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Structural Engineers Express Concern with New LEED Draft
January 11, 2011

In public comments submitted to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Sustainability Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) expressed serious concern with changes related to the use of structural materials in the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2012 rating system draft.

“We in the structural engineering community were taken aback to see structural materials eliminated from the draft LEED credits for Regional Materials, Recycled Content Materials, and Bio-Based Materials,” said Mark Webster of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., chair of the committee’s working group on the new LEED draft. “Structural materials carry significant environmental impacts and LEED needs to provide incentives to reduce those impacts.”

As design professionals continue to realize the impact that structural engineers can have on sustainable design—as well as the impact that sustainability codes and standards such as LEED can have on engineering practice—the group noted that such changes in the LEED rating system may ultimately affect the practice of structural engineering by reducing the engineer’s incentive to work toward integrated, sustainable design solutions.

A full summary of the consensus comments from the ASCE SEI Sustainability Committee can be found on their site, Information on SEI’s Sustainability Guidelines for the Structural Engineer publication is also available.

The latest draft of LEED is available for free download from USGBC. Interested parties may submit comments on the proposed rating system changes at the USGBC’s website until January 14, 2011.

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