The committee’s Carbon Working Group white paper, "Structure and Carbon: How Materials Affect the Climate" will explore how carbon dioxide and other emissions contribute to climate change, how the manufacturing of the structural materials in buildings creates such emissions, and the ways that structural engineers can make changes in their current practice to reduce greenhouse gases. In a nutshell, we aim to quantify the carbon footprint of structure, and provide tools for designers to reduce it.
The paper covers the modern structural materials: concrete, steel, masonry, wood, and fiber-reinforced polymers. Carbon footprint data is based on life cycle assessment research conducted for industry trade groups and research consortiums such as AISC, PCA, Athena, and CORRIM. In addition to reporting raw emission numbers, we show how the data can be used to study material optimization on an example floor plate. We also discuss uncertainty in the data collected, to make users aware of current limitations and to promote further study.
"Structure and Carbon: How Materials Affect the Climate" is in its final review phase. Look for its public release on this website later this year.
Post by Carbon Working Group liaison, Adam Slivers, P.E., S.E., Associate at KPFF Consulting Engineers in Seattle, WA.