Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 Key Stakeholders Meet to Launch
 Life Cycle Assessment Research Project

January 9, 2013

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CHICAGO - The Structural Engineering Peer Review Panel for the ArcelorMittal funded A Whole Life Cycle Assessment of the Sustainable Aspects of Structural Systems in Tall Buildings” research project met in Chicago for the first time to discuss the project in detail and agree to a framework for the research.

Introduction and Objectives

Dr. Antony Wood, CTBUH Executive Director, chaired the meeting, along with the team from ArcelorMittal, which is sponsoring the project. The research, conducted as an independent study, will investigate the true sustainability aspects of structural systems. The aim is to develop a methodology for the assessment of life cycle energy used in tall building structural systems. The project will provide an essential starting point for both policy and design discussions. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach should provide for a more quantitative evaluation process for future construction.

Structural Engineering Peer Review Panel

Life Cycle Assessment Approach

The panel, comprised of executives from top engineering and design firms (see attendance list at end), discussed the advantages and disadvantages of performing the research on a real or hypothetical case study. It was concluded that a real case study would be conducted to provide accurate and timely information. The panel also discussed all LCA stages, which led to interesting inquiries regarding LCA including: What is the life of a tall building? Should we consider it to be 100 years, 200 years, or forever? What about refurbishment and reuse of the building? The panel agreed that the life of the building and stages after the initial functional period should be considered. End of life stages such as demolition, reuse, use flexibility, and adaptability are important to include in such an analysis, even if there is no reason to take down a tall building.

Variables to Consider in LCA Approach

The advisory panel also discussed the scope, core issues, case studies and key success factors of the research project. Popular structural systems in tall buildings and previous LCA studies were reviewed in order to come up with an improved approach. The aim of the research is to compare structural systems and that “as usual” designs are to be taken into consideration, ArcelorMittal representatives said. Geography, function, height and material of the tall buildings were chosen by the panel as essential variables. Location is important to consider as conditions in Chicago may differ from those a building faces in high seismic zones like San Francisco. Function of a building, whether it is an office building or residential building, is part of the evaluation of what material is used for the structural systems in order to gauge the effect of the materials on the life of the building and the environment.

Structural Engineering Peer Review Panel. Left to Right: Levon H. Nishkian, Peyman Askarinejad, Donald Davies, Chukwuma Ekwueme, Payam Bahrami, John Viise, Christopher D. Rockey, Tim Santi, Antony Wood, Jean-Claude Gerardy, Edward Depaola, Olivier Vassart, Declan Monaghan, Ben Johnson, Mark Aho, Rob Caroti, Shelley Finnigan, Joseph Burns, Nabih Youssef, Allen Thompson
Roles of the Structural Advisory Panel

Dr. Wood explained the role of the advisory panel, which should provide guidance and direction to the research team in order to accomplish the objectives. They will also be assisting with the choice of case studies and obtaining the required data and information for these projects. In addition, the panel will support the structural engineering design of alternative solutions for the case studies. The findings will be peer reviewed and recommendations will be made on reports, publications and deliverables. Lastly, the advisory panel will promote the findings to the international community.

Considerations for Research Phase

It was decided that the initial case studies for the research will be tall buildings in Chicago that represent typical characteristics of buildings around the world. Phase I will include one office building and one residential building. Height will be considered at two different levels and an end of life stage will be included in the study. Other factors, such as seismic geography and iconic shape of buildings, will be considered in Phase II. The panel seeks to form a wider international peer review panel including experts in other related areas in order to increase the accuracy of the findings.
Delegates Attending the Workshop

Attendees: Antony Wood (Chair)

Payam Bahrami CTBUH

Jean-Claude Gerardy ArcelorMittal

Olivier Vassart ArcelorMittal

Rob Caroti ArcelorMittal

Shelley Finnigan ArcelorMittal

Paul Endres Endres Studio

Peyman Askarinejad Arabtec

Declan Monaghan Arup

Matthew Herman Buro Happold

John Viise Halvorson and Partners

Mark Aho McNamara/Salvia

Donald Davies MKA

Nabih Youssef Nabih Youssef & Associates

Levon H. Nishkian Nishkian Menninger

Christopher D. Rockey Rockey Structures

Edward Depaola Severud Associates

Ben Johnson SOM

Joseph Burns Thornton Tomasetti

Tim Santi Walter P Moore

Chukwuma Ekwueme Weidlinger Associates

Allen Thompson WSP Cantor Seinuk