Embodied carbon reducing design strategies have always been a core design principle at Forell Elsesser. We work with our clients early in design to make strategic decisions to reduce the impact a building’s structural system has on the environment. Over the years, we have consistently tracked the environmental impact of our designs using Life Cycle Assessments. We have completed LCAs on a wide range of projects – from office and residential spaces to multi storied life science and academic buildings.
Soil improvement can play a huge role in reducing embodied carbon in structures. Investing in soil improvement will have a positive impact on the site class, which in turn can reduce the seismic design category and seismic demands. Seismic design category can be a better indicator than site class alone because it accounts for risk category, which may increase the seismic demands. Across our projects, a lower seismic design category trends towards a lower embodied carbon. Where possible, the strategy of improving site class (and with it, reducing seismic design category) can achieve a 20-60% carbon reduction.
F|E recently suggested this soil improvement strategy for a new life science building in Northern California. Our team recommended and proceeded with revising from a Site Class F to a Site Class C. The shift in site class reduced the seismic demands by 60% which helped achieve aggressive sustainability goals from the owner.