there are other areas where we believe Naviate can help customers work smarter.

“If you're unaware of the consequences of your choices, you can't make better decisions.”

It seems like the ecosystem around buildings is evolving towards sustainability. Previously, sectors might have operated in silos, but now it appears there's a convergence. Would you say that's accurate?

Absolutely. We're trying to bridge the gap between product manufacturers, builders, designers, and those involved in infrastructure. While the building is a construction industry endeavor, the building components like doors, windows, and ventilation, as well as the products inside—like toilet seats, chairs, and sofas—belong to manufacturing. All these entities play a part in this ecosystem and impact us.

Our aim is to integrate these sectors; and integrate reliable data for informed decision-making in sustainable design and construction. With upcoming regulations like environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), we'll have a plethora of information. The challenge is to make that data accessible and intuitive, enabling individuals to make informed decisions without being overwhelmed.

The end goal is to make sustainable choices straightforward and the unsustainable ones clear.

To learn more about Naviate Zero, click here.