Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sustainable Design Committee Project Ideas

Sustainable Design Committee Members,

We are in the process right now of developing a work plan for next year and would like to solicit any ideas that you have for projects.  For next year we would like to start including a few projects in our work.  Below you can find a list of ideas that we came up with at our last meeting.  Committee projects work best if the people working on them want to work on them, so we would love to hear your ideas and add them to the list.  We will be compiling the ideas and going through them at our January meeting and asking for volunteers and leaders to tackle some of this work.

1.       Concrete Taskforce follow through:  Complete and disseminate research on typical concrete mixes using supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) and other cement-reducing techniques. Expect to produce one or more articles for Equilibrium.
2.       Wood/Timber Research: There are several potential topics to be investigated/researched with regards to wood and timber construction. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
a.       Overall sustainability of wood products (examine industry claims of carbon neutral or carbon negative).
b.      How to build with wood for a longer design life.
c.       The efforts needed and benefits of using reclaimed wood products.
d.      Using CLTs or heavy timber framing as alternatives to steel/concrete structures (update for recent fire rating tests).
3.       Disaster Resilience:  Prepare 2-3 articles on disaster resilience for SEAW newsletter.  Potentially follow up with presentation.  Articles to use the 3 pillars of sustainability to justify (Economics, Environment, Social).  Preliminary basis for articles as follows:
a.       Planning for survival:  Coordinate with ACT organizations.  Focus is on what you and your family should have available in your home, office, school etc. and the appropriate behaviors and actions to follow after a disaster.  Primarily affects social pillar.
b.      Getting back to normal:  Focus is on what roles structural engineers can take to help bring society back to normal and how to plan for the activities that will be required.  Includes information on business planning to keep your business operating (economics) and on rapid evaluation procedures for buildings (social).
c.       Minimizing the impact:  Investigates how SE’s can impact the sustainability of the built environment right now, before a disaster arrives.  Showcase tools for evaluating resilience/estimating loss (ATC work and PACT software, Hazuz, etc).  Affects economic pillar immediately with delayed impact to social and environmental pillars.
4.        Foreign Building Projects:  Build a case study of innovative, green structural solutions developed for construction of volunteer projects abroad with the goals of encouraging creativity, reducing environmental impacts in our own practice, and encouraging outreach to societies in need.
5.       European design practices and standards:  Research green building practices in Europe.  Where certain areas of practice are more developed than in the US. Compare European practices and standards to the US’s and summarize changes to US practice that would be reasonable given any differences.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Local ASCE Meeting Presents Envision Rating System

For those of you who work on infrastructure projects, the Seattle and Tacoma-Olympia chapters of ASCE are hosting a speaker who will talk about the Envision rating system and it's use on a recent project.
Seattle Section December Meeting - Joint Meeting with the Tacoma-Olympia Section and the Sustainability Committee:
When: Wednesday, December 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Embassy Suites Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 15920 W Valley Hwy, Seattle, WA 98188
Cost: General Admission $40
Student or Unemployed $15
Late General Admission $45
Late Student or Unemployed $20
Program: The New Envision Rating System for Infrastructure Sustainability, with a Case Study of the 18th Avenue Street Improvement Project in Olympia
(Speaker: Fran Eide, P.E., City Engineer, City of Olympia)
Please make reservations by 5:30 p.m., Monday, December 10.
Register online at
The American Society of Civil Engineers worked jointly with the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Public Works Association to develop the Envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System, launched in January 2012. Read about Envision. Administering the rating system is the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.