The Structural Awards open to entries, with new emphasis on sustainable practice
Date published

22 January 2020

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The Structural Awards open to entries, with new emphasis on sustainable practice

Date published

22 January 2020

The Institution has opened entries to the Structural Awards 2020, its annual celebration of the most outstanding engineering projects from around the world. This year the entry criteria have been revised in the light of the climate emergency, asking every submission to clearly demonstrate its sustainability credentials.

Tim Ibell, Chair of the Structural Awards Judging Panel, explains some of the changes to award categories:

Each submission should demonstrate its sustainability credentials

“This year we have removed the Award for Sustainability, as the judges feel we no longer need a separate category for what must be an embedded culture. 

“We’re now asking that submissions to any of our categories clearly articulate their projects’ sustainability credentials, stating the carbon count where this has been conducted, and demonstrating that the carbon footprint was minimised as far as possible. 

“We’re acutely aware that many projects submitted in 2020 were conceived well before the climate crisis was quite so prevalent in the profession’s thinking, and we’ll take that into account this year. 

“However, in future years we will tighten these requirements to insist on a carbon count in all submissions, which will also have to show that this carbon count is lower than the norm (when benchmarking data becomes available). 

“Of course, sustainability is much broader than mere carbon, and in future years we will also want to know if and how a project addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

New Award for Minimal Intervention
“Anecdotal evidence demonstrates that some of the greatest structural engineering expertise is demonstrated in advising clients not to do anything major to their existing structure or, at worst, to intervene in a minimalist manner. 

“At present, we do not reward such structural engineering excellence, so we have decided that we should. It is the greatest form of sustainability, in truth, all based on using the engineer’s brain.”
New Award for Zero Carbon 

“We have chosen to focus an award on the minimisation of carbon footprint for two reasons. Firstly, structural engineers have direct control over the specification of the embodied carbon in their structures. 

“Secondly, we wanted to have an award which showcased to the whole profession how it is possible to design a structure which has a zero-carbon footprint. 

“This is not easy to achieve, even assuming life-cycle analysis approaches, which is why this new award is such an important category for inspiration in our profession.”

Tim adds:

“The Structural Awards reward innovation and they encourage others to do similarly extraordinary things. 

“We’ve made these changes because the profession needs exemplars of wonderfully inspiring, exciting and low-carbon structures to be exhibited and celebrated, so that they become the norm over time.”

To view new categories or to make an entry visit


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