Life cycle costing of metallic structures

L Gardner, R B Cruise, C P Sok, K Krishnan, J Ministro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (SciVal)


Structural material selection has traditionally been based on initial material cost. However, growing pressure on the construction industry to consider the longer term financial and environmental implications of projects is encouraging a more holistic view. Thus, materials with higher initial costs, but which offer cost savings over the life cycle of a structure, are gaining increasing recognition. The life cycle costs of structures of two such metallic materials, namely aluminium alloy and stainless steel, are compared to those of ordinary structural carbon steel in the present study. Two structural applications ? a typical office building and a bridge ? are analysed, whilst offshore applications are briefly discussed. The ratio of initial material cost per tonne was assumed to be 1.0: 2.5: 4.0 (carbon steel: aluminium alloy: stainless steel). Following a preliminary structural design to current European design standards taking due account of the material densities and structural properties (principally strength and stiffness), it was found that on an initial cost basis, carbon steel offers the most competitive solution for both the building and the bridge. However, considering the additional life cycle costs including maintenance costs, end of life costs and the residual value of the structure (appropriately discounted to capital cost), the results indicate that carbon steel offers the most competitive life cycle solution for the office building, but delivers the most expensive life cycle solution for the bridge. Overall, it is concluded that on a whole-life basis aluminium alloy and stainless steel may offer more competitive solutions than carbon steel for bridges and exposed areas of building structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering Sustainability
Issue numberES4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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