SE2050 Commitment Journey to Net Zero

Our Commitment to SE 2050

The SE 2050 Commitment Program is an initiative aimed at reducing the embodied carbon in structural systems to net-zero by 2050. This aligns with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C, as recommended by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Glotman•Simpson is not only a signatory of this commitment but an active leader, continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in sustainable structural engineering.

Innovative Automation Tools for Lower Embodied Carbon

You cannot reduce what you cannot measure – we always hear this in the sustainability space and it’s true! To support our commitment to reducing embodied carbon, we have developed several proprietary tools that integrate seamlessly into our Building Information Modeling (BIM) and structural design processes. These tools enable us to assess, compare, and optimize the carbon footprint of our projects from the earliest design stages.

1. STEVIE (Sustainable Tech Tool for Embodied Carbon Visualization of Integrated Efficiency): STEVIE is a BIM-integrated tool that automates the tracking of embodied carbon throughout a project’s lifespan. By running life cycle assessments (LCA) and creating clear visualizations of the carbon intensity of different structural elements, STEVIE helps our team identify and implement targeted reduction strategies at key project milestones.

2. CASEY (Comparative Analysis for Sustainable Efficiency): CASEY is our proprietary Revit plug-in designed to assist in the early stages of project design. It provides a graphical comparative analysis of different materials and structural layouts, enabling our clients and architects to make informed decisions that prioritize sustainability. CASEY’s ability to compare Global Warming Potential (GWP) intensity bay-by-bay allows us to develop low-carbon design options for clients and architects to compare from the outset of projects.

3. CARMA (Carbon Assessment and Reduction Made Accessible): CARMA allows for real-time, element-by-element comparisons of structural options, considering both GWP and cost impacts. This tool facilitates informed decision-making during the project’s preliminary stages, enabling designers to provide embodied carbon comparisons for structural elements like beams and columns quickly and efficiently and to relay that information to the client.

Setting and Achieving Benchmarks

In 2023, we established a company-wide GWP benchmark of 350 kgCO2e/m² for our projects, based on extensive evaluations of typical projects. This benchmark serves as a guide for our reduction goals in the coming years. Our integrated GWP Calculator App, embedded into our in-house design spreadsheets, allows our designers to actively assess and compare the embodied carbon impact of various design alternatives in real time.

The same automation tools used to set up a benchmark for our projects also help facilitate the presentation of a diverse range of design options at the onset of a project, fostering a collaborative decision-making process. This not only ensures that our clients are actively involved in shaping the trajectory of their projects but also allows them to explore and choose designs that align with their specific sustainability goals. The sooner these options are presented, the more power we have in shaping the embodied carbon intensity reduction of the whole structure. 

Education and Advocacy

Our journey towards sustainable practices begins with knowledge, and we firmly believe that knowledge should be shared. We take a multi-directional approach towards continually pursuing knowledge surrounding sustainable building design and sharing that knowledge within out company, our clients and to the greater public. 

Our “OnTrack” blog series is an educational resource that provides insights into sustainable design trends, policy changes, and innovative automation tools. Launched in 2023, this meticulously curated series delved into various research topics, offering profound insights in out firm’s internal research studies on various methods of embodied carbon reduction and how we perceive the industry’s transformation. This blog series is meant to inform our design decisions and communications with out clients as well as create a public platform for the public to read our findings. 

Internally, our Sustainability Committee, which accounts for about one-fifth of our firm, comes together on a monthly basis to ensure our team meets our SE2050 milestones and keeps our firm on track. One of the most exciting development of 2023 was the collaboration with our Automation Team to develop tools for the engineers to use during design. This partnership resulted in exciting enhancements to our in-house design spreadsheets and the creation of a BIM-integrated tool, STEVIE, revolutionizing the GWP tracking throughout our project’s lifecycle. 

Looking Ahead

As we continue to innovate and refine our approaches, we remain committed to not only meeting industry standards but redefining them. The challenges ahead are formidable, but our determination is stronger. We look forward to a future where our projects contribute significantly to a lower carbon built environment, achieved through one innovation at a time.

For more information on our sustainability initiatives and to stay updated on our latest projects, visit our website and follow our “OnTrack” blog series.