Strategies for data-driven low carbon structural design.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today, every building material in a given context is associated to a carbon equivalent factor CO2e,
corresponding to its Global Warming Potential (GWP). The digitalization of the building industry has
facilitated the introduction of GWP assessment tools in the structural engineering practice. However, it
is rarely computed at early design stages, when changes with highest impact are made, as quantitative
volumetric and material information – ‘hard’ features – are still unavailable. This research uses machine
learning regression models and investigates alternative strategies to predict the GWP of a building
structure, using descriptive data available in competition briefs – “soft” features. To this end, we have
compared a linear regression model to 9 other regression methods, with different hypothesis and errors
functions. The models are ranked based on their predictive accuracy and residual plots. Despite the
limited data available, and preliminary results, an accuracy of 70% was reached and residuals had
relatively small standard deviations. This indicates that the models are functioning and proves the
potential of soft-feature based prediction of GWP. Moreover, a first sensitivity analysis of soft-feature
weights on calibrated models helped identify their relative impact on GWP. This understanding could
help guiding design decisions at early stages, and could be implemented into an interactive tool for data-
driven low carbon structural design.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2864
Pages (from-to)2895-2906
Number of pages12
JournalConference Proceedings of IASS/APCS 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2022
EventIASS symposium 2022: Innovation, Sustainability and Legacy - BEIJING / ONLINE, BEIJING , China
Duration: 19 Sep 202223 Sep 2022


  • structural design
  • carbon footprint
  • feature analysis
  • sustainable architecture
  • regression learning

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