A Challenge for Structural Engineers
Structural Materials and the Path to Zero
Recognizing that structural materials account for at least 50% of the carbon emitted in production, delivery, and installation of materials for new construction and the latest IPCC reports tell us that the building sector only has until 2050 to reach carbon neutrality, now more than ever, structural engineers members have an opportunity to change the trajectory of the building sector.
The SE 2050 Challenge, an initiative conceived of and developed by members of the Carbon Leadership Forum, was designed to ignite structural engineers and their firms to meet embodied carbon benchmarks and ambitious reduction goals, and be recognized for the significant role they can play towards these targets.
The SE 2050 Challenge states:
“All structural engineers shall understand, reduce and ultimately eliminate embodied carbon in their projects by 2050.”
Committing to the Challenge
In the United States, a group of structural engineers are actively developing and managing a comprehensive program, the SE 2050 Commitment Program.
In development by the Sustainability Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), this group is focused on supporting its professional community in achieving net zero embodied carbon structural systems by 2050. Recognizing their exemplary work, in April of 2020 the SEI endorsed the group’s work and the SE 2050 Commitment is now an official program of the SEI. This support will exponentially increase awareness and engagement by engineers and their firms with the program.
In addition, the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) in the United Kingdom is championing an initiative to promote a “Structural Engineers Declaration”. Companies are responding across the UK, each making a declaration and commitment to achieve a Net Zero Carbon target.
Structural Engineers of the United Kingdom Take Action
Similar to the SE 2050 Challenge and corresponding SE 2050 Commitment Program, we are pleased to announce that the buildings industry across the UK made declarations, (as part of the UK Structural Engineers Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency) to achieve a Net Zero Carbon target. The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) of the UK is championing an initiative to promote the “Structural Engineers Declaration”.
Evolution of the SE 2050 Challenge
CLF creates working group to develop a data-driven commitment for structural engineering firms to work towards zero embodied carbon buildings – 2016
CLF members propose the idea of a Challenge to ASCE SEI Sustainability Committee, which then forms new working group – Spring 2018
CLF issues formal SE2050 Challenge to SEI Board of Governors, which then endorses the Challenge – Fall 2019
SE2050 working group launches SE 2050 website at Carbon Positive ’20 in LA – March 2020
SEI Board of Governors accepts the Challenge and makes the SE 2050 Commitment a formal SEI program – April 2020
Public launch of the Structural Engineers 2050 Commitment – November 2020
Structural Engineers Challenge: Goal
The goal of the Structural Engineers 2050 (SE 2050) Challenge is to inspire structural engineers to contribute towards the global vision of Zero Carbon buildings by 2050, and to provide measurements of progress towards that vision. Much like the AIA 2030 Challenge does for operational energy in buildings, this SE 2050 initiative will challenge structural engineers to meet embodied carbon benchmarks and increasingly higher reduction targets in a “race towards the most efficient building” as we approach the year 2050.
Accelerating Carbon Reductions Through Action
Structural Engineers! Take these steps today to accelerate embodied carbon reduction in structural systems and materials:
- Assess the embodied carbon of structural systems and create a plan for reduction and accounting.
- Apply lower embodied carbon design strategies (including re-use and performance-based specifications) and material choices into projects.
- Encourage industry and policies to broaden the availability of low carbon and carbon sequestering materials.
- Collaborate with other design professionals to reduce the total embodied carbon of buildings.
- Review the embodied carbon of the structural systems of buildings and infrastructure and assess progress toward reduction targets.
- Share knowledge and data to accelerate broader action towards embodied carbon reduction.
Not a Structural Engineer?
If you are an architect, owner, or design-build contractor you too can take action.
- When selecting your next Structural Engineering partner, view the list of companies that have committed to zero and please consider that significant commitment in your decision making.
View Signatories on this website »
Visit the Structural Engineers Declare website »
- If you do not see your preferred structural engineers on these lists, contact them and let them know how important that commitment is to you and ask them to become a signatory.
Thank you for taking action!
Commit to Zero: The SE 2050 Commitment Program
Inspired by how the architecture community responded to the Architecture 2030 Challenge and how American Institute of Architects (AIA) followed with the 2030 Commitment, a team of structural engineers has set out to develop and manage a comprehensive program designed to ensure substantive embodied carbon reductions in the design and construction of our structural systems. Using a model of collective action, the SE 2050 Commitment Program’s mission is to provides the guidance and resources to achieve net zero embodied carbon structural systems by 2050.
