Category: <span>Sustainability</span>

Structural engineer

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.

Structural engineering company

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.

Facade engineering

Are Floating Cities Our Future?

The concept of a floating city has recently become more widely known and discussed. The president of the Seasteading Institute, Joe Quirk, has a plan in place to create floating cities and free them from the constraints created by world governments. With the popularity of underground homes rising, it makes sense that now is a good time to discuss the possibilities of floating cities being our future. Of course, there are plenty of challenges to uncover, but the concept of a floating city could be happening sooner rather than later.

Where Will The First Floating City Be?

A project is in the works for the first-ever floating city to be located off the shore of French Polynesia. Work is expected to begin sometime as early as 2018 and could be habitable by 2020. This city is planned to be large enough to house up to 300 people, and facade engineering experts are working through the challenges of how to create the safest homes possible for the people who choose to live on this floating city.

Involvement of Architects and Engineers

Architects and engineers have already visited the proposed location for the first floating city several times. The things taken into consideration at this point consist of how residents will receive power and clean water, what challenges there are when constructing a safe and secure building envelope, how the floating city could potentially expand and more. Of course, there are plenty other challenges and details to cover, but the ultimate responsibility of these professionals is ensuring all residents could live as safely as they could in a home on shore.

Floating Cities Could Create Floating Countries

Just like with underground homes, this first floating city isn’t expected to be the last. Once the viability of the city begins taking shape, we could expect to see numerous floating cities in the future. The big question is how many will we see, and how quickly will we see them? Joe Quirk has the ambition of having thousands of floating cities in the next 30+ years. The goal is very ambitious, but if the floating city off of the shore of French Polynesia sets the standard, then it won’t be out of the question.

BE Structural consists of a team dedicated to working together to better serve our clients. We are experts in facade engineering, structural engineering, structural inspections, home renovations and much more. We expect to be heavily involved in the concept of floating cities now and in the future, so don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

Facade engineering

Adding a Level to Existing Structures in Major Metro Areas

Any time you want to add a level to an existing structure, there are many different considerations to keep in mind. First off, if you live in a major metro area, you are likely very limited in space. You may also consider building underground due to the lack of space, but this may be impossible due to poor soil or other issues.

Finding the best facade engineering consultants can help make the process as seamless as possible. While adding a level may be difficult, there are very rare times where it is impossible. There may have to be a little give and take from the homeowner, since many variables go into the addition.

Getting Scale and Proportion Right

How you add a level to your home or building depends on the existing building envelope. A facade engineering consultant will do a survey of your home to determine how much room you have to build outward and upward. Many homeowners wish to keep the design and proportions of their home intact as much as possible, which could present challenges during the addition process. Adding on usually isn’t the problem, but finding the right scale and proportion is.

Finding Room to Expand

As mentioned, the major challenge of adding a level in metro areas is lack of space. This lack of space could lead to the need to remove walls and ceilings in order to properly expand. While it may not be ideal for the homeowner, it’s sometimes the only option facade engineering consultants have.

Adding a Level Requires Give and Take

A homeowner’s vision and a facade engineering professional’s vision are sometimes completely different. A homeowner knows what they want the structure to look like, but a contractor knows what can and can’t happen. Finding a facade engineering company willing to work with you to get as close to your vision as possible will help make the building process much easier.

Discuss the overall shape of the home, the proportions and how much interior space can be added. There will still be some problems that arise along the way, but as long as both parties are on the same page, there shouldn’t be any issues that can’t be overcome.

At BE Structural, our professionals are willing to take the time to work with every homeowner to make their home additions as desirable as possible. We will be straightforward and honest with you throughout the entire process and will strive to meet your vision closely. If you’re thinking about adding a level to your home, contact us to see how we can help make the process seamless.

Concrete underground homes

Underground Home Structural Components

Underground homes are anything but traditional, but they do still have similar considerations when it comes to the overall structural components. What makes these homes unique is they can be designed in many different ways, depending on the landscape, climate and other factors.

When it comes to the actual structural components, the type of soil needed, the construction materials used and the overall design are all taken into consideration. Here are some of the structural components used in underground home plans.

Type of Soil

As with traditional homes, the type of soil you build on (or in) plays a large role in how you can construct an underground home. And to take it a step further, some walls or other structural components are made from a mixture of clay, sand and straw to form building blocks. While this isn’t recommended for most structures, it is an option available and is used in many cultures.

