The crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are two of the most serious issues of our time. Our major infrastructure systems of transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications and flood defences play a major part, accounting for approximately half of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.
Our primary purpose has always been, and remains, enhancing society and well-being. While we have seen major improvements to practice over the last 20 years, for everyone working in the construction and infrastructure industries, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift.
Together with our clients, we will all need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructure systems as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system in balance with wider society and the natural world.
The research and technology exists for us to accelerate that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will in government and industry. We urgently need current best practice to become standard practice. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices and committing to create complete engineering outcomes that have more-positive impacts on the world around us.
We will strive to:
- Continue to raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients, collaborators and supply chains.
- Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.
- Apply, and further develop, climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as key measures of our industry’s success, demonstrated through rating systems, awards, prizes and listings.
- Extend the sharing of knowledge and research to these ends on an open source basis.
- Evaluate all new projects against the need to contribute positively to society and enhanced well-being, while simultaneously averting climate breakdown. Encourage our clients to adopt this approach – using the holistic approach of PAS2080 to reinforce sound decision-making.
- Upgrade existing built infrastructure systems for extended use as a more carbon-efficient alternative to demolition and new build when that is the most efficient solution for whole-life carbon.
- Include, as part of the basic scope of all our work, life cycle costing, whole-life carbon modelling and post-construction evaluation, to optimise and reduce embodied, operational and user carbon and other resource uses.
- Adopt more regenerative design principles in practice with the aim of providing civil engineering design that produces complete infrastructure systems that enable society to make the necessary changes to match the goals of the UK becoming a net zero economy by 2050.
- Extend, now, the consideration of whole-life carbon targets for all long-duration projects taking into account wider social, economic and environmental effects, to ensure delivery of the longer-term goals of this declaration.
- Apply a common cross-sector sustainability rating scheme, adopting the principles of CEEQUAL to all new projects whether or not they are formally assessed.
- Increase current levels of collaboration between clients, engineers, contractors and other professionals involved in the design and provision of complete infrastructure systems to further reduce waste during construction and operation of assets.
- Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
- Minimise wasteful use of resources in our civil engineering design, both in quantum and in detail.
We hope that every civil engineering firm operating in the UK will join us in making this commitment.