United Kingdom Structural Engineers Declaration
In an open letter to its members, Martin Powell, Chief Executive of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), welcomed a UK Net Zero Carbon target and encouraged companies to change the way they work. He further asked companies across the UK to take the “Structural Engineers Declaration” and commit to actions.
History of the Structural Engineers Challenge
The SE 2050 Challenge exemplifies the role of the Carbon Leadership Forum, to use the collective action model to “inspire action by supporting and empowering its members to advance new ideas and approaches through impactful initiatives.” The SE Challenge and subsequent commitments and declarations were a result of the extraordinary, collective work and contributions from a global network of committed individuals. We wish to acknowledge their exceptional work in sharing the history of this large-scale effort.
History of the SE 2050 Challenge
In 2014, Catherine De Wolf initiated deQo (the database of embodied Quantity outputs) as part of her MIT PhD dissertation completed in 2017. This database included structural material quantities from professional engineers including Arup and Thornton Tomasetti (TT). Inspired from this collaboration, the team, including Duncan Cox (TT), Catherine De Wolf (MIT/EPFL), Amy Hattan (TT ) Kate Simonen (Carbon Leadership Forum/UW), Wil Srubar (U Colorado Boulder) and Frances Yang (Arup) conceived of an idea for a challenge to structural engineers to track and report structural material quantities and embodied carbon and brought the idea to the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) of which Arup and TT are sponsors. In 2016, CLF established an interim core working group to develop a data-driven commitment for structural engineering firms to work towards zero embodied carbon buildings. Arup and TT participated as pilot partners and this became known as “SE 2050”. In Spring 2018, Frances Yang (Arup) and Wil Srubar (U Colorado) introduced the SE 2050 Challenge to the ASCE SEI Sustainability Committee proposing that ASCE/SEI challenge their members to make an SE/SEI 2050 commitment program to track, report and work to reduce embodied carbon from structural materials. Throughout the remainder of 2018, and into 2019, a larger group including a newly formed SE 2050 Working Group within the SEI Sustainability Committee, has advanced the development of the program to encourage broader adoption among structural engineering firms. This has resulted in the SE 2050 Commitment Program development, chaired by Michael Gryniuk (LeMessurier).
- CLF creates working group to develop a data-driven commitment for structural engineering firms to work towards zero embodied carbon buildings – 2016
- CLF members propose the idea of a Challenge to ASCE SEI Sustainability Committee, which then forms new working group – Spring 2018
- CLF issues formal SE2050 Challenge to SEI Board of Governors, which then endorses the Challenge – Fall 2019
- SE2050 working group launches SE 2050 website at Carbon Positive ’20 in LA – March 2020
- SEI Board of Governors accepts the Challenge and makes the SE 2050 Commitment a formal SEI program – April 2020
- Public launch of the Structural Engineers 2050 Commitment – November 2020
As an initiator of the challenge, the Carbon Leadership Forum is committed to working with the SE 2050 Commitment Program to promote, amplify and advance their goals and connect them to their thousands of industry sector members.
Many thanks to the following individuals who have contributed to the SE 2050 Initiative (listed alphabetically by first name):
- Amy Hattan (Thornton Tomasetti)
- Catherine De Wolf (EPFL)
- Christopher Horiuchi (SOM)
- Dirk Kestner (Walter P Moore)
- Duncan Cox (Thornton Tomasetti)
- Emily Lorenz (PCI)
- Erin McDade (Architecture 2030)
- Frances Yang (ARUP)
- Kate Simonen (University of Washington, Carbon Leadership Forum)
- Kelly Roberts (Walter P. Moore)
- Kelsey Price (Magnusson Klemencic Associates)
- Lauren Wingo (ARUP)
- Mark D. Webster (Simpson Gumpertz & Heger)
- Megan Stringer (Holmes Structures)
- Michael Gryniuk (LeMessurier)
- Teresa Vangeli (WSP)
- Wil Srubar (University of Colorado)
Structural Engineers 2050 Challenge Signatories
Signatories to a letter urging the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to formally endorse the SE 2050 Challenge.