Concrete Instead of Wood

Due to the nature of underground homes, walls have to be constructed with concrete instead of wood. Concrete underground homes have to be completely waterproof and strong enough to withstand a large amount of earth sitting on top of it, so concrete is the only realistic option for the overall structure.

Underground Home Rooftops

From an aesthetic perspective, the rooftops of underground homes have some of the most unique and distinct characteristics. Most rooftops consist of greenery with live plants and grass growing on them. However, the structural engineering company must ensure the support beams used are sufficient enough to handle the amount of weight on such rooftops.

Thorough Planning is Involved in All Components

From the excavation process all the way to putting the finishing touches, underground home plans must be extremely thorough. Using concrete is an obvious structural component, but the support beams and other materials used to ensure durability and strength have to be taken into consideration. The angles of the home to allow for water runoff and other waterproofing characteristics are essential in order to have sustainable underground homes.

While it may seem like a difficult task to build underground homes, it’s not when you use an experienced structural engineering company, like BE Structural. We know the ins-and-outs of building underground homes, so you won’t have to worry about the structural components used. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about underground homes, the structural components needed and how we can build the underground home you desire.

Custom underground homes

Factors to Consider When Planning an Underground Home

If you’ve done any amount of research on underground homes, you’ve likely seen the multitude of benefits they offer. From the privacy considerations to the natural energy-saving characteristics, an underground home provides a variety of advantages for residents. However, in order to successfully build an underground home, there are many factors to consider. Many of the factors are similar to the ones used when planning traditional homes, but some may be considerations you wouldn’t think of otherwise.

Climate

Most custom underground homes are built in areas where there is extreme climate. Areas with extreme cold or warm temperatures are more suitable for underground homes, since the earth helps to absorb the temperature and keep the home more energy-efficient. Since the temperature of the earth varies much less than the temperature of the air, an underground home can provide more stability and comfort year-round.

Soil

Grainy soil like sand and gravel is best for building an earth-sheltered home. You need a soil that compacts very well due to the weight of the construction materials and the water draining benefits. Structural engineers can conduct a soil test prior to your planning to ensure the land is suitable for construction.

Natural Water Drainage

All underground home plans have to have some sort of natural water drainage incorporated. Of course, you can build a manmade water drainage system, but it’s much more effective to have a natural flow of water in case of a disaster. Extreme water pressure against the walls of an underground home can create significant problems, so this is one of the main considerations when planning underground home construction.

Construction Materials

Most underground homes are built with concrete, since it is one of the strongest and most durable building material there is. Steel is often used in conjunction with concrete to add more stability to the home. Wood can still be used for interior designs and minor structural considerations, but it is not advised to use as primary construction materials for safety and durability reasons.

The structural engineers at BE Structural know what to consider when planning underground homes. Whether it’s the climate, topography or any other environmental issues, we will ensure your underground home can be built safely before any plans are discussed. To get your evaluation for an underground home in your area, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Underground home plans

Three Underground Home Styles

Not all concrete underground homes are the same. In fact, unless these homes are built side-by-side, there’s a chance the design will be vastly different. The style of underground home you can build depends largely on the soil and geography in which it’s being built, even more so than traditional homes.

There are three main styles of underground homes you can build, depending on the landscape you’re working with. A qualified structural engineer should be able to easily give you the best option for your particular area, but here are the three main styles described in detail for you.

Elevational Homes

Elevational homes use the hilly and sloped landscape around you for its construction. The home is essentially built into a hill, so there is one side of the home exposed outward, while the other three sides are contained. The result is a home with natural insulation and many aesthetic options. You could add on multiple levels to your home, depending on the size of the hill, and the main entrypoint may be from the top of the home if you choose.

Berm Homes

Another style for concrete underground homes is berm homes. These are mostly found on flatter land, but uses the earth surrounding it to create hills to cover it up. Berm homes give you more options than other underground home styles, since you have the choice of how many sides you want covered up. You can have anywhere from one to three sides completely enclosed by the earth, depending on what you want and the natural resources available on the flatland.

