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How Can Structural Engineers Build in a More Sustainable Way?

Waste is a common problem among many different industries worldwide, and the construction industry is one of the leaders in producing waste. However, with society becoming more aware and conscious of the materials they are using and how to properly dispose of them, structural engineering companies are also doing the same. This involves altering practices and procedures, disposing of waste differently, eliminating harmful compounds when using building materials and more. All of these combine to make more sustainable buildings and protect our planet as well. Here’s how structural engineering companies are building more sustainably today.

Incorporate Zero Waste Practices

Zero waste practices mean using products and materials that can be reused instead of discarded when they are no longer needed. A common example of this is when a structural engineer designs a building by using bolts for connections rather than welds. The bolts can be reused when the building gets remodeled or demolished, but anything welded will simply have to go to the landfill in most cases.

Eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds

Breathing in volatile organic compounds can be dangerous when ingested in large amounts. Building materials have traditionally contained these volatile organic compounds, but structural engineering companies are now being more conscious about the products and materials they use to ensure they don’t include them. Not only are these materials better for the environment, they also protect the construction workers who come in close contact with them.

Compost Waste Instead of Dumping in The Landfill

It’s easy for a structural engineer to say they’ll throw any waste in the landfill. However, many structural engineering companies today are composting some of their organic waste on the actual construction site when possible. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfills and also eliminates having to pollute the air with trucks driving to and from the landfills.

A Conscious Effort Will Go A Long Way

Being conscious of reducing waste and building in a more sustainable way will pay dividends for our environment in the future. The job of a structural engineer is to ensure a new project or a renovation project is designed in a safe manner, and also in a sustainable manner. Of course, it’s not always possible to apply all of these practices in every single construction product, but simply having sustainability in the back of the mind is a positive step forward for the environment.

BE Structural uses sustainable practices whenever possible. As a structural engineering company, it’s our job to ensure every building is designed and constructed safely. However, we are also very conscious of the environment we live in and the safety of the air we breathe. Quality does not have to be sacrificed when incorporating sustainable practices, so contact us today to see how we include these practices every day.

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See to Believe These Captivating Structures Opening This Year

Available resources combined with technological advancements in structural engineering have led to some of the most amazing structures ever built in recent years. Whether it’s museums, sports venues, bridges or anything else, there’s never a shortage of structures that will take your breath away when you first see them. Here are some of the most captivating structures that have opened in 2018 or will be opening in the very near future.

Royal Academy of Arts Bridge

The Royal Academy of Arts Bridge in London links together the Burlington Gardens with the Burlington House. There are many complexities with this project from a structural engineering perspective, as it serves a major functional purpose and is also considered to be the most visible part of the entire redevelopment project.

Cosmos Arena

Cosmos Arena was showcased during the 2018 World Cup. It was built in Samara and seats nearly 45,000 fans. By many accounts, Cosmos Arena was one of the most captivating venues for the entire World Cup. The structural engineering components involved a roof of more than two dozen panels that light up at night to signify the connection to the space industry Samara has.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Any structural engineer will be in awe over the Grand Egyptian Museum. It is built near the pyramids and is clearly distinguishable by its triangle shape, translucent wall made of stone and enormous size. In fact, it is now known as one of the largest archaeological museums worldwide and features dozens of large statues and tons of ancient history for visitors to enjoy.

National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar is a unique museum that incorporates many different structural engineering components. The building is more than 400,000 square feet and uses construction materials designed to keep visitors out of the desert heat. The museum amazingly rises from the sea and includes both a pedestrian bridge and a bridge for vehicles connecting to it.

Olmsted Locks and Dam

The Olmsted Locks and Dam has been under construction for nearly 30 years due to funding and construction delays. The project is finally nearing its completion and will eventually be the largest and most costly inland waterway project in the history of the United States. The current locks and dams are often congested and are older, so this new project aims to resolve both issues.

BE Structural is not only amazed at the captivating structures that pop up every year, but we also help design some of them. The role of a structural engineering company spans widely with large structures like these, and we are proud to have been a part of many projects like them over the years. Be sure to contact us to see what we’ve been involved in and how we can help you with your commercial or residential project.

