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SCI Annual Event 2021

Business Office, Corporate building London City, England

This year’s event focused on carbon and the climate emergency, coinciding with COP26. Whilst there have been many references to ‘blah blah blah’ associated with the latter, it was refreshing and very encouraging to hear what is happening in the UK steel construction sector. We started the presentations with a very thought provoking and inspiring message from Will Arnold (Institution of Structural Engineers) who noted that ‘as engineers we have more power than most to actually do something [about climate change]’. He added that if, and it is more than possible through ‘good’ design using knowledge we already possess, we reduce the amount of steel in a large building by 20% we can save ‘carbon’ that is the equivalent of 1000 flights to New York. A significant contribution would be made by using more informed values of loading – he noted that the level of imposed loading we normally design for corresponds to people standing jammed together and with another layer lying on top of them! We then heard from Walter Swann (Arcelor Mittal) and Sara Halliday (Severfield) about what a steel producer and a steelwork contractor are already doing and plan to do to reduce their carbon emissions. Generically, SCI’s Michael Sansom talked about a number of sector initiatives to measure, reduce and report carbon emissions.

The second part of the event included a series of presentations concerning design tools and services for the sector. Stuart Campbell (Trimble) gave an overview of the TEDDs product before Callum Heavens (SCI) described the philosophy behind, and examples of, specialist TEDDS modules that SCI are about to launch. The final presentation from Constantinos Kyprianou focused on services SCI offer regarding the fire and thermal performance of building details.

One of the reasons for developing our design tools is that so-called Generation 2 Eurocodes are on the way (approaching technical finalisation now, and currently anticipated to be published by BSI between 2026 and 2028). Whilst these codes will be easier to use through better harmonisation between parts (including standardised wording and format) and scope that better reflects modern practice, there is a tendency to greater complexity of some specific design rules and increased levels of safety (often at the price of less economical solutions). We at SCI therefore need to continue to produce industry ‘standard’ guidance that facilitates correct use of the new rules, and exploits the Eurocodes’ desire to not prevent expert users doing something more accurate than the code rules provide.

So joining the two parts of our event, at SCI we have a responsibility to help designers do the best job they can, and maintaining levels of safety whilst reducing the amount of material should clearly be a priority. Engineering is all about being ingenious, and we must apply what we know. So I would challenge all of us – are we doing what we can to mitigate climate change?

Recordings of all presentations are available here.

Thanks to our event sponsors: