Structural Sustainability

Degenkolb Engineers signed on to the SE 2050 Commitment Program in 2020.

The program’s vision: All structural engineers shall understand, reduce, and ultimately eliminate embodied carbon in their projects by 2050.

Global warming is one of the most significant engineering challenges and societal challenges facing us today.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global average temperature between 1880 and 2012 has risen more than 0.85 C. This has led to calls from the scientific community for immediate action to avoid the most damaging, irreversible effects of the phenomena, “including increases in droughts, floods, and some other types of extreme weather; sea level rise; and biodiversity loss […] causing unprecedented risks to vulnerable persons and populations.” Estimates show we will need to limit the global average temperature change to 1.5 C by the end of the 21st century to avoid these effects.  

Achieving this lofty goal requires drastic reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050; however, this would still only grant a 50% chance of meeting the 1.5C goal.

Additionally, the challenge to reduce emissions will be coupled with a drive to increase global building stock as developing nations join the global stage. Between construction and operation, buildings account for nearly two-thirds of global carbon emissions, with over 50% of them being upfront, which are known as embodied emissions. This presents engineers, architects, and contractors alike with a heavy burden to reduce their carbon footprints, but also an opportunity to lead the charge on combating global warming. 

Embodied carbon is important for architects, structural engineers, and contractors to address. Building construction and operation contribute significantly to the global carbon emissions, constituting an estimated 38% each year. Of this contribution, 10% of global carbon emissions are estimated to be a result of the building construction industry. This portion is embodied carbon. 

Read below for the latest news, ideas, and resources related to the intersection of structural engineering and sustainability and, for more information, check out SE2050.org

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2022 Embodied Carbon Action Plan
08.03.2022
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Sustainability Chats 🌱
06.09.2022
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What You Should Know About Life Cycle Assessments
01.19.2022
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What You Should Know About Environmental Product Declarations
10.26.2021
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Embodied Carbon 101 — Key Takeaways
10.08.2021
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What You Should Know About Carbon Sequestration
10.01.2021

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