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Will Building with Timber Ever Become the Norm?

A structural engineer is tasked with researching and analyzing the different materials that can be used to design and construct any given building. Some areas may need a steel or concrete building due to its climate or significant weather events, while others may be suitable for timber materials. There’s no doubting the possibility of using timber for nearly every project. However, the question many structural engineering experts have is whether building with timber will become the norm across the industry. Here’s a deeper look at this possibility.

Location Is A Major Factor

Since wood is weaker than steel or concrete, the location of a wood building is a critical component to think about. The reality is wood can be used in any location, but at what cost? Larger and thicker materials will need to be used in areas that experience significant weather events, which will increase the cost of the building and also potentially reduce the amount of living or working space due to the size of the materials. So in most of these situations, building with wood can be less economical in many ways.

Problems With Using Timber in Construction

In addition to the potential higher cost of using timber, structural engineering professionals also bring to light other possible problems. Shrinkage, creep, elastic deformation and similar issues all play a role in why a structural engineer may opt against using timber. The good news is most of the possible problems with using timber can be alleviated by combining other stronger materials with it, especially when you’re building taller structures.

Timber Combined With Other Materials is More Effective

Many structural engineering experts will suggest a hybrid construction for certain projects. Using steel or concrete for the structural aspects, and incorporating wood for columns and other aesthetic purposes, are typically the most effective strategies from structural and cost-effective standpoints. Every construction project is different, so each structural engineering company has to look at the unique aspects of the project to determine the sustainability of the materials used. Hybrid designs are quickly becoming the norm, so the likelihood of complete timber designs becoming standard is very low.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals dedicated to designing and constructing the most sustainable buildings for both commercial and residential purposes. Our structural engineering company provides services extending from the design and construction of a new project, to building renovations and even forensic analysis. We are experts in everything dealing with structural engineering, so contact us at any time and we would be proud to serve you.

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How the Structural Engineering Industry is Changing with Technology

Technology impacts every industry in many different ways. As technological advancements continue to develop, structural engineering professionals always have to stay informed to ensure they are using the best practices. Whether it’s by incorporating more energy efficient materials or boosting productivity and efficient processes in the construction process, technology is typically beneficial for a structural engineer. Here are some of the main technological advancements used in structural engineering today.

The Use of Drones in Construction

Drones are used by structural engineering professionals to take aerial photos of a construction site, monitor activities and survey areas where accessibility is limited. The photos taken by drones have high resolution and can be used to take measurements, create digital models and much more. Plus, the use of drones is much safer for a structural engineer when it comes to surveying tall areas like roofs or bridges.

3D Printing

3D printing has significantly developed over the last several years. And in the coming years, it is expected to become an even more valuable resource for structural engineering professionals. Using 3D printing allows experts to create more accurate design details, as well as more customization for projects. 3D printing is typically used most effectively for commercial properties or in large-scale residential complexes.

Data Analysis Tools

There is a lot of data collected by a structural engineer before, during and after any construction project. Analyzing this substantial amount of data is important, but sometimes isn’t possible due to the sheer quantity. Data analysis tools continue to develop today to help structural engineering experts analyze the data collected most effectively. The technology, software and cloud solutions available today help gather significant amounts of data quickly and make it easily accessible to all members of the construction team to promote efficiency, accuracy and more.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality tools are typically used at the beginning stages of the design process. One of the main uses for these tools is to visualize how a particular construction design will fit in any given area. This allows structural engineers to identify any potential errors or complications and can fix them before the project even begins.

Virtual reality technology includes scanners and drones to collect information. This technology is helpful not only in the design process, but also to allow project managers to constantly monitor the progress of the project without having to be physically present. Accuracy and efficiency are the two main benefits of virtual reality tools and are increasing in importance every day.

BE Structural stays on top of the latest technological trends to ensure the most valuable resources are being used at all times. Any structural engineering company that doesn’t adopt the latest technology leaves room for critical errors which could be prevented. By combining technology with our years of experience and substantial knowledge, we are your go-to resource for any construction or renovation project. Be sure to contact us to learn more about the technology we use today.

