The World Engineering Partnership for Sustainable Development (WEPSD) and the World Commission on Environment and Development have spearheaded the Earth Charter, an international agreement that provides guidelines for creating global sustainability for promoting world peace, human rights and biodiversity.
Companies, goverments and NGOs are getting on board and trying to find ways of integrating sustainability into their thinking and implementation processes. For example, the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (IABSE) recently devoted an issue of its Structural Engineering International to sustainable engineering design.
At the same time, sustainable engineering programs are sprouting up on college campuses across the world from undergraduate to graduate programs and the term “Sustainability Engineer” is being championed as a new type of engineering professional who helps teams of engineers find more innovative, efficient and affordable solutions to engineering challenges. Another professional designation, Sustainable Systems Engineer (SSE) focuses on helping organizations manage complex systems their impact on water, land, air, energy, economics, and society.
The main goal is for sustainability engineers is to promote and manage “ecoefficiency” by maximizing both economic gain, and environmental performance and sustainability. One area of focus is the construction industry and the built environment which contribute the largest percentage to total global CO2 emissions. Civil and structural engineers are now working to improve the sustainability of construction by increasing the life of existing structures while improving the sustainability of new structures.
For more on the differences between unsustainable and sustainable engineering, see Sustainable Engineering: Resource Load Carrying Capacity and K-Phase Technology.
The following video is “Engineering a Sustainable Future” by Lockheed Martin (LM). LM identifies 15 areas engineers will have to focus on to put the world on a sustainable path:
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