Brenda  Stern

Brenda Stern

Scholar Title

MIT CEE Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar

Research Title

Life Cycle Carbon Emissions for Low-Energy Buildings




John Ochsendorf


There is a growing emphasis on energy efficient design within the structural engineering field, but current work focuses on operational energy. Though analysis has shown that embodied carbon can increase as a result of decreasing operational energy, databases of embodied carbon in structural systems are still being completed. LEED Version 4 now contains a credit for a Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis, which included embodied carbon, but without complete databases, it is difficult to have baselines to determine the standing of a new building in regard to its embodied carbon. This work will review how LEED determines baseline buildings, contribute to the database by measuring and benchmarking steel structures, and analyze how LEEDs results compare against those of the database.


Previously, I researched in the Concrete Sustainability Hub. Im excited that this research will let me continue to be involved in sustainable structural design. In previous architecture classes I have taken, the focus was on operational energy usage in buildings, while civil engineering classes focused on concrete as a structural material. This research will help me learn more about the collaboration between the fields.

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