Comparative numerical analysis for cost and embodied carbon optimisation of steel building structures
The study investigated an area of sustainable structural design that is often overlooked in practical engineering applications. Specifically, a novel method to simultaneously optimise the cost and embodied carbon performance of steel building structures was explored in this paper. To achieve this, a parametric design model was developed to analyse code compliant structural configurations based on project specific constraints and rigorous testing of various steel beam sections, floor construction typologies (precast or composite) and column layouts that could not be performed manually by engineering practitioners. Detailed objective functions were embedded in the model to compute the cost and life cycle carbon emissions of the different material types used in the structure. Results from a comparative numerical analysis of a real case study illustrated that the proposed optimisation approach could guide structural engineers towards areas of the solution space with realistic design configurations, enabling them to effectively evaluate trade-offs between cost and carbon performance. This significant contribution implied that the optimisation model could reduce the time required for the design and analysis of multiple structural configurations especially during the early stages of a project. Overall, the paper suggested that the deployment of automated design procedures can enhance the quality as well as the efficiency of the optimisation analysis.
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