Online Architecture and Engineering Design Tools

Here is a short selection of online free design tool. This list is in no way definitive, but has the tools I’ve used and found useful.

Snow Load, Wind Speed, and Seismic Load Maps, Dlubal (Free Trial)

Maps of snow, wind and seismic loads. Contact them for an educational licence.

Structural Layout OptimisatioN (Free)

Fairclough, H.E., Pritchard, T.J., He, L., Gilbert, M. (2020) LayOpt: A truss layout optimization web application, LimitState Ltd, Sheffield

A web tool to adjust load, supports and volume to create the minimum volume layout for a section.

City Climate Doppleganger (free)

A web tool to find cities with similar climates which allows you to better compare buildings from the same enviornment.

Part of a series of climate and weather tools available on the website.

British GeoloGy Data (Free)

Borehole and geology data from around the country to better understand the group and water under your site from the British Geological Survey.


Zhenzhou Weng 2020 Research Work

A free webtool that allows quick modelling of sunlight access, daylight factors, natural ventilation, fabric heat transfer, heating load, thermal comfort and sound reverberation.

Solar Shading Box (Free)

Dr. Andrew Marsh (

A tool to look at the sun path on a site, overshadowing at different times of year and the impact of obstructions.

Part of a series of web tools developed by Dr. Andrew Marsh which are worth checking out.

– Thank you to Giles Bruce of A-Zero Architects for suggesting this tool

Torsten Hoffmann

Solar Path (Free)

A quick web tool to get solar position information.

It doesn’t have all the same function as the one by Dr. Andrew Marsh but it is quick to access and use by Torsten Hoffmann.

Material Selection Charts, Cambridge University (Free)

Lovatt A.M., Shercliff H.R. and Withers P.J. (2000), “Material selection and processing” (; data courtesy of Granta Design Ltd, Cambridge, UK.

Visual charts to compare the properties of different materials including their strength, density, young’s modulus, cost, elongation, toughness and others.

It’s useful to get an idea of the properties of the material and compare them to alternatives.

The Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) (Free for Students)

Lots of standards, guidance and excellent case studies on timber construction.

If you are a student or academic, you can join with a university email address and can get access for free.


One of the key embodied carbon resources, giving the embodied carbon of different materials for the UK.

Free to download, created by Dr Craig Jones with Professor Geoff Hammond.

Material Pyramid (FREE)

The data is for Northern Europe/Scandinavia but still provides a quick clear comparison of different materials.

Building Layer Analysis Tool (FREE)

An online tool to build up different layers and compare the performance.

– Thank you to Tom Raymont of Arboreal Architecture for suggesting this tool

These are a few tools I’ve recently found but haven’t been able to test yet.

Global Footprint Network Ecological Footprint Calculator (Free)

A website to calculate your ecological and carbon footprint.

Strain Structural Analysis Webtool (Free)

A website to analyse 2D structural frames.

– Thank you to for suggesting this tool

Mesh Embodied Carbon Calculator (free)

A embodied carbon calculator free for download.

Therm Heat Transfer Analysis (FREE)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Thermal Transfer Software

A downloadable tool to model two-dimensional building heat-transfer.

– Thank you Ajay Shah for suggesting this tool

Photovoltaic Energy Generation (FREE)

Photovoltaic energy generation for different locations, setups and PV technology.

– Thank you to Xavier Aguiló i Aran for suggesting this tool

CIBSE Weather Data (Free)

CIBSE developed weather files which allow for the analysis of a buildings performance over time.

Concrete Embodied Carbon Footprint Calculator (FREE)

A free tool to calculate and compare the embodied carbon based on the cement mix.

WWF Carbon Footprint (Free)

A quick UK tool to calculate your personal carbon footprint by answering a series of questions. It takes less than 5 minutes.

Personal Water Footprint Calculator (Free)

A web tool to calculate your personal water footprint.

Life Cycle Analysis of Net Zero Energy Buildings (FREE)

An online tool to conduct life cycle analysis of net zero energy buildings. It allows you to look at case studies and change variables in the design to see their impact.

CIBSE Energy Benchmarking Tool (FREE Beta)

Online platform for energy benchmarks for different building types.

Details Architecture Seen in Section (FREE)

Research project examining and sharing sections and details of projects.

Uk Statistics on Waste (Free)

The UK government page with information on waste so you can see where materials are going and either reduce the use of those materials or look at ways to reuse them more.

Healthy Materials Lab (Free)

A selection of resources, tools and materials to help designers make good choices about materials.

BMA Water Calculator (Free)

Biomass Chemical Composition Database (Free)

A database of chemical composition of biomass which allows the calculation of the carbon factor and sequestration of different plants.

Simscale Fluid and Finite Element Analysis (Free for Educational Use)

A web based analysis tool using cloud computing to complete complex analysis.

– Thank you to for suggesting this tool

Alliance of Sustainable Building Products Resources (FREE)

Webinars, case studies and product information.


Downloadable software to help with the design of traditional Japanese connections including using modern manufacturing techniques.

– Thank you to Xavier Aguiló i Aran for suggesting this tool