Why this topic? Though structural engineering has always been primarily concerned with creating resilient structures, designers, builders, manufacturers, and societies world wide are reexamining the definition of resilience and engineering has to actively claim a place in the discussion. I believe that engineering has become separated from the current discussions surrounding sustainable and resilient design. Finally, I want to discuss the emergence of environmental and social equity as driving forces, powered by globalization, in the design of the built environment.
But first a little history…. Historically a builder/architect/engineer oversaw everything. He was the Master Builder, overseeing master carpenters, bricklayers, etc. As society become more complex the building design and construction industry followed suite and the Master Builder became rare. Some architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, tried to emulate that role but building engineering and the complexity of systems has outstripped a single person’s capacity to see everything. Project management and stringent design codes and guides have helped but design has become compartmentalized. BIM, Virtual Design ad Construction (VDC), and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) offer the possibility to bring the disparate parts back together. The computer may well be the new Master Builder but the transparency of the technology demands greater collaboration.
Similarly what a building does has evolved
the great cathedrals definitely responded to their environment; cold weather meant a cold worship experience. Buildings are increasingly more complicated, without necessarily becoming more complex. Complexity vs Complication
Some philosophical background:
Environmentalism has a very long history.
As early a 676 the Irish monk Cuthbert enacted legislation to protect birds on the Fame Islands Izaac Walton wrote his Book The Compleat Angler in 1640, Benjamin Franklin petitioned the Pennsylvania Assembly to to remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district in 1739. In 1820 the planet marked its first billion human inhabitants.
We started thinking about things differently.
Limits to growth, (Carl Sprengel, 1828) Forest Ecology, (Thoureau, 1860 address, The Succession of Forest Trees ) Acid rain, Robert Angus Smith, 1872, Air and Rain)
By 1960, the world human population reached 3 billion and it was clear that humans had a measurable impact on the global environment. The difference was that now we could watch the debate in the media.
Rachel Carson defended her book Silent Spring, from aggressive chemical industry attacks. (1963, CBS Reports, The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson) I remember seeing photos and reports of the effects of Acid rain from the forests of Vermont to Germany’s Black Forest in the early 1980’s
From the 1960’s onward, as the global community became increasingly aware of our ability to shape the environment, designers began serious explorations in nature based design.
Buckminster Fuller describes the need to design with nature, not in opposition to nature as “comprehensive anticipatory design science”.
Biomimicry ( http://biomimicry.net ) is an emerging science that consciously designs with nature. Janine Benyus, Biomimicry, Innovation Inspired by Nature, Harper Perennial, 1997 3.8 billion years of design experience that should be studied rather than exploited “Biomimicry is the conscious emulation of life’s genius”
Natural Capital ( http://www.natcap.org/ ) by Paul Hawken and Amory Hunter and L. Hunter Lovins, Little Brown, 1993 Refers to the Earth’s resources and the systems that provide life-support services Asks to radically increase resource productivity Shift to biologically inspired production models and materials Move to a service and flow business model Reinvest in Natural Capital (restorative design)
McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press, 2002. McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) helps businesses and industries do better by doing good, Cradle to cradle, rather than a cradle to grave approach Much of their work employs biomimetic strategies Birth of Green Chemistry
Biophilic Design is design based on the idea of mankind's innate connection to nature. It’s the recognition that something about a crackling fire or a roaring waterfall is embedded in our nature and as such has the capability to provide wellbeing when applied to our built environment. For example, healing gardens in hospital settings, a breath of fresh air on the roof top garden at noon, or a water feature at the mall have been shown to reduce the length of hospital stays, increase productivity, and enhance positive social interactions.
Browning et al “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” Terrapin Bright Green, New York, 2014
Structural Engineering has always been about resilience and about creating the basis for a stable society. From Imhotep, the first structural engineer known by name, to our current, highly specialized engineering, engineers have been keeping buildings and products working throughout recorded history.
