Business and Professional Practices
Full Session with Abstracts
When structural consulting firms review the qualifications of employee candidates, competence in basic structural principles, knowledge of conventional construction systems, and practical design and analysis abilities are paramount. But as the concept of sustainable design matures and becomes a more common component of project design requirements, consideration of an understanding of sustainable principles has become more significant. Further, as more and more architects and other clients are becoming attuned to the benefits of collaboration with informed members of design teams, candidates with at least a basic knowledge of sustainability concepts can have an edge in the engineering job marketplace.
This presentation is in the form of a wishlist, from an employer’s perspective, of desirable attributes in new recruits, regarding sustainability. Categories include:
• Understanding of the environmental footprint of traditional structural materials, especially concrete and steel, and an appreciation of practical ways to reduce the carbon emissions of these materials.
• Knowledge of the basic concepts of the green rating systems, especially LEED.
• Realization of the importance of minimizing structural thermal bridging in the design and detailing of structural systems that intersect the insulated building envelope, and exposure to the most effective types of details that minimize thermal bridging.
• Basic knowledge of how insulation and air barriers work in building envelopes to minimize thermal losses in a building.
• Awareness of the variety of non-traditional structural systems, including mass timber construction, insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), and frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSFs).
• Use of design tools such as Building Information Modeling systems to allow collaboration with other members of design teams to accomplish a project’s goals, including sustainability goals.
Further, new hires in design offices that are recent graduates who have an understanding of sustainability principles can help an office improve its practices, by infusing their knowledge and helping to change standard design and detailing systems for the right reasons. The industry needs their perspective and values.