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HGA Joins SE 2050 Commitment to Carbon Neutral Structural Systems

HGA is among the first architecture/engineering firms to sign the Structural Engineers 2050 (SE 2050) Commitment, which sets measurable goals to eliminate embodied carbon in structural systems by 2050.

Mass timber is at the forefront of the embodied carbon conversation. Building with wood on the Theodore Wirth Trailhead building allowed HGA to sequester carbon within the structure for the lifetime of the building and beyond.

Structural building materials, a major contributor to global warming, make up approximately 40 percent of the embodied carbon in a building—the carbon emitted from extracting, manufacturing, and transporting materials. While sustainable design traditionally has been led by architects, the SE 2050 Commitment puts structural engineers at the forefront of addressing global climate change.

Sponsored by the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the SE 2050 Commitment challenges firms to “transform the practice of structural engineering in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven,” according to SEI.

“SE 2050 will capture and analyze embodied carbon data related to the AEC industry,” said Ethan Fogle, Structural Designer at HGA. “This opportunity to establish firm- and industry-wide baselines ultimately allows structural engineers to set and achieve carbon goals in collaboration with architects, owners, and other building professionals. The building industry is at a turning point. Our early adoption and support of SE 2050 will set HGA apart as clients start to demand more sustainable projects. As HGA’s collective embodied carbon expertise grows, we will be able to elevate sustainable design and construction practices on our projects and challenge the industry.”

Requirements

SE 2050 includes a professional toolkit of resources and educational opportunities to benchmark embodied carbon metrics, set carbon-reduction targets, track progress, and validate strategies against industry standards.

Participating firm submit a Commitment Letter from firm leadership upon signing; an Embodied Carbon Action Plan (ECAP) within six months; and data to the SE 2050 project database within the first year.

The Embodied Carbon Action Plan particularly includes four detailed steps:

  • Education—educate colleagues, clients, and vendors;
  • Create a Reporting Plan—measure, track, and report embodied carbon;
  • Embodied Carbon Reduction Strategies—outline an implementation plan;
  • Advocacy—build a culture that brings change to the architecture/engineering/construction industry.
Background

SE 2050 was launched in December 2019 by the SEI Board of Governors. Firms will commit 20 percent of their projects to SE 2050 guidelines in the first year, incrementally increasing to 100 percent by 2050.

“Signing the SE 2050 Commitment is part of HGA’s long-term investment in sustainable research, design, and practice,” said Tim Carl, FAIA, CEO of HGA. “We believe it is our responsibility to shape the future through design, and this is a critical step to help us quantify that goal.”

HGA also is a signatory of AIA 2030 Commitment, which sets operational carbon neutral goals for architecture and mechanical engineering systems.

For more information, visit SE 2050.