Arup, the global firm of designers, planners, and engineers, used the Athena Impact Estimator to compare the environmental impacts of two structural system options for the roof of a new terminal at Raleigh-Durham International Airport

ID=926 :: post_name=raleigh-durham-airport-terminal-2 :: post_title=Raleigh-Durham Airport :: post_status=publish :: post_type=page :: post_category=Array

Raleigh-Durham Airport Terminal 2

Year: 2011
Architect: Fentress Bradburn
Structural Engineer: Arup, New York
Sustainability Consulting: Arup, San Francisco
Project location: RDU Airport, North Carolina

Impact Estimator Results:
The project was the phased replacement of the existing Terminal C with a new terminal building to be known as Terminal 2. The purpose of the study was to compare the environmental footprint of different structural options for the roof. The Athena Impact Estimator was chosen for several reasons: quick calculation at the concept stage; eight environmental indicators, not just Global Warming Potential (GWP); transparency via materials reports; cost; US-specific impact factors; and the fact that Athena is such a well-established non-profit research institute.

The engineering team verified that a glulam structural system led to fewer environmental burdens. This statement was based on Impact Estimator results that showed the glulam structural system had significant savings in embodied energy and embodied global warming potential over an alternate system, specifically –

  • absolute energy savings of 5,600 MWh, equivalent to the electricity use of 500 homes over 1 year or 23 days of operational energy use for the terminal; and
  • absolute GWP savings of 1,000 t CO2e, equivalent to one year of taking 200 cars off the road or 210 acres of forest carbon sequestration potential.

The Impact Estimator provided valuable additional information on the impact that material selection has on ozone depletion and smog potential; this will allow Arup staff to engage with manufacturers of wood products even more knowledgably on future projects.

“The options in the Impact Estimator and transparency of Athena’s tools allowed us to customize our calculation to best suit the project’s unusual structural system,” said Frances Yang, Arup.


Photos courtety of Arup.