Structural Engineers have always been systems thinkers. Whether calculating internal and external loads acting upon a structural system, providing support for a curtainwall, or seismic proofing the lighting in an operating theater, engineers have to know how everything fits together.
However, the emerging definition of resilience falls outside of that traditional, supporting role and include things like: Social and environmental justice restoring the ecosystem providing access to experiences in nature removing toxins from building materials and manufacturing processes creating supply chains that offer protection from disruption Overall health and wellness of society
These are just a few of the additional systems based considerations that will be required as we go about creating a society that can absorb, survive, and recover from environmental and environmentally related economic shocks. As we move into the era of peak fossil fuels and rising sea levels, bomb blasts may be one of the easier things to design for. It is commonly understood amongst sustainable and resilient design practitioners that we need to move from doing better to doing good.
Design processes and technology are changing and adapting to this emerging body of concerns. BIM/VDC Integrated Project (or Product) Delivery (IPD) Interoperable software and the standardization of programming language
These technology and process changes are making the analysis of the built environment more robust, faster, and responsive to changing needs. Engineers, along with everyone else, have access to a global pool of data that is at times overwhelming and it is important to understand the need for all this additional work.
In the slide I use the term fit in specifically because the simple response to climate change resilience is a sort of traditional survival of the fittest response that calls for a hardening of our infrastructure and focuses on survivability. I believe that Darwin has been misinterpreted and that survival of the fittest really implies the survival of those who best fit into any environment. As business firms we fit in best when we react to global concerns with global responses that simultaneously address our local reality. Structural engineering's basic tools, concrete, steel, masonry, and wood are clear contributors to the problems, as well as possible solutions, both environmentally and economically. For example, cement has one of the highest environmental footprints of any structural material but is also subject to a lot of research such as cement made from slag, alternative fuel for processing cement, and carbon sequestration within cement. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities to assume that someday cement production and therefor concrete use may have what the Living Future Institute calls a “Positive Handprint” Our decisions concerning materials have wide reaching repercussions for various negative environmental toxins, species decline and global economic pressures. This months Sustainability E-News , Published by the Masonry Society, presented the newly released Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Slag Cement so now we can more easily determine the potential for smog creation, global warming, and ozone harm when we use slag cement, as well as waste creation, amount of recovered material used, and whether we’ve displaced fossil fuel use with renewables; all necessary calculations for both LEED and the Living Building Challenge We are faced with more stringent codes and ever more challenging building standards Historical weather data simply doesn’t do the job anymore for design loads The informational and governmental transparency provided by the internet means that questionable projects receive increased scrutiny. Consider the Keystone Pipeline or Polymet Mine project and all the press they are getting. Increasing social pressures such as population growth and environmental justice issues demand that we consider much more than simply ensuring a building will be standing after a tornado. Can the building be occupied, let alone used as intended, during a 6 day power outage when it’s 95 degrees. Do you need passive backup systems and what does that mean for structural system choices? Peak oil and the transition to a renewable energy economy require a rethinking of basic building systems and how those systems respond to the larger ecosystem.
In short, it’s a mess out there and we need to respond.
What are engineers doing in BIM and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)? What is the structural engineering response to sustainable design guides such as LEED and Living Building Challenge? What research are you involved in or using to improve the environmental footprint of structural materials? Where are you getting your weather data? Where do you get LVLs without formaldehyde? Etc., Etc.
An Increasingly Complicated World
"St Cuthbert" by Weglinde - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-
SA 3.0 via Commons
"Henry David Thoreau - Dunshee ambrotpe 1861" by Edward Sidney "Rachel-Carson" by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Licensed under Public
Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rachel-
A Changing Environment
Buckminster Fuller’s Montreal Biosphere (photo by Martin Ujlaki)
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture Building in Qatar, (photo by Karen Sprey)
What is Resilient Design?
1. the ability to recover readily after
2. the capacity of a building, landscape,
community, and region to continue
functionality under extreme conditions,
such as (but not limited to) extreme
temperatures, sea level rise, natural
3. The ability to move from one steady state
to another steady state.