Atrium Homes

From a design perspective, atrium homes offer the most unique underground home plans. The homes are generally built in a U-shape and are usually submerged in the ground partially. These partially-submerged homes create easy access points to multiple areas of the home. Atrium homes aren’t the most popular underground home style, but they do offer plenty of advantages and options to create the ultimate customized underground home.

BE Structural’s team of structural engineers can help guide you through all of the styles of concrete underground homes available for your location. You may be able to determine the style you can incorporate based on a view of the landscape, but our engineers can help you visualize exactly what your underground home can look like. Feel free to contact us any time for an evaluation or to learn more about underground home plans.

Custom underground homes

All About Reinforced Concrete Underground Homes: The Pros and Cons

Living in an underground home is tempting for many people. While they do offer many benefits, there are also just as many things to take into consideration before you make the investment. All underground home plans have to be different, depending on the climate, soil and other environmental factors. However, with the right structural engineers and architects, you can enjoy living in your custom underground home for years to come.

Advantages of Underground Homes

  • Conservation of Energy – One of the main reasons why people build concrete underground homes is because of the tremendous savings on energy bills. Heating and cooling costs are greatly reduced because the home is not exposed to the weather elements as directly.
  • Protection Against Extreme Weather – Since custom underground homes are protected by the earth naturally, extreme weather patterns don’t affect them much. This means insuring them is usually cheaper and they are safer to live in overall.
  • Privacy – When people can’t see your home from the ground level, you have as much privacy as you could ever want or need. Having a private and quiet outdoor space is one of the best benefits people enjoy with custom underground homes.

Disadvantages of Underground Homes

  • Condensation Issues – Humidity levels are generally higher in underground homes. This could cause condensation issues within the walls and other areas of the home. You’ll need to consider incorporating more insulation to prevent condensation from intruding and eventually leading to mold and mildew issues.
  • Waterproofing Challenges – Since water flows downward, having a completely waterproofed underground home can be a challenge. A structural engineer will have to strategically place drainage areas in and around your home to avoid potential water damage.
  • Ventilation Concerns – Many underground home plans include a ventilator to exchange outdoor air with indoor fresh air. Having good indoor air quality is a concern for underground homes, since the home generally does not get the best air flow below the surface.

At BE Structural, we want to make sure you understand all the challenges and benefits of building concrete underground homes. These can be great structures to live in, but you need the expertise of a structural engineer to determine the proper location and building materials to use. Be sure to contact us if you’re considering living in an underground home so we can analyze the area to maximize the benefits and limit the disadvantages.

BE Structural residential structural engineer

Renovation of Existing Structures and Their Environmental Impact

Commercial and residential buildings are beginning to be constructed with the environment in mind. However, the question has arisen whether it’s better for the environment to demolish and rebuild a new building or to renovate existing ones. The answer may surprise you, as studies have shown it’s more environmentally friendly to spend the resources renovating than building new structures. With the help of structural engineering services, many businesses and homeowners have turned to renovating their current buildings to become green.

Renovations Versus New Structures

When an existing building is torn down, it would take the environment anywhere from 10 to 80 years to recover from the resulting carbon impact. The reason is because there is a lot of stored energy and CO2 hidden in building materials that would all get released into the environment when a building is demolished.

A good residential structural engineer could reduce the amount of negative carbons released into the environment by renovating instead of rebuilding. Of course, the question remains about the difference between short-term and long-term impacts of renovating or rebuilding. The answer varies due to a variety of factors, but there will undoubtedly be some crossover after several years.

Going Green is Better for the Environment

Most people will agree that going green is better for the environment. However, every situation has to be evaluated before beginning. If too many harmful chemicals will be released into the environment by tearing down a building, a structural engineering company may suggest renovating instead. It’s a fine line to follow, but once the right decision is made, there’s no doubt a green building is better than a non-green building.

Where to Begin Renovating?

Before you begin major renovations on your home, be sure to reach out to a residential structural engineer. Not only will they give you advice on the types of materials to use, but they can also suggest whether it’s better to start from scratch. These engineers always have the environment in mind when they work on projects, so you can rest assured that is taken into consideration.

Minor renovations usually won’t have a large impact on the environment, but major ones could impact it significantly. If you have any concerns at all with your renovations, contact us at BE Structural. We are a structural engineering company with your best interests, and the best interests of the environment, in mind at all times.

