City Research Online

Structural design of reinforced concrete frames for minimum amount of concrete or embodied carbon

Mergos, P. E. ORCID: 0000-0003-3817-9520 (2024). Structural design of reinforced concrete frames for minimum amount of concrete or embodied carbon. Energy and Buildings, 318, article number 114505. doi: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2024.114505


In standard engineering practice, designers often aim to minimize the amount and volume of concrete in reinforced concrete (RC) frames by reducing the size of member cross-sections. This is done either for architectural reasons or because it is assumed to drive to more economic and environmentally friendly productions. The present study, for first time, compares the environmental footprint of RC frames designed for minimum concrete volume against designs for minimum embodied carbon. To serve this goal, six realistic 3D RC building frames are optimally designed for parametric values of the carbon factors of concrete and reinforcing steel materials. In this comparison, it is noticed that the carbon factors ratio R of reinforcing steel to concrete plays a key role. More particularly, it is found that for R ≤ 10 the designs for minimum concrete and carbon practically coincide. This is a useful observation since it signals a clear direction to designers to decrease concrete sections to achieve minimum environmental impact. Nevertheless, as R increases from 10, the two designs gradually deviate since the carbon footprint of rebars becomes more important. For high R values, the RC frames with the least amount of concrete may produce, on average, up to 40 % more embodied carbon than the most environmentally clean designs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Reinforced concrete, Frames, Embodied carbon, Structural optimization, Environmentally friendly
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TH Building construction
Departments: School of Science & Technology
School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Mergos_2024_R1_no_highlights.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 29 June 2025 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

To request a copy, please use the button below.

Request a copy


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login