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Seismic design of reinforced concrete frames for minimum embodied CO2 emissions

Mergos, P.E. (2018). Seismic design of reinforced concrete frames for minimum embodied CO2 emissions. Energy and Buildings, 162, pp. 177-186. doi: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2017.12.039


Optimum structural design of reinforced concrete (RC) frames has been the focus of extensive research. Typically, previous studies set economic cost as the main design objective despite the fact that RC structures are major contributors of CO2 emissions. The limited number of studies examining optimum design of RC frames for minimum CO2 emissions do not address seismic design considerations. However, in many countries around the world, including most of the top-10 countries in CO2 emissions from cement production, RC structures must be designed against earthquake threat. To bridge this gap, the present study develops optimum seismic designs of RC frames for minimum cradle to gate embodied CO2 emissions and compares them with optimum designs based on construction cost. The aim is to identify efficient design practices that minimize the environmental impact of earthquake-resistant RC frames and examine the trade-offs between their cost and CO2 footprint. To serve this goal, an RC frame is optimally designed according to all ductility classes of Eurocode 8 and for various design peak ground accelerations (PGAs), concrete classes and materials embodied CO2 footprint scenarios. It is found that the minimum feasible CO2 emissions of RC frames strongly depend on the adopted ductility class in regions of high seismicity, where low ductility seismic design can generate up to 60% more CO2 emissions than designs for medium and high ductility. The differences reduce, however, as the level of seismicity decreases. Furthermore, CO2 emissions increase significantly with the design PGA. On the other hand, they are less sensitive to the applied concrete class. It is also concluded that, for medium to high values of the ratio of the unit environmental impact of reinforcing steel to the respective impact of concrete, the minimum CO2 seismic designs are very closely related to the minimum cost designs. However, for low values of the same ratio, the minimum cost design solutions can generate up to 13% more emissions than the minimum CO2 designs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Seismic design; Eurocode 8; environment; embodied; CO2 emissions; optimization; reinforced concrete; genetic algorithms
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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