Sunday, November 25, 2012

Upcoming November SEAW Sustainability Meeting

When: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:00 PM-1:00 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada).
Where: Degenkolb, 600 University Street (One Union Square), Suite 720, Seattle
Note: The GMT offset above does not reflect daylight saving time adjustments.

Hi Everybody,

I hope you had a nice break for Thanksgiving. This month's meeting is this Wednesday at Degenkolb. We will have general announcements and discussion of future topics and work projects.

There will be no meeting in December.

October Meeting Minutes

In October we had two presentations relating to life cycle assessment and measuring the environmental impacts (primarily CO2) of building structure and the alternative impacts due to seismic damage. Minutes from the committee meeting in October are here.

SEI Sustainability Committee Publishes White Paper on Carbon Footprint

The Sustainability Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute has published their white paper on the carbon footprint of various structural building products.  It is titled, Structure and Carbon: How Materials Affect the Climate. This is a great primer for structural engineers on the environmental impacts of the structures they design.  From their announcement:
The intent of this white paper is to serve as a primer on greenhouse gas emissions, the most important of which is carbon dioxide (informally referenced simply as “carbon”), for the structural engineering community and others with an interest in the carbon impacts of structural materials and systems. It explains:
  1. Why structural engineers must understand greenhouse gas emissions
  2. How the construction of building structural systems contributes to greenhouse gas emissions
  3. How we as a profession can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with structural systems.
The white paper is free to download from their Carbon Working Group webpage.  Kudos to Mark Webster, who spearheaded this project, and the rest of the members who helped author the paper.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cross-Laminated Timber Gets 2-hour Wall Rating

A press release from the American Wood Council reports that the results of successful fire tests allowed for CLT panels to be added to the 2015 IBC as an exterior 2-hour rated wall assembly for Heavy Timber (Type IV) buildings.  According to the adopted code language, the exterior side of the panel must be covered with gypsum board or fire retardant treated wood sheathing or a non-combustible material.  From the AWC:
Prior to the [IBC] hearings, as part of a project to produce a U.S. design manual for cross-laminated timber (CLT), AWC conducted a successful ASTM E119 fire endurance test on a CLT wall at NGC Testing Services in Buffalo, N.Y. The wall, a 5-ply CLT specimen (approximately 7 inches thick), was covered on each side with a single layer of 5/8" Type X gypsum wallboard. The wall was loaded to the maximum attainable by the test equipment, although it remained significantly below the full design strength of the CLT. It was then exposed to a standard fire that reached over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit in the first 90 minutes of exposure.

"While only seeking a 2-hour rating as required by building code provisions, the test specimen lasted 3 hours 6 minutes. This may also open up additional possibilities in a few specialized locations where a 3-hr fire resistance rating might be required," said AWC Vice President of Engineering Brad Douglas. 
Cross-Laminated Timber is a robust framing solution that has been developed in Europe for the past decade mainly because of its lower carbon footprint than comparable framing systems of steel and concrete.  The technology has recently expanded to North America and has gained some notoriety in British Columbia.

Monday, November 12, 2012

SEAW Sustainability Committee Update

Committee Members, 
There are a few things are going on this month that I want you to be aware of 

  • Owen Kohashi wrote a nice article on behalf of the committee in this month's Equilibrium newsletter about life cycle assessment moving into the state building code. See the article here. Thanks Owen! 
  • Our tour of Bertschi's Living Building Science Wing is tomorrow, November 13th at 3:30pm. KMD Architects will lead the tour. We have one or two spots open if you want to join. Please let me know. A big thanks to Jack Wiggins and Kyle Steuck for setting this up. 
  • Stay tuned for an announcement about a tour of the Gates Foundation, which we plan to offer in early December. 
  • We have a blog where we will try to post meeting announcements and articles of interest on a regular basis.  This will be used in place of our Yahoo discussion group. You can subscribe on the blog to get the posts by email.  
Minutes of the last meeting and agenda for our next meeting (Nov. 28) will be coming soon.  Have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Upcoming Webinar on Life Cycle Analysis for Highways

 From a LinkedIn post:

Free MIT webinar: Improving the sustainability of roadways through streamlined LCA

Please join us for our next Global Leaders in Environmental Assessment and Performance Sustainability Speaker Series webinar, taking place Friday, November 2nd from 10:00-11:00am ET. As part of our continuing series on streamlined life cycle analysis (LCA), our next speaker will be Jamie Meil, Managing Director of the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. Jamie will be discussing their Impact Estimator for Highways software, an innovative approach to calculating a highway's environmental impact that considers the materials, construction, and maintenance phases of the life cycle. The software includes a large materials database and can be used during the design phase to evaluate and compare potential designs in terms of their environmental impact.

Whether or not the sustainability of highways is in your bailiwick, this webinar will touch on a number of overarching issues within the field of life cycle analysis, such as developing a streamlined approach to LCA in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders, addressing issues around data collection and maintenance, and incorporating a complex and uncertain use phase into the life cycle. I hope you can join us!

Leaders in Environmental Assessment and Performance Sustainability Speaker Series
Webinar title: Streamlined LCA: Eco-Impact Estimator for Highways
Speaker: Jamie Meil, Managing Director of the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
Date: November 2, 2012
Time: 10:00 -11:00am ET
Please register beforehand at

Questions? Contact Suzanne Greene at
 My guess is you will be able to watch the presentation later when the LEAP Speaker Series page is updated.  Thanks for the tip, Amanda.