BE Structural contract structural engineering services

Could These Sustainable Building Materials Improve Our Future?

Despite the naysayers of our society, climate change is real and very much affecting our lives. To minimize the damage, it is important that we begin making changes to the way we live as soon as possible—starting with the ways we build our houses. Engineers across the world have started providing solutions to this complex problem by way of sustainable building materials, which have already debuted as the components of homes and commercial structures. Here are some of the best we’ve seen arise in the industry within recent years.

Layered Windows

Engineers have recently discovered there’s a much more efficient way to insulate windows than current methods allow. By adding a third layer to the typical doubly-layered window, engineers ensure the unit is better able to hold in heat and other forms of energy within a building, improving the energy footprint left behind. Triple layered windows are typically reinforced with an additional insulative coating, as well as paired with special frames designed to further lock in a building’s energy.

Timbercrete

“Timbercrete” is one of many new combination building materials to be offered by contract structural engineering services in recent years. It is made by blending typical concrete with sawdust, hence the name. It is regarded as a form of recycling, since sawdust typically has very little use, and is just as malleable as regular concrete.

Woolen Bricks

Experts from Scotland and Spain first came up with this new form of brickware, which takes regular brick and attaches fibers made from seaweed and natural wool. The application of these fabrics, however, is not some trendy fashion statement. Licensed structural engineer teams have found this particular form of brick is much more resilient than the standard bricks we use today—up to 37 percent more, in fact!

In addition, it proves easier to build with, as it hardens automatically as it dries. Compare this to the average bricks, which must be fired during the construction process. The wool and other fibers attached to this new form of brick also provide extra insulation for those living in Britain and other cold weather areas, as they naturally possess stronger hardiness against the climate.

Bales of Straw

The idea of building entire structures out of straw may sound like something out of The Three Little Pigs, but it’s an honest reality! Societies used to carry out this practice back during the beginning of civilization, when all there was to build with were local materials. One of the most convenient and efficient qualities of straw building are its insulative properties. In addition, it’s very easy to replace on the off-chance the structure should receive damage, thanks to its status as a natural resource. You may very well find structural engineering services offering straw building as an option for residential structures in the near future.

There’s a wealth of sustainable building materials to choose from when it comes to your next construction project. To learn more about your options as well as green building in general and other structural engineering services, feel free to contact us!

B.E. Structural residential structural engineer

Four Prevalent Myths About Sustainable Building – and Why They’re Wrong

There’s a lot of information out there when it comes to sustainable building—so much that even structural engineers sometimes have to sift through it all to check what’s accurate and what isn’t. If you’re as interested in the subject as we are, we know you’ve read top to bottom about it. The only issue, however, is separating fact from fiction. You’d be surprised at how much “information” about sustainable building is anything but! To help you know what’s what, we’ve compiled a few myths about sustainable building, as well as evidence as to why you shouldn’t believe what others have to say.

1) You Have to Sacrifice Beauty for Sustainability

This particular myth has long been perpetuated by architects who’ve witnessed less-than-attractive buildings erected in the name of sustainability. While this may have been true in the past, when structural engineers were first deciphering how to create greener buildings in the first place, this certainly isn’t the case now. In fact, this really may not have ever been the case! With a simple Google search, you can easily find beautiful and sustainable structures all over the world. Engineers are discovering all sorts of ways to mold green materials into beautiful forms on a regular basis.

2) Sustainable Buildings Are Ineffective

Some experts believe the energy input of sustainable buildings isn’t much different from their non-sustainable counterparts. However, research and documentation shows this belief is far from the truth. Every residential structural engineer who’s successfully completed a project has seen amazing results in terms of energy and resource conservation. This is why so many people are seeking out more information on how they can “go green.”

Sustainability also offers efficient benefits by way of cost. Researchers are finding the initial value of a home already optimized for sustainability is smaller in comparison to a home that must be renovated into being “greener.” While simply reducing your energy usage and renovating your home for this purpose will cut costs in the long run, building green in the first place provides a much faster means of saving money and energy in comparison to the more gradual decrease provided by energy switching. Converting to greener living in the first place also produces costs within itself due to the change in equipment, meaning homeowners will have to spend even more out of pocket. Overall, it is far easier to plan a “green” home from the beginning than to try to make the switch with a less-sustainable home.

