Engineers Lead Drive to Cut Carbon Consumption And Build Sustainably

Resources from nearly three and half planets will be required to meet the demands of the human race if the global pattern of consumption continues, claimed Wales engineers last week.

20th May 2009

Resources from nearly three and half planets will be required to meet the demands of the human race if the global pattern of consumption continues, claimed Wales engineers last week.

With huge amounts of energy wasted by the built environment that starting point for a change is being driven by Welsh engineers.  At a joint event held by the CIWEM and Constructing Excellence in Wales (held last Thursday, 14 May), civil and environmental engineers agreed that they have a central role to play in combating carbon emissions and confirmed that the time for action is now.

Welsh engineers have promised to use their influence in the planning, design and structure of buildings and facilities to address the sustainability issues facing Wales as it aims to create an environmentally friendly infrastructure for Wales.  They have committed to take a more radical in approach and focus on the dangers of over consumption and poor design, recognising that mankind only has one planet and finite resources.

It was agreed that taking an integrated approach to design and construction from day one is imperative. Engineers can maximise on the opportunities that exist if people are given the freedom to be creative and to challenge the existing norms. In this way resources can be managed better and more sustainable solutions taken advantage of.

“Engineers have a pivotal role in addressing sustainability in delivering infrastructure on which the whole of society is built.  By encouraging a fresh creative approach we can do this.  We will need to work with schools and colleges to encourage this approach through training and education,” said Sally Sudworth, CIWEM Welsh branch past chair and Halcrow director.  “We will be responding to the call to engage more with the public and to provide the leadership that industry is calling for and CIWEM looks forward to linking with Constructing Excellence in Wales in doing this.”

The goal of the event was to establish a baseline for the industry and identify some key actions that can be taken forward to make an effective difference.

  • Take an integrated approach to design and construction – including the procurement process
  • Bolt on fixes at the end of the design process is not the answer.
  • Use the CEEQUAL civil engineering award system alongside BREEAM to drive behavioural changes
  • Lobby for better legislation – Government must drive change
  • Support the Carbon Reduction Commitment to make it effective in driving down CO2 emissions.
  • Adopt low carbon measures in respective organisations and projects now

Jane Davidson AM, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing gave a key note talk, referring to One Wales: One Planet, which highlighted the importance of creating an infrastructure for the Welsh economy that is truly sustainable.

Ms Davidson said, “The built environment is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases in Wales.  The way in which we construct and use our homes and other buildings accounts for 40% of our total carbon emissions.  It is vital that all our new buildings are energy efficient and as green as possible.  We all believe early action is needed, and this event confirms Wales’s commitment to do all we can to tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint.  Diverse groups from all over Wales are ready to use their voice and powers to help Wales reduce its carbon footprint.”