Assessing embodied carbon, with Tekla

As environmental sustainability becomes an increasingly ‘hot’ topic in the run up to Net Zero, the construction industry is also falling under pressure to reduce its carbon emissions, fast. Fortunately, there are tools available to help engineers and contractors deliver on this greener future, such as Tekla’s Embodied Carbon Calculator.

It’s clear that there has been (and continues to be) a big push on the ‘building green’ approach, featuring heavily in the UK Government’s agenda and written guidance, such as the Construction Playbook and National Infrastructure Strategy, as well as being a recurring concern amongst clients and developers. In fact, more and more people are showing an invested interest in understanding the life-cycle performance of their building, its embodied carbon output and, most importantly, how this value can be reduced. 

Defined as being all the CO2 emitted in producing materials, a building’s embodied carbon value can include all emissions from all construction products, the construction process itself, the building’s lifespan and its end of life. In order to achieve the aspiration of ‘building green’, you first need to be able to assess, analyse and evaluate the embodied carbon within a building or structure at the initial design stage. Only then can you make more informed and engineered decisions about its delivery.

It is here that digital technology and the latest developments within the BIM software industry can help, such as the new Embodied Carbon Assessment tool from Trimble.

Available within Tekla Structural Designer and Tekla Structures, the calculator works directly in conjunction with the existing 3D modelling and engineering software. The Embodied Carbon Calculator also offers export options to One Click Life Cycle Analysis, the construction life-cycle metrics software.

Assessment

Built into Tekla Structural Designer, the intelligent calculator tool enables engineers to automatically view, measure and understand the level of carbon included in their schemes. Designed for use at the initial stages of design – as early as Stages A1 to A3 of The Construction Lifecycle – it can facilitate more informed decision making and better understanding as the construction sequence processes.

With the tool’s automation, carbon assessments are made quick and simple, with a wealth of information and data available at an engineer’s fingertips. As well as having detailed insight into the structure’s overall embodied carbon, it’s also possible to take this visibility further. Using the calculator’s filters, engineers can break down the embodied carbon values and filter results according to a specific structural material, member type, slab type and more, as well as viewing where the highest amount of embodied carbon is present within the structure. Enabling engineers to really dive down into the data, this level of detail can be invaluable in helping to drive down the building’s environmental impact and carbon output. 

Using embodied carbon filter to show which beams are not working hard and could be made smaller to reduce carbon

Multi-view

Of course, as well as considering how a building’s embodied carbon emissions can be reduced, it is imperative that doing so does not have a detrimental impact on the engineer’s prime role of developing a safe, stable and efficient structural design. In many ways, it requires a careful balance of the two, finding the point where its design strength AND embodied carbon value is perfectly optimised.

With the multi-view feature within the Tekla Embodied Carbon Calculator, engineers can do just that – assessing and evaluating the building or individual component’s structural performance and carbon output side by side. This enhanced visibility can help the engineers to detect areas or components where the amount of steel or concrete used could be reduced, lessening the carbon emissions while still ensuring it meets the required structural performance.

Assessing embodied carbon totals of concrete columns and steel beams in model by detail

Optimisation 

While the most efficient structural design is the end-goal, there can be many different design variations along the road to achieve this. As such, the ability to compare and analyse the merits and disadvantages of alternate designs, materials and approaches (whether from a cost, performance or carbon point of view) can be invaluable.

By using the carbon calculator, engineers can easily compare different scheme options and the respective embodied carbon values for all, facilitating a more informed decision-making process and helping project teams to settle on the most efficient structural design.  

The data results and reports generated in Tekla Structural Designer can also be easily shared with key stakeholders and project partners, aiding better collaboration and open communication – crucial on any construction project. 

Assessing embodied carbon totals of concrete slabs

Tekla Structures

As well as its use at the structural design and analysis stage of a project, engineers can also utilise the carbon assessment tool further on in the construction sequence, within Tekla Structures. 

With Tekla Structure’s live connection with One Click LCA and the intelligent, integrated data link between the detailing software and Tekla Structural Designer, engineers can push these carbon visibility benefits further, from looking at what you’ve designed to what you’ve built. By generating data and reports in both Tekla Structural Designer and Tekla Structures, you can effectively monitor carbon emissions as the project progresses from design through to on-site construction and assembly.

Find out more

To learn more about reducing embodied carbon with Tekla software, please visit our resources page. If you have any questions or would like to book a demo, get in touch.

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