Friday, July 27, 2012

Thermal Bridging Working Group Update


The Thermal Bridging Working Group is actively trying to spread awareness of thermal bridging, and how structural engineers can address it, to help make more efficient building envelopes and reduce unnecessary energy losses. This has been aided with their recent publication in AISC’s ModernSteel Construction. Learn more about this free resource on our previous post or download the file electronically from MSC

Detailing to prevent or reduce thermal bridging is much more mainstream outside of the United States, so the group is working to bring local consultants up to speed, and make all designers aware of the issues and impacts associated with envelope details. A recent article in Building Science emphasizes the importance of proper detailing to prevent thermal bridges, and points out some common details. This article by Joseph Lstiburek can be found here.

In the meantime, the group is working on their next publication, which is a larger guide to thermal bridging. This new guide will focus on all material types including wood, masonry, and concrete. They are also hoping to arrange some presentations throughout the country over the next year. Stay posted for more information regarding upcoming speaking dates.

Article by Thermal Bridging Working Group web liaison Raquel Ranieri, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, senior associate with Walter P Moore in Los Angeles, CA. For more information about the Thermal Bridging Working Group please refer to our website.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Diaster Resilience Part of Sustainability Too

The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building at University of California, San Francisco. (Bruce Damonte, courtesy Rafael Vinoly Architects)
Surviving and thriving after natural events like earthquakes, storms, and tsunamis is a key component of sustainability. Although designers have previously placed more emphasis on material selection and energy performance, there's no disputing that buildings that survive extreme events are more sustainable than those that must be rebuilt. This article in the Pacific Standard further explores disaster resilient AND sustainable structural engineering. 
Friday, July 20, 2012

Coming Soon: New White Paper on Disaster Resilience


The Disaster Resilience Working Group is hard at work on a white paper that highlights the connections between disaster resilience and sustainability.  The document is still evolving but is starting to take form.  The white paper is expected to be finished by late 2012 and released to the public in mid-2013 after undergoing peer review.

The first chapter defines the main concepts and highlights the impacts of disasters and the importance of hazard mitigation.  The second chapter provides concise but useful considerations for resilient structural design and points the reader to resources for technical guidance.  The next chapter provides an international perspective with a discussion of disasters in developing countries.  A final chapter is planned with case studies to provide examples for some of the concepts presented in the paper.  

The Disaster Resilience Working Group is interested in gaining members that are willing to help with the white paper or looking to champion additional projects related to sustainability and resilience.  The Sustainability Committee has an open solicitation for new members, more.  Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for membership and indicate how they can contribute to the working group.  

Article by Disaster Resilience Working Group web liaison Tonatiuh Rodriguez-Nikl, Ph.D., P.E., Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles. For more information about the working group please contact Tona at
Monday, July 16, 2012

Hajjar & Webster Design for Deconstruction

What if aging buildings could be dismantled and their components reused? Jerry Hajjar, Northeastern University, and Mark Webster, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, have received a $250,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation to study design for deconstruction. Using structural clamps to attach precast plank to steel girders is one of the concepts to be evaluated. Read more about their work on the news@Northeastern web publication.
Saturday, July 14, 2012

Announcing the SEI Sustainabillity Committee's New Web Presence


The Sustainability Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE-SEI) has re-launched their website with a new, more dynamic and interactive format. The goal of the new website is to provide current information, promote discussion, and build connections between organizations and individuals interested in sustainable structures.

The new site will present weekly updates from the committee’s technical working groups. Web 2.0 features will make it easier to interact with the site and allow visitors to share interesting links with their personal networks.

The SEI Sustainability Committee was formed in 2005 with the following mission to:

·      Advance the understanding of sustainability in the structural community
·      Incorporate concepts of sustainability into structural engineering standards and practice.

In 2010 the committee published a 300-page book titled Sustainability Guidelines for the Structural Engineers, available for purchase through ASCE Press. The book provides guidelines and advice to structural engineers, identifying the important role that structural engineers play in sustainable development.

Structures take up an enormous amount of material resources and energy in their manufacture, transport, construction, and end-of-life disposal. Efficient material use and specification contributes greatly to the sustainability of a project. Superstructure is also typically the first item constructed on site and can therefore inhibit or enhance the subsequently installed systems that greatly affect operational energy performance. Finally, structural engineers are in a position of influence within the design team, connecting the purse strings of the developer to the activities of the builder. Communication and decisions made with the design-build team ultimately determine whether a sustainable project will be pursued.

To learn more about structures and sustainability continue to explore this site. The SEI Sustainability Committee welcomes all design professionals.

For additional information about the website’s features and the public roll-out please contact the website working group lead, Ken Maschke,
Thursday, July 5, 2012

Passive House Institute US


Is it possible to heat a house with a hair dryer? If so, it would probably be a Passive House.  The Passive House concept is currently the highest energy standard that residential homes can pursue. Over the past 10 years, more than 15,000 buildings in Europe have been designed to the Passive House standard. Learn more by following the link.

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Disaster Resilience

A sustainably-built environment is not obtained just by using greener building materials or improving energy efficiency.  It also requires facilities to remain useful through disasters, environmental attack, and changes in the occupants and uses of a structure.  The goals of the Disaster Resilience Working Group are to:
  1. Promote awareness of the importance to sustainability of disaster resilience.
  2. Provide guidance that structural engineers can use to design disaster resilient structures.
  3. Actively coordinate with and support efforts of other groups working in similar areas.
The Disaster Resilience Working Group is working on a short white paper that highlights the connections between disaster resilience and sustainability, and that provides broad recommendations.  The white paper is expected to be completed in May, 2013.
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