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Last edited 20 May 2017
The challenge of adapting building technology to the environment has been one that has faced all civilisations. Throughout history, civilisations have had to provide reliable sources of clean water, dispose of waste, prevent soil contamination and pollution of the air.
Environmental engineering is concerned with applying engineering principles to the protection of the environment and human populations from environmental hazards. Environmental engineering aims to optimise the use of natural resources, maximise the use of materials, and develop renewable energy sources and remediation techniques to improve environmental conditions.
One of history’s most celebrated environmental engineers is Joseph Bazalgette, who oversaw the construction of the first large-scale municipal sewer system in mid-19th century London. This was vital as a means of preventing cholera outbreaks due to sewage contamination of the Thames River. As a more modern example, environmental engineers have been tasked by leaders in China to try and provide remedial measures to tackle the pervasive and life-threatening problem of smog in cities such as Beijing.
Broadly, the areas that are involved in environmental engineering include:
- Energy preservation.
- Waste management.
- Public and industrial health and sanitation.
- Waste water management.
- Pollution control.
- Environmental sustainability.
- Remediation of existing contamination.
- Environmental impact assessment.
Environmental engineers measure, model, control and simulate types of environment as a means of providing solutions and designing systems. They often work closely with government bodies to develop regulations for industry.
Some of the responsibilities of an environmental engineer include:
- Preparing, reviewing and updating environmental investigation reports.
- Designing project solutions for protecting the environment.
- Maintaining and updating plans, permits and standard operating procedures.
- Monitoring and reporting on the progress of environmental improvement programmes.
- Carrying out inspections to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
- Providing advice to companies and government agencies about remedial procedures for contaminated sites.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Civil engineer.
- Construction environmental management plan.
- Contaminated land.
- Cover systems for land regeneration - thickness of cover systems for contaminated land (BR465).
- Ecological impact assessment.
- Engineering Council.
- Environmental consultant.
- Environmental impact assessment.
- Environmental modelling.
- How to become a civil engineer.
- Project engineer.
- Structural engineer.
 External resources
- Live Science - Environmental engineering
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