Calculating embodied carbon for reused structural components with laser scanning

Brandon Byers, Matthew Gordon, Ornella Luorio, Catherine De Wolf

The global warming potential (GWP) of reused building elements can be evaluated based on two variables: structural material quantity (SMQ) and embodied carbon coefficient (ECC). The volume of the SMQ can often be unknown, however, and it is not clear how to best estimate the ECC of a reused element. This paper illustrates a method for extracting the volume of reused metal structural elements to calculate their GWP in buildings that lack documentation. The authors use laser scanning and voxelization to extract the volume and a method based on the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) 2032 norms for calculating the GWP of reused materials. The reality capture method is accurate enough to approximate structural material volume, although it requires exposed structures. The results are important for building managers to understand the relative environmental impact savings from reused versus new building elements.

Want to stay up to date?

Sign up to our mailing list to receive regular updates on the most exciting news, research, case studies, and events related to sustainable design.