Structural design goes green

Structural design goes green

Trimble and One Click LCA have collaborated so that users of Trimble's Tekla software for structural design and BIM can now easily make carbon-impact calculations. The move provides structural designers with the means to make a massive dent in global emissions.

In 2020 the United Nations published a global status report on the carbon impact of buildings and the construction industry. The report found that emissions from the operation of buildings accounted for 28% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Add in emissions from constructing buildings, and the figure rises to 38%. Bridges and other infrastructure also make a massive contribution to emissions.

“The construction industry has a huge climate impact, so governments around the world are now putting frameworks in place that require engineers to make life-cycle carbon calculations for their construction projects,” says Trimble Business Development Manager, Tove Lindblad.
Against this background, Trimble has collaborated with One Click LCA – the world’s leading provider of life-cycle assessment (LCA) software for the construction industry – to integrate the company’s carbon and LCA platform with Tekla products. Users of Tekla Structures, Tekla Structural Designer and Trimble Connect now have access to One Click LCA’s extensive Environmental Product Declarations database so they can calculate emissions at different project phases.

Reducing lifetime carbon impact

Structural elements are responsible for up to 70 percent of a building’s embodied carbon footprint. This makes cutting the carbon emissions of any structural design critical in the Race To Zero – an initiative to come to zero emissions – as outlined in the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference goals.
“Almost all global population growth is going to come from cities, so total building stock will approximately double within the next 40 years,” says Panu Pasanen, CEO and Founder of One Click LCA. “This will create unprecedented demand for construction materials, and will release carbon emissions equivalent to six years of global energy-related carbon emissions.”
“These are only the emissions from constructing buildings – the picture is of course even more serious when factoring in the operation of buildings too,” he continues. “One square meter of a building adds a life-cycle carbon impact of one to five tonnes, depending on energy use and energy mix, so building designers can make a massive impact on reducing global emissions by considering carbon at every stage of a project. This is exactly what our software enables.”

Thousands of local suppliers

As with Tekla products, One Click LCA’s software is cloud-based and can connect with any source of BIM or lifecycle-assessment data. The software can be used with green-building standards from anywhere in the world.
The heart of the One Click LCA software is a database of country-specific certified values showing the carbon impact of materials from thousands of local suppliers across the globe. The markets with the most advanced green-building standards – namely Europe and North America – have more than 35,000 data points each, with LCA adding a few hundred more points to the software every week. 

The most common material in One Click LCA’s database is concrete, followed by different types of insulation. When suppliers have had the carbon impact of their materials third-party verified, this is clearly indicated in the tool.
“Thanks to our collaboration with Trimble, structural designers and engineers using Tekla software can now easily see the carbon impact of their material choices at different stages of construction and across all parts of a building,” says Pasanen. “Structural engineering plays a very important role in determining a building’s life-cycle carbon impact,” he says. “To put this into perspective, when an engineer designs just one 5,000 square-meter building, the emissions impact of the materials needs to be cut by only 0.5% in order to offset a family’s average emissions for a whole year. The potential impact is huge.”

Sweco pilots the software

The work to integrate One Click LCA with Tekla products was completed in June 2021. Since then, European architecture and engineering consultancy Sweco has been piloting the integrated software in the construction of a lifetime carbon-neutral sports hall in Finland. The company has been using the software to calculate the carbon impact of different material options for the stadium’s load-bearing structures.

Sweco structural designer Ossi Kujala explains how the Tekla and Once Click LCA integration has made the process easier and more accurate: “Previously we would calculate a building’s carbon footprint by doing manual quantity estimations from drawings or from building-information models, and then transferring these numbers to One Click LCA’s life-cycle calculation software. But in this way it takes time to calculate quantities with accuracy, and you must be careful there are no calculation errors when you make design changes,” says Kujala.

“The integration of Tekla and One Click LCA has automated this process,” he says. “Model parts are properly mapped in One Click LCA, so if your BIM information is properly modeled too then the data transfer function works extremely well. Thanks to the integration you can now easily create diagrams with numerical values to compare the lifecycle carbon footprints of different design options. You can also add building elements manually to One Click LCA after you have imported the Tekla model.”

Greener structures for tomorrow

Trimble Business Development Manager Tove Lindblad sums up the impact of the integration between Tekla and One Click LCA: “Reducing carbon emissions has never been more important than it is today. Now we are putting a tool in our clients’ hands that allows them to do so. Instead of only being proud of the highest building or the longest bridge, we should also be aiming to build the leanest and most sustainable structures we can. This is meaningful not only for our children's generation, but for every generation to come.”

 structural design

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  • Last modified by the author on 30/03/2022 - 10:27

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