3) Only Hippies Are Interested in Sustainability

The ‘60s have long been dead. Beyond this point, in the face of mounting climate change, we believe everyone should be more invested in green living. You don’t have to be a hippie to simply conserve energy! In fact, the majority of people seeking out residential engineering services don’t reside in communes or anything of the sort, but live in suburbs and cul de sacs, just like everyone else. It’s irresponsible to assume only tree huggers care about climate change or energy conservation. Everyone can make a difference in this regard, and everyone should care about the planet. It’s the only home we all have.

4) Sustainability Is Only A Phase

Again, this is far from the truth! Green building and living has been developing for years and years, originating back during the time of Frank Lloyd Wright, who first called the concept “organic architecture.” Structural engineers have spent decades improving upon the principle, bolstered by governmental concern about resource and energy consumption. The “green living” movement we have now is simply one stage in a long evolutionary chain—one we hope shows no signs of stagnation.

We hope this article provides you with a more factual concept of green living and its importance. To learn more about sustainability and how you can better incorporate it into your life and home, we encourage you to get in touch with us.

B.E. Structural residential engineering services

Four Methods of Increasing Your Home’s Sustainability

These days, everyone’s becoming more invested in living “greener”—and for good reason! Environmental experts and structural engineers alike have been extolling the merits of converting to a more sustainable way of life in the face of rapidly increasing climate change. The only issue, for most people, is figuring out how to live greener! Where do you start? Where are the best places to cut down? Maybe you want to make a few renovations to your home, but are in need of a structural engineering expert to ensure your additions are permitted and professional. If you’re struggling with how to commit to sustainable living, this blog is for you! Read on for a few great and easy-to-implement suggestions.

1. Add Some Solar Paneling

This first suggestion may be one you want to save up for, but it’s well worth the investment! Solar panels are a newer type of energy source meant to replace the common power line. At B.E. Structural, we’ve performed quite a few solar panelling jobs in a variety of styles and locations, from ground-mounted to roof-mounted to ballasted to attached, for both residential and commercial properties.

While you might balk at the $10,000 minimum to install solar paneling on the roof of your home, we feel it’s worth mentioning this is nothing compared to the amount you’ll pay for your electric bill in the long term. In fact, you can set up a payment plan that works very similarly to your current bill, except it can eventually be paid off completely. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy massive amounts of clean energy at virtually no cost!

2. Swap Out Your Toilets

Sometimes the biggest problem with your energy usage can be solved simply by making a few changes to your bathroom. Have you wondered how much water your toilet uses on a regular basis? The average commode can use as much as six whole gallons with every flush, making some bathroom trips much more wasteful in more ways than one! To reduce your water usage, as well as your monthly bill, you can invest in a low-flush unit that uses a mere one gallon with each flush. You’ll notice the difference within a few months!

3. Change Your Light Bulbs

Despite its size, the average light bulb is incredibly wasteful, and can spike your energy bill up by huge amounts. Your typical bulb can cost nearly $14 in contribution to your bill. This is due largely to the type of energy being output. Halogen may serve your needs well, but it doesn’t last nearly as long or save nearly as much money as an LED fixture would. It’s true LED bulbs cost quite a pretty penny, averaging at around $20 a bulb, but compare the $14 charge per bulb for halogen lighting to the whopping $2 a bulb for LED. Any residential structural engineer will tell you there’s no contest!

4. Start Composting

It’s a well-known fact that waste makes…well, waste! However, there’s a bit more you can do with yours and your family’s garbage than simply drag it out to the street once a week. Consider starting a compost heap using some of the more organic bits of what you throw out, such as fruit and vegetable peels and eggshells. This is a great option for people with home gardens, as this compost can be made into fertilizer. If you have family members or friends who are into gardening, you can also simply pass your compost along to them.

There are many other ways of boosting your home’s sustainability, many of which you can receive help with by commissioning your local residential engineering services. If you want to know more about how you can paint a greener home and lifestyle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to speak to a residential structural engineer!

B.E. Structural custom eco friendly home construction

A Brief Guide to Sustainable Wood

Are you familiar with the concept of sustainable wood? For most people, the answer would be a confused look and a solid “No.” Most people have certainly heard of wood itself, since it’s used to construct pretty much everything, from houses to commercial buildings to furniture. However, sustainable wood is a fairly new concept, though it’s starting to gain some traction in the world of custom eco friendly home construction. If you’re looking to build a home in the near future, and are interested in making it as green as possible, you may want to consider using sustainable wood for construction. Read on to learn all about what sustainable wood is and what it has to offer.