The SE 2050 Challenge states:
“All structural engineers shall understand, reduce and ultimately eliminate embodied carbon in their projects by 2050.”
The SEI Board of Governors endorsed the vision of the SE 2050 Challenge by stating:
“We, the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), support the vision and ambition of the SE 2050 Challenge. We, as a leading structural engineering organization in the United States, recognize the need for coordinated action across our profession to achieve the globally stated goal of net zero carbon by 2050.”
Updated May 4, 2020:
Firms (structural engineering or multi-disciplinary firm with dedicated structural group)
- catena consulting engineers
- Coughlin Porter Lundeen
- DeSimone Consulting Engineers
- Douglas Wood Associates, Inc.
- HKS, Inc.
- Holmes Structures
- KL&A Engineers and Builders
- KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Lund Opsahl LLC
- Martinez Moore Engineers
- PCS Structural Solutions
- Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.
- Structural Focus
- Studio NYL
- Thornton Tomasetti
- TLC Engineering Solutions
- Walter P Moore
Individuals (structural engineers)
- Adele Scampoli, Senior Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Adrianne Richardson, Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Ahcene Larbi, Director of Structures, WSP
- Ahmed Abdulshafi, Structural Engineer, Cairo University
- Ainhoa Marin, Bridge and Structural Engineer & PMP, Pontem Engineering Services
- Alan Dyck, Principal, Stantec
- Alcaraz Angel, Senior Engineering Manager, Gravity Engineering Inc.
- Alexander McHugh, Project Manager, KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Ann Jiras, Engineer, Arup
- Annabel Shephard, Graduate Fellow, Oregon State University
- Bill Lovallo, Vice President, LeMessurier.
- Brenda Stern, Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Brian Robinson, Project Engineer, KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Bruce King, Director, Ecological Building Network
- Cara Agan, Structural EIT, HKS Inc.
- Carl Kloos, Vice President, Kurt Fischer Structural Engineering
- Chad Pecsek, Structural Engineer, LeMessurier
- Chase Young, Structural Project Engineer, KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Chris Jeseritz, Project Manager, PCS Structural Solutions
- Clark Shellhorse, Structural EIT, HKS Inc.
- Colin Hug, Engineer/Intern, Thornton Tomasetti
- Craig Blanchet, Vice President, LeMessurier
- Daniel Getz, Director of Structural Engineering, HKS, Inc.
- Dirk Kestner, Principal – Director of Sustainable Design, Walter P Moore
- Duane Tran, Staff Engineer, KPW Structural Engineers
- Edward Bond, Associate Director Structural Engineering, Arcadis
- Eric Borchers, Structural Engineer, Meyer Borgman Johnson
- Eric Johnson, Engineer, LeMessurier
- Eric Lemee, Senior Project Manager, WSP
- Frances Yang, Sustainable Structures and Materials Specialist, Arup
- Grace Di Benedetto, Structural Engineer, Arup
- Greg Davenport, Principal, HKS Inc.
- Greg Kingsley, President and CEO, KL&A Engineers and Builders
- Jackson Pitofsky, Senior Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- James A. Harriott, President, Harriott Valentine Engineers
- Jared Lewis, Principal, catena consulting engineers
- Jason Tornquist, Senior Director | Structural Engineer, tk1sc
- Jay Arehart, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Colorado Boulder
- Jeff Thomas, Project Engineer, BHB Consulting Engineers, PC
- John Essig, Project Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Jonathan C Ellowitz, Project Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Judd Galloway, Senior Associate, Thornton Tomasetti
- Julija Martinkeviciute, Structural Engineer, Heyne Tillett Steel
- Juzer Millwala, Structural Design Engineer, Magnusson Klemencic Associates Inc
- Kelly Roberts, Principal, Walter P Moore
- Kelsey Price, Structural Engineer, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
- Kelsey Wittels, Senior Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Lauren Wingo, Senior Structural Engineer, Arup
- Leo Garber, Senior Structural Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Li-Anne Sayegh, Structural Engineer, Arup
- Linlu Chen, EIT, HKS Inc.
