FUNDING: São Paulo-Princeton Strategic Partnership Grant

Energy consumption is a global strategic issue. With more than 50% of the human population living in growing urban areas, improving building-energy efficiency is a major challenge. The building sector accounts for approximately 40% of the world’s energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US building sector uses approximately 40% of the primary energy.  Of this energy, 75% is provided by fossil fuels, largely due to the energy required during construction phases. In Brazil, the building sector accounts for 45% of the national energy consumption. Therefore, it is important to investigate strategies for the design of urban infrastructure that will reduce energy consumption and C02 emissions.

By efficiently using materials required for construction, environmental and economic costs can be reduced. Lightweight structures describe structural systems for architectural applications that use as little material as possible to support the applied loads, therefore lowering costs. However, designing lightweight structures, such as cable and shell structures, is a challenging task:  the definition of their initial equilibrium shape often requires the use of experimental or computational methods, widely known as form-finding techniques. Our proposal focuses on a numerical method (form-finding and analysis algorithm) which promotes the design of efficient lightweight structures, therefore contributing to green engineering and sustainable design.