To meet global emissions targets and curb the negative effects of climate change, ambitious
sustainability goals must be set and exceeded in the design of the buildings we create. Given the large carbon footprint of the built environment, a unified approach to the environmental performance of structural materials can produce a substantial positive impact.

Each individual project presents an opportunity to optimize the environmental performance of the structural materials and doing so will produce positive sustainability outcomes for the project and the industry at large.

This guide aims to illustrate that through proper communication and planning, ambitious environmental outcomes can be achieved. These positive environmental outcomes can often be accompanied by cost benefits to the project.

This guide is not attempting to address all parts of a project’s low-carbon potential. It is also not
attempting to answer the early project decisions of what structural system or materials to consider, or if the building should be an adaptive re-use or new construction project. Those decisions should happen before this guide comes into use.

While the specification and procurement ideas behind this guide can be adopted to other materials and systems, this guide is a narrow focus on two of the biggest embodied carbon point sources within a typical Type 1 non-combustible construction project: the concrete and the steel structural frame.

 

Objectives of the Guide

  • Illustrate the environmental impact of structural materials.
  • Provide sample language for contract and bid documents.
  • Encourage adoption of this approach to specifying and bidding sustainable structural materials.
  • Unify the nature of requests to the structural material suppliers.

Contents of the Guide

  • Life Cycle Decision Making – Embodied Carbon

  • Timeline

  • Implementation & Realization of Low-Carbon Structure

  • Additional Material Consideration

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