Relevance of Structural Engineers to Sustainable Design of Buildings

August 30, 2004
Publication: Structural Engineering International: Journal of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) v 14 n 3 p 181-185
Author(s): Mark Webster

Abstract: Examination of building life cycle environmental impacts shows that the structural system can be a major contributor to overall environmental impacts. Although the structural impacts for most buildings in the United States and Canada are relatively small compared to the operational energy use impacts, in areas where electricity sources are predominantly from renewable sources and in energy efficient buildings the relative impact of the structural systems becomes very important. The structural system can account for more than one-third of the material use and waste generation and more than 10% of the energy use and greenhouse gas production over a building lifespan of 50 years. In absolute terms, the greenhouse emissions caused by building structural systems in the United States is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions caused by 22 million new cars driven 19,000 km per year. The significance of these impacts makes the structural engineer a key member of the ecologically-oriented design team.

Services: Structural Design