Student looking for topic to research

Hey community! My name is Chris and I am a Junior in a Civil Engineering program at SUNY Farmingdale. This semester I was fortunate to land in a class with a very eager and exciting professor. He inspired me to begin my own research project and said that whatever I choose to do it on, he can guide me. I figure, since I have another year here at the school, I might as well use these great resources!

I would like to think of one of the major issues in construction/engineering that contributes negatively to our environment and try to solve it! I will have free lab access and the guidance of my professor. So, as of today I am reaching out to people I know as well as communities such as this one.

Does anybody have any ideas on a good problem to try and tackle? For example, I was thinking along the lines of using recyclables as aggregate for concrete mix but I know this is kind of already being done. I give this as an example to make you guys/girls aware of the general direction I am trying to head in. I am excited for this opportunity to use my growing education to tackle a real world problem, any advice/ideas are welcome!

Thanks community!


Hi Christopher,

First off, I am not an engineer but have been a structural technician for 27 years now, coupled with ongoing research and advocacy for sustainable design. Lately I have been involved with developing best practice for Whole Building LCA and integration into our existing process.
The one area that I have consistently NOT seen research on is the re-use of structural steel framing members. Specifically, we cannot develop a market within the Circular Economy for steel framing coming out of buildings as they are demolished without code compliant testing methods. Subsequently, there is little incentive to develop Design for Deconstruction protocols and the idea of circularity within that market grinds to a halt.
Reusing framing in renovation design seems fairly robust and of course recycling is always an option but a lot of energy could be saved if we had an accurate, simple, inexpensive testing method that could be widely distributed.

Best of luck on whatever research you decide on.


Patrick Doss-Smith

Hi! - It would be very interesting to look carbon emissions of parking garages within buildings above ground vs underground parking and how much of that carbon is concrete vs excavation. Or perhaps how much is A1-A3 vs A4 and A5.

So many commercial buildings unfortunately still have parking structures, and if we can’t convince clients to minimize/remove them, it would be great to push them towards the best option and help them understand the impact through robust data.



I want to express how pleased I am with the quick responses I received for my topic. This Carbon Leadership Forum is a great place for like-minded people to share ideas. Thank you to Kathleen and Patrick for your ideas, I will let you all know the inevitable path my research takes and I will keep you posted on any promising outcomes!

@kathleen.hetrick - I have a detailed LCA of a parking garage that I might be able to share if I anonymize enough info. Let me know if you’re interested.

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@chiarochristopher - Hi Chris!

Looking at aggregate isn’t a terrible idea. The carbon footprint directly related to aggregate is pretty small compared to the other components in concrete. Advances in Supplementary Cement Materials (SCM) might be more worthwhile, IMO. Or even alternatives to concrete for typical concrete applications.

I’d also like to know more about manufacturing facilities turning to on-site renewable energy for their manufacturing processes.


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@chiarochristopher - exciting to see your interest on the topic and proactive engagement of this community! Kudos to you. I like the ideas put forward, but would throw in whole life carbon (operational & embodied) analysis of envelope retrofit. Like digging into the type of analysis that the CARE tool does but for a specific building typology or location perhaps. Lots of movement in the UK around retrofit of housing, for example (ref. RIBA, ACAN)! It’s an exciting time to be studying this work! Let us know what you find!

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Would love to see more research in hemp, and with the announcement of $1billion in grants this may be a great time to do a project. is a great resource to help give you ideas and link you into a great network of hemp builders, processors etc. Fireproof, mold proof, temp control building materials and more to be discovered… like building luge and bob sled runs at the Olympics incorporating Hemp Fibers. Good luck with whatever you do!

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Scott, if you’re anonymizing a Tally report and you’re running into trouble getting rid of the model and workset names, let me know. The more models we can get out there the better.

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@jschwartzhoff - we unfortunately don’t have the luxury of using Tally, as consultants, I’ve found it difficult to use REVIT since we have no control over the actual model.

I have a full blown executive summary and report written for the parking garage LCA, using our own content/charts/graphics/etc.

Awesome ideas! I will definitely keep you guys posted. I am currently working with two professors and getting together a team of other students, its going to be interesting! Going to run these ideas by all of them and get a consensus

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I am a research Scholar, in India doing LCA of building structure and envelope of Green rated commercial office buildings in north India composite climate. These building usually have 3-4 levels of basement parking. Could you please share your report with me. It would be very useful.

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send me an email,


I would be interested in seeing your report as well. I’m with the planning department in one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the California Central Valley. Tackling automobile reliance and associated parking impacts via local laws & regulations in my municipality is akin to ideological warfare.

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Derek -

Email me at

I’m trying to figure out a way to easily distribute this information. The project is confidential, so it needs to be thoroughly scrubbed/anonymized.

I have a whole file of ideas because I am teaching a course on the subject. Please email me at fredabernstein…