Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Value of Structural Engineering to Sustainable Construction


Numerous rating schemes have been proposed to incentivize green design, but how well do these codes relate to the building structures. The Institution of Structural Engineers set out to identify which green codes, if any, successfully addressed structures. Their report, titled The Value of Structural Engineering to Sustainable Construction, takes a methodical look at provisions in eight main categories common to most of the rating systems:
  1. Reuse
  2. Reduction of Portland cement
  3. Recycled content
  4. Responsible sourcing 
  5. Local sourcing
  6. Life cycle assessment
  7. Efficiency & future proofing
  8. Health implications
The conclusions are generally predictable, but the report does a nice job of recommending changes to improve the codes. Highest on the list are needed changes to those credits witch promote a perversion of the sustainable intent, like achieving full recycled content credit by using structural steel (over 90% post-industrial recycled content by nature) or using more interior finish for it's recycled content when a polished concrete wall would be perfectly fine. The best features of the report are the meticulously researched figures and user surveys. Anyone preparing a talk on sustainable structures should read this report for statistical backup to their conclusions.

Download the report at:

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