So, What Is Sustainable Wood?

The source of sustainable wood lies predominantly in what is referred to as sustainable forests. These forests are specially cared for by professionals who work to ensure the living things within the forest’s range are able to live for as long as possible and weather all kinds of damages. Compare this to the average forest, such as the situation with the Amazon, which frequently suffers from its resources being used far faster than they can be replenished.

This isn’t the case with a sustainable forest, or sustainable wood. Should the wood of your home be damaged, you can easily find a replacement and won’t have to worry about harming the tree or tree species it’s produced from. In turn, you will also be able to better support the environment simply by choosing a wood source guaranteed to exist long enough to help combat negative environmental effects.

Types of Sustainable Wood You Can Choose From

You can work with a residential structural engineer to ensure you use only sustainable wood for your home—but how do you know the wood you’ve chosen really is sustainable? Here’s a brief list of some of the most common types of sustainable wood:

  • White Oak can be found throughout the eastern United States, and is well-known for its resilience. You can find it in many different shades. It is best and most commonly used for floors and kitchen furniture, such as countertop bases and cabinets.
  • White Ash’s claim to fame lies with the US’s favorite pastime: baseball! Most baseball bats are in fact made from white ash, which is why it’s considered a home run among residential structural engineers. Outside of the baseball field, you can find white ash as furniture pieces—especially the more intricate varieties. It is quite flexible and easy to shape. White ash generally hails from central and eastern parts of the country.
  • Maple’s not just for sourcing your favorite pancake topping! It’s a favorite among contract engineering services due to its extreme flexibility. It comes not just in a variety of colors, but also strengths. Found all across the United States, maple wood is commonly converted into the most functional parts of the home, from the flooring to the paneling to your built-in kitchen furnishings.
  • Rescued lumber can be pulled from other, pre-existing buildings, such as old barns, that were originally crafted through heavy timber construction. Professionals can save the wood from these abandoned structures and recycle them through the construction of your property. This is yet another great, green method of gathering necessary lumber.

Now that you know a little more about sustainable wood, why not consider implementing it into your home construction or renovation? Our team at B.E. Structural can help you learn more about this important material, as well as help you decide which species of wood is best for your home needs. Feel free to contact us to learn more today!

B.E. Structural residential engineering services

Are There Any Benefits to Micro Homes?

These days, micro homes—incredibly small, often portable homes usually designed for single or couple living—are all the rage. People from far and wide are commissioning residential engineering services to create their own micro homes, marking their appeal as the ultimate cozy and green home…or is it? Do micro homes really live up to the hype? Besides coziness, what benefits can they even bring to their occupants, or the world at large? Keep reading to find out!

Easy to Clean

Naturally, the less space you have in your home, the less area you’ll have to tidy up. Additionally, when you move to a micro home, there simply won’t be enough space to keep all of your things. You’ll have to plan carefully where you want everything to go, and get rid of things you don’t have a place for and/or otherwise don’t need. It’s a great way to get into decluttering, if you’re of that home decorating philosophy. Everything in your home will have its own place and purpose. Best of all, no longer will you have to worry about tripping over things you’ve haphazardly dumped onto your floor!

Carbon Emission Shrinks

Smaller homes also tend to mean much lower energy usage, as you’ll have to power, heat and cool a much tinier space. This is especially great news for structural engineers, who have long toiled to find greener solutions to all sorts of construction-based problems. If you, too, are concerned with living greener, a micro home may be just the ticket.

Portability

Does wanderlust run through your veins? If you want to travel more often, but don’t want to have to worry as much about accommodations, you may want to consider purchasing a micro home. They are extremely portable, thanks largely to their diminutive size! All you have to do is attach it or load it onto a truck and you’re ready to go. Best of all, you can easily be entirely self-sufficient even while on the road. Depending on its design, you may need to hook it up to an RV station to receive the utilities you need. However, if you pick a micro home with natural energy storage, you just have to situate it where it can easily gather sunlight and rain.

