The environmental and economic impact of structural optimization

Abstract

According to the well-known mathematician Leonhard Euler: “Nothing takes place within the universe in which the rule of maximum or minimum does not appear.” The development of optimization algorithms can be traced back to the days of Kepler, Newton, Lagrange and Cauchy and the concept of minimization much earlier to the days of Euclid. However, despite these early developments, very little progress on their use was achieved until the middle of twentieth century when digital computers made possible the application of the optimization algorithms and motivated further research, producing massive literature on the subject and development of new optimization techniques. Nevertheless, professional structural engineers and practitioners are highly sceptical in adopting such procedures in their professional life, while software applications implementing optimization techniques fall short of meeting their needs. Therefore, in this study the question that I will try to answer from an environmental and economic perspective is: “Is it worth performing structural optimization studies?” and will aim to prove that adopting optimization based design procedures will have drastic environmental impact and contribute on the economic development of the construction industry.

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Acknowledgements

This research has been supported by the OptArch project: “Optimization Driven Architectural Design of Structures” (No: 689983) belonging to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) H2020-MSCA-RISE-2015.

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Correspondence to Nikos D. Lagaros.

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Responsible Editor: Ming Zhou

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Lagaros, N.D. The environmental and economic impact of structural optimization. Struct Multidisc Optim 58, 1751–1768 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00158-018-1998-z

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Keywords

  • Structural optimization
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Structural engineering practice
  • Material usage
  • Environmental and economic impact