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What Materials are used in Sustainable Structural Engineering?

As people and companies become more conscious about energy consumption, perspectives in structural engineering are changing as well. It’s easy to upgrade appliances or install energy efficient equipment into new home designs, but those can get costly very quickly. The good news is there are sustainable materials used around the world today that are safe for the environment and can make very nice homes. Here are some of the materials a structural engineer will consider using when building a sustainable home.

Earth Bags

Earth bags are made of polypropylene material and are filled with soil and other inorganic materials. They are designed to hold up better than concrete or bricks, since the bags will not crack or be easily damaged during events like an earthquake. Earth bags are used prominently today in developing countries to build sustainable homes.

Earth Blocks

A structural engineering company will sometimes use earth blocks instead of bricks to create a more sustainable design. The earth blocks consist of a mix of clay, rubble and subsoil and are compressed at a very high pressure. In fact, earth blocks are actually stronger than concrete blocks or bricks, but only use a very small amount of cement. By using a small amount of cement, earth blocks are sustainable and reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

Retrofitting

Seismic retrofitting can be used to rebuild, repair or strengthen structures in general. After a structural engineer evaluates a building, they can perform actions such as repairing any damage, increasing shear wall density, strengthening ground conditions and more. Seismic retrofitting has helped strengthen thousands of buildings worldwide, especially in developing countries that experience earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Trombe Walls

Trombe walls are used in sustainable structural engineering to create more of a passive solar design in homes. The outside of the walls are made with plastic or glass panes, and the inside of the walls have a higher heat capacity. What makes these walls sustainable and energy efficient is the fact that the external wall will absorb the daytime heat and transfer the heat into the home when needed. Trombe walls are used effectively in areas where sunlight is present the majority of the time and people want to create a more sustainable and energy efficient design for their structure.

BE Structural is a team of experts with a wide range of experience. Our structural engineering company has worked with sustainable materials in different construction projects, and we always practice innovative thinking. It’s important to work with a qualified structural engineering professional if you’re considering using sustainable materials for your next construction project, so contact us to see how we can help you.

Structural engineering

The Importance of Structural Engineering When Designing a Passive Solar Home

A passive solar home is unique due to the fact that essentially every element of the home is used to collect energy and distribute it evenly throughout the home. This includes the floors, roof, walls and even the windows. The only way these passive solar homes can be effective is by the careful and thorough design by a structural engineer. Everything from the area you build the home at, the materials, the base structure and more all combine to make a passive solar home useful. Here are some things to consider about structural engineering and passive solar homes.

Factors To Consider For Passive Solar Homes

The sun doesn’t have to shine around the clock in order for passive solar homes to work, but these factors are essential:

  • Location on the land you’re building on. By building the home on the northern side of the lot, the southern end of the home will have the clearest possible view of the sun.
  • The structure itself. Your structural engineer will tediously design the windows and walls to ensure they are exposed to as much sunlight as possible. Some windows should allow sunlight in, while other surfaces on the structure should absorb the heat to store and use at a later time.
  • Design materials. The most common materials used in passive solar homes include brick, tile, stone and concrete. These are the best thermal mass materials since they absorb and store heat from both the inside and the outside to be used at the appropriate times of the year.

Challenges When Designing Passive Solar Homes

From a structural engineering perspective, the main challenges of designing a passive solar home include ensuring the home is air tight and is structurally stable. Most passive solar homes will have a larger ratio of windows on the southern side of the building, which means there will be fewer structural shear walls on that side. In order to prevent damage to the windows because of the stress placed on them, trimming beams are usually specially designed to give them additional strength.

Collaboration And Comprehensive Analysis is Essential

A structural engineer must work closely with the design team and any other contractors who are working on a passive solar home. Since there are so many different nuances and various components to these homes, every detail is critical. Every good structural engineering company can take the lead in ensuring the home is designed and constructed safely and will be as effective as possible.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that has experience in residential, commercial and even non-traditional structures like passive solar homes. Our team has many years of experience and knows exactly what to look for throughout the designing and constructing process of these homes. To learn more about how we can help make your passive solar home dreams a reality, contact us today.