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Responsible Use of Materials – The Structural Engineers’ Path to Climate Change Mitigation

Published: 13 April 2022


The German Budersvereinigung der Prüfingenieure für Bautechnik (VPI) (the Federal Association of Test Engineers for Civil Engineering) with whom CROSS co-operate, has published a memo on the responsible use of materials- The Structural Engineers’ Path to Climate Change Mitigation. The memo outlines the challenges facing engineers and states ‘…the structural designer’s input on the project is postponed to a point where all the crucial decisions have been made and only an insignificant potential of material-savings, often accompanied by a significant reduction of the structure´s robustness, resilience or future adaptivity, is left.’

They say that the actions required to be undertaken by engineers in the climate emergency, and the need to achieve zero emissions, must be undertaken whilst ensuring structures remain safe. This needs also to be considered in conjunction with other factors, such as:

  • Programme and budget delivery pressures
  • Potential inadequate client funding for design 
  • Avoidance of liability, and risk transfer down the supply chain
  • Shortage of Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP)
  • Fragmentation of the industry and the supply chain, and therefore accountability
  • Limited intelligent customer capability
  • Restrictive and limiting contractual arrangements for designers, such as inadequate site inspections.

It should be recognised that safety comes with a cost and all the above could be exacerbated in the current economic environment.

We are pleased to publish this paper as a contribution to our theme page: Safety of structures in the climate emergency

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