When you’re looking at different types of analysis and design software, you’re likely looking at basic, high-level features that can take care of the majority of your needs when working on a structure. However, as the needs of the construction industry evolve, it’s essential to choose software that is able to effectively address these changes.
For instance, because today’s construction industry is trending towards buildings that are becoming more lightweight and sustainable, new types of analysis are required to address relatively new issues, such as assessing embodied carbon, analyzing floor vibrations and calculating the additional weight and surface area of fireproofing material. These types of tools may not be front of mind, but they’re essential for structural engineers who want to stay ahead in the industry.
Footfall Assessment Tool
Buildings are becoming lighter and more efficient thanks to advancements in structural design technology. However, this has made the floors more sensitive to vibrations caused by walking. Although it may seem like a minor issue, it is important to assess this sensitivity to prevent any disturbance to occupants or sensitive equipment.
You can perform this assessment with a simplified prescriptive check to test floor vibrations, however, this method has multiple limitations in terms of accuracy and geometric applicability. The simple workflow involved in this process includes all the necessary details for an easily reviewed assessment, ensuring that your calculations will be accurate. Additionally, a more rigorous analytical approach can open the door for more complex and unique structures.
While a structure's strength and stiffness are important aspects to focus on, there are also secondary aspects that are key parts of the long-term success of a structure, such as fireproofing materials and their impact. While area loading is typically used to address the additional weight, it can be inaccurate and overly conservative. Furthermore, knowing the adjusted surface area is critical when performing wind analysis on an open structure, and area loading doesn’t factor this in.
To better address this issue, intelligent analysis and design software offers an easy way for engineers to apply fire-resistant insulation to the surface of structural members. With this feature, they can apply fireproofing to all 1D members in the model, specifying the distribution, thickness, and density. The fireproofing not only increases the weight and surface area of members, but the self-weight is automatically calculated, reported, and included in the analysis.
Embodied Carbon Assessment
As sustainability gains importance in the construction industry, the carbon footprint of a structure receives increased attention. A building's embodied carbon value can encompass various aspects, such as emissions from construction materials, the building process, its lifespan, and end-of-life. To make informed decisions about a building's delivery, structural engineers must evaluate, analyze and assess its embodied carbon during the initial design phase.
With the right analysis and design software, engineers can now assess embodied carbon quickly and effortlessly during the early design stages, including how different members in a design can be best utilized and better communicate the effects of design decisions to stakeholders. They can also compare the carbon impact of different design options and monitor their progress as they refine their designs to minimize carbon output. This allows engineers to come to the table better prepared with quantitative data earlier so they can better communicate the effects of design decisions to stakeholders.
When it comes to an industry that is constantly innovating and evolving, you need software that progresses with it. These new and updated features allow structural engineers to adapt quickly to emerging trends and meet the future needs of the construction industry.