Affordability

As it stands, commissioning a residential structural engineer to build your micro home is still far cheaper than purchasing an average-sized home and setting up a mortgage. Smaller homes mean engineers and builders use less resources for its construction, as well as less land area.

Should you decide to live in a micro home, you’ll find your bills and other expenses will significantly reduce! After all, you just aren’t using as much energy or other resources as you would in a larger home. However, both you and your wallet will appreciate the lighter load!

These are only a few of the best reasons to consider building a micro home. To learn more about what makes micro homes great, as well as look into obtaining one of your own, reach out to us to get in touch with a residential structural engineer.

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Our Five Picks for the World’s Most Sustainable Buildings

With the rise in global warming and its various effects, it’s no wonder structural engineers have also kicked off the rise in sustainable construction. Greener and greener buildings have emerged all across the world for this very reason, and they’re continually becoming more and more innovative in a myriad of ways. In fact, so many of them have amassed that we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites. Read on to learn what they are and why they’ve made our list!

1. Pixel

Located in the heart of Australia, the Pixel building has been hailed by structural engineers for its unique features, especially with regards to energy recycling. For instance, in its bathrooms you’ll find mechanisms capable of producing heat from excrement, as well as solar panels attached to the outside of the building that are programmed to keep track of the sun’s movements.

While some of these features may sound grotesque, they actually represent quite a few important milestones within the industry. One of the most important facets of sustainability is the ability to conserve and recycle energy sources as much as possible, even if it’s through slightly messy means.

2. Bahrain World Trade Center

The World Trade Center of Bahrain happens to be just as efficient as it is visually appealing! The structural engineering company in charge of its design kept the idea of improving its ability to gather and use energy in mind. As a result, the building relies in wind energy, which it collects through its towers. Said towers are built to resemble sails—mechanisms commonly known for their ability to catch and glide with air.

3. OS House

Located in Racine, Wisconsin, the OS House may be small in stature, but it’s made huge strides in the world of energy saving! From its specialized plumbing with a system for delivering hot water on demand to its ample solar energy usage, you’re guaranteed to find no other house like this on the market—at least not right away!

4. The Crystal

Inspired by the famous Australian Opera House, the Crystal mimics the jagged structure of the building, but has quite a few noteworthy features of its own. It both recycles any and all nearby waste into new energy and utilizes nothing but electricity as far as its daily energy usage. Its innovations have earned it both BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) awards.

5. One Angel Square

Also hailing from England, the One Angel Square makes its home in Manchester, where it serves as a plant for all-natural and renewable energy. Like other structures on this list, it is able to recycle energy. However, it also possesses its own farm, where some of its energy output comes from. It has also received an award from BREEAM.

While all of the above mentioned buildings are commercial, you may very well be able to commission some of their features for your own home from residential engineering services in the near future. To learn more about the different advancements in green construction, feel free to contact us!

B.E. Structural building a dome home

Hobbit Homes Are Real, and Here’s How You Can Obtain One of Your Own!

Customized home designs are gaining swift popularity as of recent years, and for good reasons: their flexibility and, most beneficially, their sustainability! People are becoming more aware of climate change than ever before, after all, and its visible effects on the weather throughout the world prompts most to take action however they can. For most people, this means modifying their homes to be more environmentally friendly.

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’re probably intimately familiar with the concept and design of “hobbit homes.” If you also care about going green, you’ll be happy to know these homes can and do exist in the real world, and can even be commissioned and built for your own living needs! Interested? In this blog article, we’ll go over just what it takes to have your own hobbit home.

How Do Hobbit Homes Work?

If you aren’t familiar with this home design concept, we want to take the time to explain just what a hobbit home is. Building a hobbit home is very similar to building a dome home, particularly in terms of shape. Hobbit homes are typically nestled into hills, identifiable by the door placed into the hillside and the pathway leading up to it. These homes come in all sizes, meaning you can have a hobbit home of your own with as much space as you could possibly need.

What Are the Benefits of a Hobbit Home?

The best and most noteworthy feature of the hobbit home, much like dome home floor plans, is its versatility—both before and after building. Not only can you customize your hobbit home exactly to your liking, but once the construction is done, you have further options! Is your home growing too small? You can simply add onto it by requesting more “modules,” or home sections to be further implemented into the hillside. Modules come with all sorts of functions, from rooms to fully usable garages. Furthermore, you can even put the roof of your home to functional use! The grassy layout of the roof of a typical hobbit home makes a wonderful base for a garden, allowing you to grow flowers, vegetables or anything else you choose!

