As climate change and carbon counting becomes more prominent in the construction industry, I wanted to share my thoughts about the challenges faced in our profession.
While institutions such as the IStructE are doing good work to promote the high-level key issues around tackling climate change, I believe engineers have the ability to influence matters at a grass roots level stemming from our technical knowledge - the essence of engineering. Every decision made in the life of a project, from the design of basic members to guiding a client in terms of overall structure can be partially attributed to this technical knowledge that we have together with a duty to maintain and continually develop.
Our understanding of construction methods and materials will need to improve in the coming years if we are to stand any chance of making significant reductions in structural carbon usage.
Traditional methods of construction and good practice will remain vital, but our technical expertise in developing innovative and more efficient solutions will play a key role. Simply copying past designs and material specifications will not lead to any meaningful change. Every aspect of a project upon which we, as engineers, have influence must be challenged and further developed. A thorough understanding of relevant and current design standards and methodologies is a must, but this needs to be supported by research into modern solutions - taking an inquisitive approach rather than a complacent one.
No engineer wants an unsafe design that may cause harm or damage property, but all of our past actions have contributed to just that on a large scale. With the knowledge we hold do we not have an obligation to avoid the same mistakes?