Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Structure and Carbon: How Materials Affect the Climate

The Carbon Working Group (CWG) is pleased to announce the release of their white paper titled, Structure and Carbon: How Materials Affect the Climate. CWG is a dedicated and concerned group of engineering professionals with design, industrial, and academic backgrounds. They are united in passion for addressing the causes of climate change today through professional practice.

The intent of this white paper is to serve as a primer on greenhouse gas emissions, the most important of which is carbon dioxide (informally referenced simply as “carbon”), for the structural engineering community and others with an interest in the carbon impacts of structural materials and systems. It explains:

  1. Why structural engineers must understand greenhouse gas emissions
  2. How the construction of building structural systems contributes to greenhouse gas emissions
  3. How we as a profession can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with structural systems.
Ultimately, the authors hope that this paper will spur actions that will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with building structures. The materials in the built environment are a substantial source of anthropogenic carbon emissions, and structural engineers have unique opportunities to specify materials for construction projects that can significantly affect the contribution of each project to more climate changes.

The choices of structural engineers make a difference. The risk of destructive climate change impacts can be reduced by choosing and using building materials with climate change in mind. This white paper introduces some strategies structural engineers may use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Download the white paper here.

For further information on how to reduce structures' environmental impact, see the SEI Sustainability Committee’s  Sustainability Guidelines for the Structural Engineer (Kestner et al, 2010).
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Carbon Working Group

The purpose of the Carbon Working Group (CWG) is to study the carbon impacts of structural materials and systems and to make recommendations for reducing the carbon footprint of the structural system. The CWG has recently produced a white paper intended primarily for practicing structural engineers that addresses the following topics. Download it here.

  1. Explain the importance of carbon and the meaning of carbon equivalents.
  2. Describe how, and during which parts of the lifecycle, carbon is embodied in the various primary structural materials (steel, concrete, wood, masonry).
  3. Discuss how the engineer can impact the carbon footprint of the structural system and building.
  4. Provide examples of carbon calculations comparing baseline cases and improved cases.
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