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Design concept for the sustainable use of timber in structures

Yishu Niu, Ramon Hingorani, Jochen Köhler, Gerhard Fink

13th International Conference on Structural Safety & Reliability, ICOSSAR 2021-2022, Shanghai, September 2022

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The construction sector contributes significantly to climate change and energy consumption. The decarbonization can be facilitated when energy- and resource- intensive materials such as concrete is broadly replaced with renewable materials such as timber. An extensive utilisation of timber in structures demands carefully defined and compulsory applied design rules that maximize the value of the natural resource under consideration of environmental impacts. This largely exceeds the scope of the decision rules in current structural design codes, which have been conceived with the primary objective of sufficient safety. The paper stresses the usefulness of risk-informed optimization approaches for enhancing the decision scope of these rules with consideration of the environmental performance of structures. Taking widely implemented life cycle assessment approaches as a basis, it is discussed how existing optimization frameworks could be modified to this end, with emphasis on the global warming potential of timber structures.

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