Working Groups

Most of our members serve on at least one working group. The groups were formed to focus our efforts and give a framework within which useful deliverables are produced.
 
 

Carbon

The purpose of the Carbon Working Group (CWG) is to study the carbon impacts of structural materials and systems and to make recommendations for reducing the carbon footprint of the structural system. The CWG has recently produced a white paper intended primarily for practicing structural engineers that addresses the following topics. Download it here.
  1. Explain the importance of carbon and the meaning of carbon equivalents.
  2. Describe how, and during which parts of the lifecycle, carbon is embodied in the various primary structural materials (steel, concrete, wood, masonry).
  3. Discuss how the engineer can impact the carbon footprint of the structural system and building.
  4. Provide examples of carbon calculations comparing baseline cases and improved cases.

Green Codes

The purpose of the Green Codes Working Group (GCWG) is to connect the structural design community with the myriad of green codes, standards, and rating systems that may impact their clients and work product. To accomplish this goal, the GCWG will:
  1. Provide information on green codes and standards related to green codes, and how their adoption may affect structural engineers in their practice and the specification of products and systems. Instruments monitored include LEED, CalGreen, GreenGlobes, and ASHRAE.
  2. Monitor the announcements from codes, standards, and rating-system developers, providing timely information on opportunities to submit public comments and cast ballots.
  3. Pursue opportunities to provide comments to advocacy groups and standards development organizations on behalf of ASCE SEI structural engineer members.

Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method of measuring the total environmental impact of a product or process, from acquisition of raw materials to end-of-life. Application of LCA to buildings and infrastructure is rapidly progressing and has the potential to become an important design tool. Structural engineers are now expected to be an integral part of the ‘green design team’ and will need to be conversant in basic terminology and principles of LCA.
 The objectives of the LCA Working Group are:
  1. To provide information and resources to the structural engineering community on applications of LCA in building and infrastructure design. 
  2. To assemble a resource database compiling existing research articles and reports on the application of LCA to building materials, whole buildings and infrastructure.
  3. To make the database available to the structural engineering community through our website, and to allow for users to submit information for incorporation into the database.

Infrastructure

The Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) primarily addresses transportation structures including bridges and tunnels. IWG supports the development and use of rating systems, codes, and standards that encourage and quantify sustainability and green design/construction/maintenance.  The objectives of the Infrastructure Working Group are: 
  1. Advocate for the acceptance of green/sustainability project rating systems within the bridge and tunnel industries.
  2. Monitor, comment on, and engage with the various emerging green/sustainability project rating systems that apply to bridge and tunnel work, including: Greenroads, GreenLITES, and ASCE.
  3. Collect case study examples of sustainable infrastructure best practices that have been successfully implemented.

Thermal Bridging

Thermal bridging occurs when materials that are poor insulators are in contact which creates a path for heat flow. Heat loss due to thermal bridging is a real concern where conductive materials, including those used for structure, penetrate fully or in part, the envelope of a building. Steel is highly conductive and is therefore the focus of the Thermal Steel Bridging Task Committee (TSBTC), which is hosted by the SEI Sustainability Committee. The original Thermal Bridging Working Group (TBWG) is now focusing on thermal bridging issues that result from materials other than steel.  The purpose of the TBWG and the TSBTC is to define and quantify the problem of thermal bridging, identify solutions, and communicate findings to the building design and construction community. We have set the following goals:
  1. Review existing and current research on thermal steel bridging, particularly research that aims to define the magnitude of energy loss.
  2. Review what other countries are doing to address thermal bridging.
  3. Identify and contact manufacturers that provide products that can be used as thermal breaks.
  4. Review any code implications of integrating thermal break material into building details.
  5. Review energy codes to determine the code requirements, if any, that relate to thermal bridging.
  6. Review how various energy modeling software programs handle thermal steel bridging.
  7. Compile options for details, including details developed by practitioners.
  8. Identify opportunities for presentations, papers, and articles.
  9. Write and publish a document, in conjunction with AISC, about thermal steel bridging.

Disaster Resilience

A sustainably-built environment is not obtained just by using greener building materials or improving energy efficiency.  It also requires facilities to remain useful through disasters, environmental attack, and changes in the occupants and uses of a structure.  The group has recently written a comprehensive white paper linking disaster resilience and sustainability. Download here.

The goals of the Disaster Resilience Working Group are to:

  1. Promote awareness of the importance to sustainability of disaster resilience.
  2. Provide guidance that structural engineers can use to design disaster resilient structures.
  3. Actively coordinate with and support efforts of other groups working in similar areas.

Committee Website

Our website working group (WWG) is committed to building a "go to" site for the structural engineering community to learn about more sustainable structural strategies and materials.  Additionally, our site is intended to serve the larger design community by answering the question "what does structure have to do with sustainability?".  To accomplish this our WWG is developing our site in two phases:
  1. Version 1: Launch Sustainability Committee's website to provide information on committee goals and activities, links to our publications, basic resources/links and brief member profiles. 
  2. Version 2: Develop shareable valuable resources through working group deliverables, annotated links to affiliates and other useful sites, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration through sharing resources.