Embodied Carbon Action Plan

By Leif Johnson,
Structural Engineering Director - Seattle

StructureCraft is an Engineer-Build firm with a portfolio covering efficiently designed and built mass timber and hybrid steel-timber structures across North America and Asia. We understand our roles as stewards and the impact our work has on the environment. In 2021, StructureCraft became a signatory firm of the SEI’s SE 2050 Committing to Net Zero. Since our initial Embodied Carbon Action Plan (ECAP) submitted to SEI, we continue to:

  • Provided education and resources on embodied carbon to our internal staff

  • Track and report the embodied carbon of our current and past projects

  • Reduce the embodied carbon on future projects through efficient structural design and responsible sourcing and procurement

  • Advocate for lower carbon designs amongst clients and industry peers

StructureCraft has created a sustainability group which meets biweekly. The primary goal of the group is to ensure the commitment and progress of the company's sustainability goals. Specifically, the group is researching, developing, and implementing sustainability and carbon assessment related topics:

  • Researching innovations in timber construction and discussing recent research papers.

  • Development of a relevant carbon calculator and considering new improvements in existing carbon estimators for the Canadian and US market.

  • Implementing new policies in the company such as new standards on calculation of carbon emissions on projects.

Working closely together with Architects & Owners, the sourcing of wood is a common topic and often given as a project requirement. As a design-build company, StructureCraft assists both the Architect and Owner in determining sustainable pathways. Education internally is an integral part in providing this service for our clients. Therefore, our tools are accessible to all employees along with guidance manuals and reference projects.

We track embodied carbon on our projects through use of our BIM and computational design tools which we link to an internal calculation tool for embodied carbon estimation, providing us feedback throughout the design process.

The StructureCraft software team has developed an internal tool for real-time massing and carbon reporting during the early design studies of mass timber projects. The tool has informed our early design studies and was used in our communications with developers and architects to find the best carbon neutral solutions.

As engineer of record on structures which often already contain significant timber elements as well as concrete/steel, StructureCraft's focus in pushing forward sustainable construction techniques must go beyond simply recommending mass timber as a lower carbon construction material. Our focus is thus two-fold: reducing total material consumption by designing the entire structure efficiently, regardless of material choice; and lowering the carbon content of the materials we do specify via regional sourcing, and specification of low-carbon materials where possible.

Overall embodied carbon reduction strategies:

  1. Improved efficiency in the structural design, including incorporating composite timber-steel and timber-concrete systems where possible to minimize the amount of timber, steel and concrete.

  2. Sourcing timber from regional and sustainably managed forests and/or certified timber where possible (e.g. FSC, PEFC, SFI, etc..).

  3. For all materials, procuring materials where supplier-specific EPDs are possible

  4. Request supplier-specific EPDs and contractor’s bill of materials for more accurate material quantities and the associated embodied carbon of those materials.

StructureCraft endeavours to steward well the resources entrusted to us, as we continue to push boundaries in efficient structural design.