Low-Carbon Concrete & Steel Structures

The carbon emissions associated with the production of concrete and steel are significant contributors to the climate crisis, but these materials will remain over the next decade when much of the greatest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must be made to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Structural engineers can directly influence the emissions related to these materials on their projects through design and procurement optimization and best-practices. Often, however, the most effective solutions to reduce the carbon “embodied” in these products are not always obvious.   
This session provides an overview of the origins of embodied carbon associated with the production of concrete and steel. Drawing on lessons-learned from practice and a year-long research-and-development study, Thornton Tomasetti has compiled actionable steps that industry professionals can take to make significant embodied carbon reductions in typical concrete- and steel-framed building projects. The presenters will review the manufacturing processes and typical energy use profiles of concrete and steel products, and provide examples of how to use that knowledge to reduce embodied carbon of these materials. At the end of the session, participants will be able to return to work with the knowledge to make embodied carbon reduction in concrete and steel scalable.

Session Chair(s): 

Event Time: 

Friday, May 7, 2021 - 9:30am to 11:00am

CEU Information: 

Conference-day attendance credits available from PHIUS, RESNET, and Mass. CSL

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the significance of the concrete and steel supply chains and understand who, when, and how different project stakeholders can contribute to low embodied carbon design
  • Understand the full environmental impacts of concrete and steel throughout the manufacturing processes from both energy sources and material sources, and what key leverage points can be pressed to reduce it
  • Identify best practices and available tools for embodied carbon analysis
  • Recognize the opportunity in making small but high impact design changes in reducing embodied carbon

Session ID: