think tank engineering                            SBE0012


Written evidence from think tank engineering


the Structural Efficiency Classification System by think tank engineering


80% of the embodied carbon in buildings comes from their structural system, responsible for about 50% of all the raw materials extracted from earth worldwide, and about 5% of the global carbon footprint.

Embodied carbon is calculated as:

Embodied Carbon = MaterialQuantity x UnitCarbon

However, all current methods to measure or control the embodied carbon focus on either the final result (e.g. carbon benchmarking like the one by the IStructE) or on the reduction of the unit carbon through the use of “green materials” (e.g. cement replacement for concretes). But no one has looked at the amount of material being used, despite this is the only factor impacting both the carbon emissions and the consumption of raw materials, because there was no absolute metric able to assess it objectively, BUT:

We have demonstrated that building structures are using 25 times more material than the minimum theoretically required, in other words their structural efficiency is 4%.

Until now, it was impossible to compare building structures to their absolute optimum, thus our lack of understanding of how structural materials were being used.

The application of our measurement methodology - the Structural Efficiency Classification System, or S.E.C.S. for short - shall bring a better understanding of how construction systems and building designs are implementing the structural materials, towards reducing their use over time.

The S.E.C.S. will work like Energy Efficiency, which helped catalyse massive savings through the measurement and understanding of the resources’ usage. Following the parallelism, we expect building structures to reduce their material usage by 90% within 20 years, like light bulbs did by moving from incandescent to LED.

And we are sure about this, because we have developed:

        optimised versions of current structural typologies able to save over 80% of the material, and

        an “exemplary system” needing less than a 10% materials compared to current typical solutions.

The theoretical development of our research has been reviewed and published by Elsevier & IStructE:

Our theoretical development has been reviewed by many UK & European Universities, and the initiative has received the support of key players from the industry and attracted the attention from many others:

        Universities that have reviewed:
Sheffield, Cambridge, Bath, Warsaw, Madrid, Valencia, Eindhoven, Berlin, Colorado

        Our supporters include: 2no. world’s top 20 contractors, 1no. world’s top-3 Green Building Rating Systems, 2no. world’s top-10 Engineering consultants. Also Architectural Firms and Public Institutions.

        Following the project: IStructE, RIBA, Construction Innovation Hub, Lendlease, British Land, Arup.

May 2021