Sustainability Open


SustainabilityOpen is an initiative to make the built environment a better place. By providing open-source tooling to the building industry we hope to stimulate that every building and structure will become more sustainable. We are also trying to deploy new and quantitative approaches to assess sustainability in an open-source environment.

By providing you, in case you are representing a company or yourself, with an open-source, free-to-use software framework which you can use to build your own design, analysis and assessment tools for sustainable design, there really is no reason anymore why you shouldn’t design in a sustainable manner, or at least analyse and assess your building. The mission is to collaboratively research and build a toolkit that includes many analysis and assessment methods, many components that help with automated design and link to many mainstream software applications, such parametric software applications, BIM applications and geometrical design software.

How does it work?

SustainabilityOpen (or sustainability-open) consists of

  1. The framework
  2. Implemented components


The framework is provided by us for you to use, but it doesn’t do a lot. It only lays the computational infrastructure for others to use. You will need implemented components to use the framework. These components you are either build yourself or download from the internet if they are build by others.

The framework consists of a number of abstract classes, which we call components, which need to be overridden in order to do something. There are three types:

  1. Designers: Designers produce a ‘design’ on which the analysis and assessment components can work.
  2. Analysis components: the analysis components take in a number of design components that aggregated contain the design and perform one or more analyses on the design. The analysis components produce an output for assessment components to use. An example could be an analysis that adds up all materials into their total quantities.
  3. Assessment components: The assessment components take a number of analysis outputs in and perform one or more assessments to produce an assessment result. An example could be an assessment that calculates the total embodied energy in the design from the material quantities.


At the moment there is one special helper component in the framework, the QTOAnalysis, which actually does some work. QTOAnalysis stands for Quantity Take Off Analysis. We have added this component to the framework as we expect that almost any project will use this component. In the future more helper components might be added to the framework.

Framework overview

Below a diagram shows an overview over the framework and the areas where plug-ins can be added. For more information, refer to the documentation.


The framework and components have been designed to be build against Rhinoceros 5.0 and Grasshopper 9. You will need these applications to use the framework.

The code

You can find the source code on Github in these repositories:

Other repositories that will become available soon are:

But you are of course welcome to add new functionality by adding your own plug-in projects. If you drop us an e-mail, we will add them to our component list.

Installation instructions

To install the tools, simply download the latest zip file, unzip it in a directory of your choice and point your Grasshopper installation to that directory. The components will become available under the SustainabilityOpen tab in Grasshopper.


Documentation can be found on this page and in the Github repositories.


The sustainability-open framework is released under the Apache 2.0 license.

The reasoning behind releasing the framework under the Apache 2.0 license is that we want to encourage companies and individuals to build their own component plug-ins and do not want to scare them off with a restrictive license that forces you to give away all your secrets. Of course, we would appreciate it if you have improvement suggestions for the framework to let us know or even better submit some code back to us. Under this license you are also allowed to fork the code, but we of course would highly appreciate if you don’t. We are putting in the hard work to make sure that everybody can benefit from this code. Forking would not make this very efficient for everybody.

The so-bemnext-* plug-ins will be released under a different open-source license with copyleft (to be announced).

In the so-bemnext-* repositories we are contributing our research results. We are happy for you to use those and/or extend them, but please note the copyleft character of the license. As we want to help science forward, we require that if you build on top of these plug-ins, that you help science a step further by sharing back your code.