How Architects Can Engage their Structural Engineers on Embodied Carbon Reductions

  1. When asking for a structural engineering proposal on a new project, ask the engineer to include a fee for a whole building life cycle assessment (WBLCA) and budget for attendance to sustainability charrettes, when applicable. Ask for clear definitions of the scope and deliverables from a WBLCA and the tracking of embodied carbon reductions in the proposals.
  2. For new construction targeting LEED certification, encourage the structural engineer to perform the WBLCA on the structural system for LEED v4.1 Materials and Resources Credit 1 (MRc1). Coordinate beforehand with the structural engineer that scope and fee are included or adjusted for performing a WBLCA in the engineering proposal.
  3. Ask your structural engineering consultant if their firm is committed to the SE2050 Challenge or has an embodied carbon action plan that targets a net-zero embodied carbon by 2050.
  4. Early in Design, ask the structural engineer to provide rough estimates of embodied carbon associated with typical structural systems and embodied carbon associated with building materials.
  5. Invite your structural engineering consultant to sustainability design charrettes for a project. Ask participants, including your structural engineer, to come to the design charrettes with sustainability and embodied carbon reduction ideas that the project could incorporate.
  6. Ask your structural engineer about what structural system would be the most efficient for the project’s usage, massing, and layout with consideration towards minimizing the embodied carbon. If possible, include the contractor during these discussions.
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