Structural design should play a key role in sustainability, more than just simply looking at recycled material content or local building materials. Taller floor heights and shallower structural systems may be crucial in working with architectural design and MEP systems. Reducing the amount of thermal bridges and thermal conductance of connections through the building’s envelope, and exposing the structure to eliminate extra finish materials are just a few examples of how we as structural engineers can help make a difference in the design approach.
Life-cycle assessment (LCA) has been incorporated further in LEED v4 which allows project teams to use a whole building LCA to optimize decisions on the building structure and envelope. Measuring a building's CO2 impact early in the project can involve examining different structural systems, allowing for the team to include sustainability in the process of choosing which structural system is best for the project.
We are committed in our approach to sustainability; this includes having a LEED Accredited Professional in the office and being a member of and actively participating in the Vermont Green Building Network, the Vermont Chapter of the USGBC.
Whether the project involves restoring an old timber frame from a torn-down barn for a new custom home, engineering the structural design for an entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, or researching new methods for structural support for a passive house design, we welcome the challenges that lie ahead in trying to minimize a building’s environmental impact.
Information on the Hudson Passive House, a highly insulated design that works in conjunction with the structural system to reduce heating energy consumption by up to 90%, can be found on the website by Barlis Wedlick Architects, LLC, at www.hudsonpassiveproject.com; we were fortunate to be involved as engineer-of-record on both the original house and the additions to it.
Representative previous complete LEED projects include:
*Projects listed were completed as Engineer of Record/Project Manager while with Engineering Ventures, PC
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