Frequently Asked Questions

General Program

How does the SE 2050 Commitment relate to the SE 2050 Challenge?

The SE 2050 Commitment is the Structural Engineering Institute’s response to the SE 2050 Challenge that was issued by the Carbon Leadership Forum in the Summer of 2019.

I signed the SE 2050 Challenge, why don’t I see my name or my firm’s name here? Do I need to sign up again?

Yes. The SE 2050 Commitment is separate from the Challenge sign up.

Why focus on structure?

Structure typically represents about half of the embodied carbon in a building project. Choices by the structural engineer can reduce the embodied carbon significantly. Furthermore, there is less variety in the basic materials in the structural portion of most buildings, making structure a good starting point for building out a database and testing its usability and usefulness before expanding to other materials. Structural engineers have not been viewed as an essential member of the green building team on most projects. This is something that needs to change if we are to reach carbon emissions reduction targets.

What incentive will there be for structural engineering firms, especially small firms, to invest their time/resources to this?

This is a call to elevate the profession of structural engineering, which has historically not had a large role in sustainable design. Several green building programs and codes, such as LEED, Living Building Challenge, ASHRAE 189.1, IgCC, and CalGreen, have introduced voluntary embodied carbon (or broader LCA) measures that invite structural engineers to join the green building movement. Participation in this Commitment Program will help firms perform the embodied carbon or LCA calculations that may soon be asked of them due to these green building programs or codes. See the Join the Movement page for information regarding the levels of commitment and minimum amount of project data required to be part of the Commitment Program.

Where do I submit the firm commitment letter?

You can upload it here:

Who does the firm-wide distribution need to?

The SE 2050 program is primarily targeted at structural engineers. Distribution should be to anyone contributing to the structural engineering practice at a minimum.

How much do committing firms have to write for ECAP narratives?

There are no prescriptive length requirements. Firms are encouraged to make the ECAP their own and publish

How should firms announce their pledge to join the SE 2050 Commitment?

This is at the discretion of the firms, but is required to be distributed to all structural engineering employees.

Structural Embodied Carbon

What has less embodied carbon, concrete or steel framed structures?

The answer to this question will depend on multiple project-specific factors, including material sourcing. A life-cycle assessment can be used to determine the answer specific to each project.

Are there baseline targets that we should aim for to achieve net zero by 2050?

Currently the only industry target set by SE 2050 is net zero by 2050. SE 2050 intends to work with industry groups to set additional targets that will be released at a future date.

SE 2050 Database

How is the data protected and anonymized?

Data submitted to the SE 2050 Database will be encrypted. Project specific data will never be publicly disclosed. Any identifying information will be removed when aggregating data submitted to the SE 2050 Database so that specific projects cannot be identified.

Will anyone be profiting (money-wise) from the collected data?

No, data submitted to the SE 2050 Database will never be used for revenue generating purposes.

Do I need to get permission from the Owner to share project data?

Firms should use their own discretion when determining which projects are submitted to the SE 2050 Database. Project specific data submitted to the SE 2050 Database will never be publicly disclosed.

Is it strictly meant to inform an open-source database to set benchmarks and targets for the industry?

Yes. SE 2050 is collecting data in order to set benchmarks and to establish industry targets.

What is the role of the Embodied Carbon Reduction Champion?

The Embodied Carbon Reduction Champion is the point person for the SE 2050 Commitment.

Do I have to report the GWP of a structural system using the same LCI database and/or LCA software package?

No. When submitting data to the SE 2050 Database, you will be asked what LCA tool was used to calculate the GWP.

Is there a guidance document or examples on how one reports project information to the SE 2050 database?

The guidance document with examples is under development. Check back soon.

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