Optimization Formulations for the Design of Low Embodied Energy Structures Made from Reused Elements

The building sector is one of the major contributors to material resource consumption, greenhouse gas emission and waste production. Load-bearing systems have a particularly large environmental impact because of their material and energy intensive manufacturing process. This paper aims to address the reduction of building structures environmental impacts through reusing structural elements for multiple service lives. Reuse avoids sourcing raw materials and requires little energy for reprocessing. However, to design a new structure reusing elements available from a stock is a challenging problem of combinatorial nature. This is because the structural system layout is a result of the available elements’ mechanical and geometric properties. In this paper, structural optimization formulations are proposed to design truss systems from available stock elements. Minimization of weight, cut-off waste and embodied energy are the objective functions subject to ultimate and serviceability constraints. Case studies focusing on embodied energy minimization are presented for: (1) three roof systems with predefined geometry and topology; (2) a bridge structure whose topology is optimized using the ground structure approach; (3) a geometry optimization to better match the optimal topology from 2 and available stock element lengths. In order to benchmark the energy savings through reuse, the optimal layouts obtained with the proposed methods are compared to weight-optimized solutions made of new material. For these case studies, the methods proposed in this work enable reusing stock elements to design structures embodying up to 71% less energy and hence having a significantly lower environmental impact with respect to structures made of new material.

Published in:
Advanced Computing Strategies for Engineering, 1, Chapter 8
Presented at:
25th EG-ICE International Workshop 2018, Lausanne, Switzerland, June 10-13, 2018
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature
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 Record created 2018-05-30, last modified 2019-12-05

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