Idaho civil engineers have a duty to respond to climate change. Civil engineers work in the natural environment, and the structures and features they build exist in the environment. Now and in the future, the design of structures needs to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
Here’s how low-carbon engineering can help Idaho business, governmental and institutional facilities reduce their emissions and practice better sustainability.
Why civil engineers should be concerned about climate change
Civil engineers have a major stake in the game when it comes to climate change in Idaho. Climate change results in events like precipitation, drought, flooding, fires and other disasters that impact infrastructures around the globe, including those in Idaho. It’s civil engineers who build this infrastructure.
Globally, the building industry creates about 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, the primary contributors to climate change. Civil engineers have a major role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and they need to work toward carbon benchmarks to reduce a building or structure’s overall carbon footprint.
How engineers can support sustainability and combat climate change
Since civil engineering impacts nearly every aspect of life, there are many ways civil engineers can make a commitment to sustainability, including:
- Emphasis on construction and materials: There’s a move toward greater circularity within construction, which can reduce carbon emissions and vehicle movements and increase capital cost savings and safety on the jobsite as well as prevent material scarcity.
- Energy: Engineers need to make informed decisions around energy and physical infrastructures. They need to integrate variable energy from renewable sources while minimizing energy loss and keeping the grid stable.
- Infrastructure: Transportation infrastructure is complex and integral to a functioning society. Unfortunately, it’s also the main contributor of carbon emissions. While many countries are investing in more sustainable transportation solutions, like high-speed rail, user behaviors need to be changed. It’s up to civil engineers to provide solutions and answer the big questions about how to create these changes in ways that aren’t always obvious.
It’s time for civil engineers to do things differently
Civil engineers need to get ready for some difficult conversations, especially those working on infrastructure projects. It’s going to be a difficult task to change behaviors and influence not just clients but also governments and infrastructure users.
Low carbon isn’t just something that’s nice to have—it’s now a necessity. Civil engineers need to think in terms of changing the behavior of themselves and those using infrastructure they’re designing. By treating the situation like an emergency and bringing carbon into every conversation, civil engineers can design and build with emissions in mind. Civil engineers need to offer alternatives, providing infrastructure that actively encourages shifts toward low-carbon behavior.
Ultimately, low-carbon engineering is the future of engineering in Idaho and all throughout the world, and everyone needs to work together. Learn more about sustainable engineering practices by reaching out to Mason & Associates today. We’re dedicated to helping our clients play a role in reducing climate change.