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IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints

IASS Symposium 2014

SESSION: Environmentally Compatible Structures

Comparing material quantities and embodied carbon in stadia

< Table of Contents for Environmentally Compatible Structures
  • Proceedings Name: IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 2518-6582
  • Session: Environmentally Compatible Structures
  • Title: Comparing material quantities and embodied carbon in stadia
  • Author(s): Catherine DE WOLF, Julia HOGROIAN, John OCHSENDORF
  • Keywords: Embodied carbon, stadium, material quantities, structures, global warming potential
Life cycle energy in buildings includes both operational energy (for heating, cooling, hot water, ventilation, lighting) and embodied energy (for material extraction, processing, transport, assembly and disassembly). While many recent design innovations have worked to lower the operational energy of buildings, new interest has grown in the embodied energy and carbon in building structures. This paper addresses the embodied carbon of athletic stadia in particular, where 'carbon' refers to the corresponding lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, measured as the Global Warming Potential (GWP) in weight of CO2 equivalent per functional unit. Green building rating schemes such as LEED and BREEAM are incorporating accreditation for buildings with lower life cycle impacts compared to a baseline building structure. However, this reference structure is yet to be defined for embodied energy. Indeed, a unified method is lacking for calculating the environmental impact of building structures. Various assumptions and boundary conditions complicate the comparison of embodied carbon in structures: seismic and climate zones, building codes, recycled material contents and life cycle boundaries are only a few aspects that influence the environmental impact of a project. Though many design firms have developed in-house tools to estimate the embodied carbon of their projects, practitioners still need typical values for benchmarking. For these reasons, this paper proposes to evaluate the methods for estimating embodied carbon in long span structures.This paper compares the embodied carbon of ten recent sports stadia to each other. Two key variables are analyzed: the material quantities (kg of material per functional unit) and the embodied carbon coefficients (kg of CO2 equivalent per kg of material). The outcome will give greater confidence in the numbers of the GWP in stadia, while taking the different boundary conditions into account. The paper develops an integrated assessment approach for estimating the embodied carbon of stadia. By critically reviewing existing efforts in literature and interviewing leading design firms, this research aims to build accurate knowledge on the environmental impact of building structures. This paper develops benchmarks, identifies approaches to overcome the challenges in estimating the footprint of stadia and explores opportunities for low embodied carbon design of such structures. The results demonstrate a wide range of embodied carbon values in sports stadia, demonstrating that the design team can make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through efficient structural design.

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