- Lucas Whitesell, Engineer, Arup
- Luke Lombardi, Senior Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Marjorie Lund, Principal, Lund Opsahl LLC
- Mark D. Webster, Senior Consulting Engineer, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
- Mark Nadal, Associate, KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Martin Torres, Graduate Structural Engineer, Walter P Moore
- Mia Jimenez, Graduate Engineer, Walter P Moore
- Michael Gryniuk, Associate, LeMessurier
- Michael Swartz, Structural Engineer, LeMessurier
- Neil Spazzarini, Structural EIT, LeMessurier
- Nicholas Allan, Engineering Director, BamCore
- Nicholas Cordio, Structural Engineer, LeMessurier
- Robby L Vogel, Structural Engineering Design Lead, Stantec Architecture Inc.
- Scott McFadden, Senior Structural Engineer, PEO
- Shana Kelley, Associate – Seattle Structural Director of Sustainable Design, KPFF Consulting Engineers
- Steve Farvour, Senior Associate, PCS Structural Solutions
- Steven Shelt, Director of Structural, TLC Engineering Solutions, Inc
- Teresa C. Vangeli, Supervising Structural Engineer, WSP USA
- Tom Yost, Senior Associate, Walter P Moore
- Triveni Mudaliar, Graduate Structural Engineer, Walter P Moore
- Vaidas Razgaitis, Structural Engineer, Arup
- Victoria Valencia, Engineer, Arup
- Wil Srubar, R&D Technical Director / Assistant Professor, Katerra / University of Colorado Boulder
- Yidi Fang, Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti
Others (non-structural engineering firms or individuals)
- AbdulShafi Ahmed, Technical Office Engineer / Researcher, Cairo University
- Alison Nash, Associate, Sustainability Practice Leader, DiMella Shaffer
- Allison Wilson, Senior Associate, Sustainability Director, Ayers Saint Gross
- Amy Hattan, Corporate Responsibility Officer, Thornton Tomasetti
- Andrea Love, Principal, Payette
- Bob Burnett, Architectural Designer, Bob Burnett Architecture
- Boris Gamazaychikov, PE, Sustainability Consultant, stok
- Charles Stott, Principal, Stott Architects
- Christopher Colasanti, Associate Partner, Jaros Baum & Bolles
- Colley Hodges, Director of Sustainability, Kirksey Architecture
- Daniel Piselli, Director of Sustainability, FXCollaborative
- Erol Oztan, Architect, CEO, Re Use Materials
- EwingCole (architectural firm)
- Flad Architects (architectural firm)
- Gwen Fuertes, Associate, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
- Harry Flamm, Architect & Sustainability Coordinator, Elkus Manfredi Architects
- Heather Gayle Holdridge, Sustainability Director, Lake|Flato Architects
- Helen Kessler, President, HJ Kessler Associates
- Jacob Knowles, Director of Sustainable Design, BR+A Consulting Engineers
- Jacob Peel, Architectural Staff, Bora Architects
- Jacob Werner, Senior Project Architect, Wilson HGA
- Jennifer Cutbill, Principal, Lateral Agency
- Joel Onorato, Architect, Hickok Cole Architects
- Kate Bubriski, Director of Sustainability & Building Performance, Arrowstreet
- Katie Ackerly, Associate, Sustainability Lead, David Baker Architects
- Kristen Fritsch, Sustainability coordinator, Elkus Manfredi Architects
- Mark Kelly, Associate Principal, BAR Architects
- Mike Fowler, Sustainability Integration Leader, Mithun
- Mike Manzi, Associate Principal, Bora Architects
- Nat Crosby, Architect, Sasaki
- Nicholas Leahy AIA, Co-Ceo and Executive Director, Perkins Eastman
- Paul Poirier AIA, LEED AP, Principal Architect, Poirier + Associates Architects
- Rodrigo Castro, Senior LCA Expert, Bionova Ltd
- Ryan McClain, Associate, Elkus Manfredi Architects
- Ryan Zizzo, Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Mantle
- Tate Walker, Director of Sustainability, OPN Architects, Inc.
- Vaclav Hasik, Sustainability Analyst, Urban Fabrick Inc.
- Victoria Herrero-Garcia, Sustainability Consultant, Daylight & WBLCA Analyst, Ambient Energy
- Vijaykumar Kulkarni, Structural Concrete Consultant, Midas Techfin Consultants LLP