A Closer Look At Structural Engineering
What, you may ask, is structural engineering exactly? Well, if you break it down it seems pretty simple: it’s the engineering of structures. Obviously, the full answer is a little more complicated than that (or people wouldn’t study for years upon years to become structural engineers!), and we like to be really clear about what our business is all about. So, we’re taking a closer look at structural engineering as a whole, as well as the services we offer here at Crown Jade Design & Engineering, where we do a whole lot more than your average engineering firm.
Structural Engineering: The Basics
According to sources familiar with the subject, Structural Engineering is a subspecialty within Civil Engineering. Structural engineers create drawings and specifications, perform calculations, review the work of other engineers, write reports and evaluations, and observe construction sites. Structural engineers work on larger structures such as homes, modern business offices and other commercial buildings, skyscrapers, and the like.
A specific Professional Engineer’s License is required in order to practice Structural Engineering, which requires completing a prescribed amount of education and real-world work experience (practical application). Some states have additional specific requirements of Structural Engineers, such as California, which requires a Structural Engineer’s license.
Structural engineers create structures based on the relationship of physical forces to force-resisting elements. The easiest way to think of this is in terms of the physical force gravity. Gravity is always, at all times, trying to pull things closer to the Earth’s surface, at a rate of 9.8m/s2 all over the planet. A structural engineer’s job is to create structures that will withstand this force (and many others, as well) so as to ensure the structure stays upright.
Analysis and design are the processes by which structural engineers estimate these forces (analysis) and create structures that will provide enough resistance to them to maintain their shape and form for decades, even centuries. Most practicing structural engineers design and analyze buildings, bridges, power plants, electrical towers, dams, and other large structures, and require considerably greater analysis and design than simply accounting for gravity (though it’s important to do that, too). Wind, weather, freezing or scorching temperatures and, of course, whatever the structure is being used for are all additional factors that must be accounted for in their planning.
Interestingly, the history of structural engineering dates back to at least 2700 BC, when the architect Imhotep built the step pyramid for Pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep was the first architect to be known by name as an architect. Pyramids were the most common major structures of this time because the form is inherently stable, and can be scaled almost infinitely (other structures generally are not scalable.)
Another notable engineering feat from antiquity that is still used today is the Qanat water management system, which was developed in the time of the Medes, who preceded the Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran, the site of the Persian Empire, still boasts the longest (>71 km) and oldest (>3000 years) Qanat in history.
What Sets Us Apart From The Rest
While structural engineering firms abound, we like to set our standards a bit higher than everyone else. At Crown Jade Design & Engineering you will find an abundance of highest-quality, dedicated structural engineers. Our engineers go further than most, and as a result, Crown Jade is proud to offer the following:
- We can assist you in fine tuning your existing plans. We know we’re not the only engineers in the world, but we can sure help you improve on your existing ideas..
- We produce floor plans and 3D elevation schematics. We make these part of our offerings so that we can get your structure dialed in perfectly, and we come at these plans with an architect’s mastery.
- We analyze frame and structure design. Others’ frame and structural designs may be just fine, and if we’re going to work with them, we provide this analysis as a tool to ensure everything is going to fit together and flow systemically.
- We develop structural plans. We are, at our core, structural engineers, so we absolutely develop structural plans as needed for your project.
We are also experts in alternative housing methods, or green building methods as they’ve come to be known. Green building involves using geology, weather patterns, and sustainable materials to develop structural designs. The guiding force behind these plans involves increasing the efficiency of using all the resources involved to reduce building impacts on the health of both humans and the environment around us during the life-cycle of the building.
Different kinds of building materials are often utilized for green building. Materials we’re familiar with include:
- Logs or timber: Lumber is a fairly renewable resource, with some woods being more favorable than others for their quick growth cycles. Local lumber is best so that you don’t impact the environment with a massive shipping cost incursion to build your green home.
- Straw bales: Straw bale construction makes for great insulation and relatively cheap building costs.
- Insulated concrete forms: Also a great source of insulation and a highly permanent solution for building. These homes will last virtually forever!
- Structural insulated panels (Insulated foam panels): Structural insulated panels have been gaining a lot of traction over the past 50 years due to their rigidity and sturdiness surpassing wood’s. These are similar to, but not the same as, insulated concrete forms.
- Rammed Earth: Rammed earth structures, due to their solidity and use of local materials, are some of the most sustainable structures around. They’ve also been around for centuries, and we just continue to improve on the work of our ancestors.
- Toxicant free: Toxicant-free materials are a great way to increase the sustainability of new homes or in remodeling older homes. Getting chemically-treated, toxic materials out of the structure and disposing of them safely while replacing them with materials that aren’t treated with toxic chemicals is a great way to renovate.
From a structural engineering standpoint, green building is exciting. It uses a lot of new and innovative thinking, like incorporating the placement of structures on a property based on where the sun will be hitting them at certain hours of the day to maximize the use of things like solar panels and passive solar heating. It involves a lot of outside-of-the-box approaches and the industry is booming — more and more innovations are being introduced all the time. At Crown Jade Engineering, we’re proud to be at the forefront of this exciting and eco-friendly building trend.
We offer, of course, all of the services offered by any traditional structural engineering firm — and a few extras, too. Check out our service offerings here: