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Sustainability Committee Update October 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The ASCE-SEI Sustainability Committee, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, continues to work diligently on its two-fold mission:
- to advance the understanding of sustainability in the structural community and
- to incorporate concepts of sustainability into structural engineering standards and practices

Members of the committee have been researching how structural engineers can implement more sustainable practices in the following areas:
- Life Cycle Assessment: reducing the environmental impacts associated with building materials and construction practices
- Green Codes: providing information on green practices associated with codes and rating systems such as LEED
- Infrastructure: studying the environmental impacts associated with bridges and other infrastructure
- Disaster Resilience: designing structures to be more resilient to natural disasters (mitigating the need for new construction after a disaster)
- Thermal Bridging: designing structures at the building envelope to be more energy efficient

In the past year, many members of the committee have spoken on sustainability in structural engineering at events across the country. In addition, members of the committee have published the latest information on green practices. A short (and by no means exhaustive) list of some of these talks/articles:
-  'Does Transparent Reporting Add Value to Green Buildings' presentation by Mark Webster at the 2014 International Concrete Sustainability Conference
-  'Structures and Sustainability' presentation by Jim D'Aloisio at the SEI Local Leaders Structures and Sustainability Workshop in San Diego
- 'Whole-building life-cycle assessment (WBLCA): Promises and Pitfalls' presentation by Frances Yang and Mark Webster
-  'Aesthetic Impacts of Thermal Bridging Mitigation' presentation by Jim D'Aloisio at the 2015 Structures Congress
- 'Reduction of Carbon Emissions from Building Structures' session moderated by Tona Rodriguez-Nikl at the 2015 Structures Congress, which included the following presentations
- 'Portland Cement Reduction Strategies for Low-rise Buildings' presentation by Jim D'Aloisio
- 'Comparing the Embodied Carbon of a Deconstructable Structural Floor to Conventional Floor Systems' presentation by Frances Yang
- 'Construction Monitoring of Steel-framed Buildings to Assess Reuse Potential of Structural Steel' presentation by Jennifer McConnell (and others)
- 'Life Cycle Analysis of Deconstructable Floor Systems' presentation by Mark Webster (and others)
- Hold Your Buildings to Higher Standards... of Resilient Design article by the Disaster Resilience Working Group

- Top 10 LCA FAQs article by the Life Cycle Assessment Working Group
- 'Carbon Reduction: the New Structural Design Parameter' article by Jim D'Aloisio in Structure Magazine

We have been going through some notable leadership transitions of late. Lionel Lemay has stepped up to lead the new Green Codes & Standards Working Group. Erica Fischer has taken on leadership of the Disaster Resilience Working Group. We elected a new group of officers: Jennifer McConnell (Secretary), Mark Webster (Vice-Chair), and myself (Chair). I am honored to take over as Chair for Jim D'Aloisio, who has led the committee admirably for the past 3 years. We've had several valuable members (Tona Rodriguez-Nikl, Raquel Ranieri, Lindsey Maclise, John Anderson, and Martha VanGeem) end their six year committee terms. This Spring, we had a productive committee face-to-face meeting at the 2015 Structures Congress in Portland. This Fall, we welcomed two new members: Chris Horiuchi of SOM and Lauren Wingo of Arup. This coming year, we will be publishing important guidelines on Carbon and Structures, Thermal Bridging, Disaster Resilience, and Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment.
We are always looking for members who are passionate about applying sustainable practices in structural design and research. You can find out more about the committee on their website . Questions? Contact committee chair Dave DeLong .