Revolutionizing Structural Engineering with Sustainability

09 October 2020

Structural engineering is a specialty within the field of civil engineering that revolves around the structural frameworks and all possible ways on how to withstand the stresses and pressures around their respective environment. This type of engineering helps structures remain safe, stable, and secure and ensure that they do not fall or collapse throughout their structural life cycle.

As the world prioritises sustainable living, a lot of structural engineers face a common challenge when it comes to attaining sustainability. They now integrate the knowledge that they have about maintaining safety and reliability of structures and consequently design them with heavy considerations regarding energy consumption, carbon emissions, and so on. Even the wastes that these structures will generate over time are also determined as structural engineering is gradually revolutionised.

Considering Building Life Cycle

Several buildings that were built for the past couple of years or even decades are being used continuously by various tenants. And as time passes by, numerous residential buildings are turned into office spaces, while other commercial facilities are then converted into factories and warehouses. The functions of a building may vary depending on the demand of the market, but its structural integrity will most likely stay the same throughout its life cycle.

The structural frameworks of most old buildings certainly do not follow and consider sustainable elements, which is why structural engineers now have the responsibility to make their future works safe and sustainable. Incorporating sustainable practices and elements on the structural framework of a building or home helps it adapt any future changes without the need to shell out a huge amount of money. And even if the life cycle of a building ends, the use of sustainable materials and methods will still allow the whole framework of the building to be useful for recycling, reconditioning, and others.

Energy Use and Carbon Emission

Two elements that are frequently talked about when it comes to sustainability are energy and carbon. Almost all the talks about sustainability pertain to the way a specific product maximises energy and its effect on the environment. The same thing goes with carbon. After all, these two elements can directly affect the planet in any possible way.

To regulate energy consumption, it is recommended that the buildings maximise their respective surroundings. For instance, if their location has a great source of daylight, then they must utilise windows and other openings. These elements help the buildings not only receive a lot of natural light but also reduce the need to use artificial lighting fixtures. Temperatures can likewise be regulated by the buildings with the integration of sustainable layout and materials on the wall, roofing, windows, and others. Carbon emission, alternatively, primarily takes place whenever a building is constructed. If the materials used in a building are locally sourced, then the amount of carbon that is used and generated will be significantly lower than exporting building materials. Maximising every local material available can be a great way to achieve a sustainable building or structure since they do not need to be extracted, processed, transported several times.

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