It was not so long ago that carbon was yet to make it onto the agenda for design team meetings at the outset of new engineering projects. Yet within the last five years, it has skyrocketed in significance to sit atop the priority list of almost every project engineers are engaged on.
With COP27 now concluded it is so important that discussions held and commitments made lead to meaningful outcomes which both mitigate the impact of our changing climate, and support those communities where we are too late and adaptation is the only option.
Climate change has in turn irrevocably changed the role of engineers forever due to the requirement across the built environment to reduce the embodied and operational carbon within infrastructure and buildings.
Carbon now joins quality, cost and time as the core considerations for projects and has led to an inevitable shift in how both clients and engineers approach projects from inception to completion.
For instance, the advice of engineers on designs is now being sought from the initial planning stages of projects, rather than later in the process. The City of London, for example, now requires pre-planning carbon optioneering assessments for all projects. Four different options need to be tabled and clients require good quality technical advice from the outset of a project.
Effective use of data in the early stages of projects can only benefit the decision-making process and lead to better outcomes, reconciling the differing objectives of various engineering and environmental disciplines.
This greater focus on analysing, quantifying and modelling of carbon data has brought technology to the fore in the day-to-day role of engineers; so, the knowledge needed to proactively advise clients on the operation and embed carbon implications of different design choices and how more sustainable materials can be applied to respond to any given challenge are required.