Even if you don’t want to plant anything on your roof, the grass up top will come in handy in case of rain and other weather events. Because of the vegetation up top, you don’t have to worry nearly as much about water damage to your home. Dome home builders ensure your home will be able to withstand the weather since the grass can easily absorb the rain’s moisture. It will then photosynthesize, giving back to the planet and reducing your need to worry about water conservation and home-owning disasters.

Does the idea of a hobbit home interest you? If so, B.E. Structural can help put you on the path to obtaining one of your own! Be sure to get in touch with us and we’ll help you every step of the way, from blueprints to dome home floor plans to location.

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Our Well-Rounded Guide to Dome Homes

For decades, and even today, dome homes sound like a futuristic construction you might expect to see only in a sci-fi novel. However, the truth is they’re very much real, and you can even commission one to be built for your own use as we speak! While most people may be familiar with the concept of dome homes, they haven’t given much thought to the reasons they’re built and the benefits they hold. That’s why, in this blog, we’ll provide you with a crash course in everything you need to know about these marvelous structures and why it’s worth considering living in one.

Where Did Dome Homes Come From?

Experts trace the origin of the dome home as far back as the 1960s, when environmentalism was just beginning to impact our culture and affect the way we wanted to live. Originally, dome home plans came about as a type of rebellion against the typical “white picket fence” structure that still pervades today’s home designs.

People wanted to make a statement that they themselves didn’t desire suburbian life, and they were different from previous generations. The dome home became appealing because of its structure, not just because of its differences from the norm, but because of their accommodative capacity and ability to be built without nearly as many resources.

Are Dome Homes Beneficial?

According to structural engineers and many other professionals, dome homes offer quite a wide range of benefits to their owners and the environment. Should you decide to acquire a dome home of your own, you can expect to experience or contribute to these advantages:

  • Affordability. When you compare a dome home to the average suburban home, you’ll find the cost to build and maintain the former is largely reduced. This holds true across the board. They don’t require as much energy to power, leading to lower utility bills. They also don’t use nearly as many materials during the construction process, and can be built to completion at a much faster rate. If you want to move somewhere relatively quickly, but desire autonomy and long-term savings, a dome home may be your best bet.
  • Flexibility. There are countless ways you can put together your dome home! They’re naturally spacious and have the capacity to store quite a bit of belongings and amenities. If you’re a fan of interior design, you’ll enjoy the ability to easily recreate your surroundings in any way you please, even if it means tearing down a wall or two to expand a room. The good news is renovations can be made quite easily, and dome homes do not have or need the framing walls you see on the inside of traditional homes.
  • Sturdiness. Dome home builders design their structures to be as safe as possible throughout any situation. Simply put, they’re hard to topple! If you choose to live somewhere especially prone to natural disasters, you can rest assured knowing your dome home will stay standing in the event of even the worst weather. Compare this to the average home!

If you’re sold on dome homes, you don’t have to wait to have one built! Contact us and we can not only give you more information, but help you start planning your own dome home as soon as possible.

B.E. Structural structural engineering services

Recent Structural Engineering Trends

The world is and has always been constantly growing and changing around us. While we all see evidence of this fact everyday, no other group feels the impact going on around us more severely than structural engineers. The reason why makes sense, with a little thought.

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Consider living roofs to help the environment.

Everything You Should Know About Living Roofs

The time is now. It’s time to install a living roof on location. Environmentally friendly living has never been easier.  Blue or green, if Facebook can install a living forest rooftop, so can you! One of the newest architectural trends of late, living roofs have taken corporate America by storm and have become exceptionally popular with many organizations.

What Is a Living Roof?

If you don’t know what a living roof is, don’t worry. A living roof is simply a building that is fully or partially covered by vegetation that’s planted over a membrane used to waterproof the building. Many living roofs also contain additional layers like root barriers, drainage systems and irrigation systems.

Living roofs are also referred to as green roofs. Another form of living roof is known as a blue roof. These roofs don’t feature vegetation but do offer the building a place to collect and store water. Blue roofs can be passive or active in these attempts to gather water.

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