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Last edited 27 Oct 2020
Structural Engineers' Climate Action
- Get informed – as a professional engineer you are obliged to develop your skills continuously.
- Design low carbon - track and reduce embodied carbon; rethink the materials you specify.
- Design lean - reduce the quantity of material; avoid over design.
- Design recycled – specify recycled materials and design to allow future re-use.
- Work with your client - influence your brief, develop a sustainability plan, seek opportunities to reduce new-build and maximise retention, adaption and extension of existing buildings
- Get active locally - work with other professionals to help each other, compare progress and learn.
 Get better informed about the climate emergency
- Understand the causes and consequences of carbon emissions for life on the planet.
- Recognise how structural engineering decisions have a direct impact on emissions and the harm they do.
- Understand how you, as a structural engineer, can reduce your professional carbon footprint TODAY.
- Look for information from organisations such as IPCC, CCC, UKGBC, IStructE, LETI and UK FIRES.
- Re-read the Structural Engineering Climate Emergency Declaration (https://www.structuralengineersdeclare.com/) and note the key commitments made.
- Make sure your firm has declared and that everyone knows what this means for them.
- Understand where construction activities create carbon emissions through material production, manufacturing and site activities.
- Understand how to measure carbon embodied in a structural design.
- Understand how to reduce embodied carbon through the material choices you make and the way you specify them.
- Select structural materials in ways that you know will reduce embodied carbon.
- Make controlling carbon in your design as important as controlling costs and ensuring safety.
- Make low-carbon important to your clients, team and supply chain.
- Information sources: LETI Embodied Carbon Primer; IStructE Principles for Assessing Embodied Carbon (being published soon).
- Design for the least material use whilst retaining safety and buildability.
- Make sure all components are designed for the least material use and are 100% utilised.
- Make sure design loads are fully appraised for the particular building context and use – do not design for unnecessarily high loads “just in case”.
- Consider future strengthening processes as a viable way to future-proof instead of over-design.
- Make sure the client understands that benefits of lean design in terms of cost and carbon.
- Apply cyclical practices for materials and design and build these into the project team's way of working.
- Seek to use recycled materials to their full in your material specifications and in the choice of components.
- Seek methods of fabrication and construction that allow easy deconstruction and re-use of materials at the end of life.
- Provide a structural sustainability report for your project that tracks sustainability targets agreed at the outset and targets achieved on the completion of the project.
- Inform your client about the changes in market expectations that will raise the value of low-carbon ethical construction and reduce the longer-term value of high-carbon construction.
- Seek out opportunities to retain and restore buildings instead of demolishing and replacing them.
- Understand how a development project could become an asset to the planet and regenerative (see https://living-future.org/lbc/).
 Be an active professional engineer
- Engage with the Institution.
- Share your successes and failures.
- Set up local professional groups to exchange information.
- Lobby your local MP for changes in taxation, planning and legislation.
- If you haven’t yet done so, declare a Climate Emergency (https://www.structuralengineersdeclare.com/)
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Architects Declare.
- A zero-carbon UK by 2050?
- Carbon footprint.
- Carbon negative.
- Carbon neutral.
- Climate Change Act.
- Climate Emergency Design Guide: How new buildings can meet UK climate change targets.
- Climate emergency.
- Low or zero carbon technologies.
- Nearly zero-energy building.
- Net zero carbon 2050.
- Net zero carbon building.
- What we need for the journey to net-zero carbon emissions.
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