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Creators of the first U.S. campaign aimed at reducing embodied carbon in structural systems are issuing a call for engineers to join their crusade to help rid buildings of embodied carbon.
Last month at the virtual Greenbuild Conference, the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers launched its EC reduction initiative, called the Structural Engineers 2050 Commitment Program. SE 2050 is the “first national program focused on structural engineering firm commitments to achieve net-zero EC structural system designs by 2050,” says Michael Gryniuk, chair of the SE 2050 subcommittee of SEI’s sustainability committee.
Measuring and reducing EC in structures is “an emerging field,” adds Gryniuk, an associate with LeMessurier Consultants. But “we do have the sense that the structure is the largest contributor of EC in a new building,” he says.
An office building structure can account for as much as 62% of the EC—45% for the superstructure and 17% for the substructure, according to S. C. Kaethner, of Arup, and J. A. Burridge, of the Concrete Centre, in Embodied CO2 of Structural Frames, in the May 2012 issue of The Structural Engineer. For a hospital or school, the total EC is about 51%, with 40% in the superstructure, say the authors.