Using less material in design
Designing for least weight may not produce a lowest cost or buildable design. However a balance needs to be struck. Research has shown that a traditional ‘judgement’ approach to rationalisation leads to average structural utilisations of less than 50%. Clearly more can be done and more care should be taken when rationalising a design.
Structural elements can also play a surprisingly significant part in avoiding waste through facilitating reduced material use for finishes, facade and services.
Reducing waste in fabrication and design
WRAP provides guidance for ‘designing out waste’. Many structural products incorporate waste from other industries. Reducing waste through procurement and specification can be achieved by favouring suppliers with ‘responsible sourcing’ accreditation, reducing packaging and avoiding over-ordering. In general structural elements are less affected by these issues than non-structural materials.
Keeping materials in service for longer
Ensuring a structure is durable and maintainable is basic good practice, while enabling refurbishment is a valuable contribution to sustainable construction. Refurbishment and demolition are commonly prompted by non-structural causes. The role of the structure in protecting assets during extreme events is an important factor in many regions. Structures designed for a short service life should be designed for deconstruction, if practical.
Enabling a resource efficient end of life outcome
Ensuring that structure, finishes, facade and services are separable avoids premature obsolescence and demolition of buildings. It may also enable materials to be reused rather than recycled.