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Structural Engineers and Climate Change

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Anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, are causing dramatic changes to the earth’s climate and oceans. These changes are described in detail in the authoritative and comprehensive reports written by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Through building construction and building use, the construction industry contributes nearly 40% of total U.S. anthropogenic carbon emissions to the environment. As new building operational systems become increasingly energy efficient, the relative contribution of embodied carbon impacts to the overall carbon equation, including structural framing, becomes increasingly important. A new technical report by the ASCE SEI Sustainability Committee, Structural Materials and Global Climate: A Primer on Carbon Emissions for Structural Engineers, noted how structural engineers could play a key role in reducing total construction industry emissions through informed design and efficient structures. The article from Structure Magazine summarizes the report.

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