Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals
Unit 3 - Preparing to Walk the Talk
9: Rethinking the Application of Engineering Principles
To discuss the need to rethink the way we apply
engineering principles to solve problems. This need
is being increasingly recognised by engineering
institutions, scientific communities, the corporate
sector and government organisations around the world.
For sustainable engineering solutions to occur,
we need to reconsider engineering curricula, problem
scoping methodologies and role descriptions in the
Lecture 10: Creating Value from Sustainable
To provide the argument to present to a CEO or company
board convincing them that efficiency and sustainable
development, as well as being the right thing to
do, can also be highly profitable. While many business
people now understand the basic business case for
improved efficiency what is provided here is an
overview of some of the most important studies proving
that what is good for the environment can be good
for the bottom line too.
Lecture 11: A Whole of Society Approach
There is much that engineers, built environment
professionals, and business people can do to achieve
sustainable development by supporting the efforts
of government and even leading the way for government
initiatives to follow. Here we will present ways
in which governments can contribute to the transition
to a more sustainable society. Engineers and built
environment professionals should play key roles
in assisting governments to provide reliable information
on engineering related matters now and in the future.
Lecture 12: Effective Communication
When considering a whole of society approach, it
is essential to have a strategy to deal with the
myriad of stakeholder groups that may be represented
in a given project. Strategic Questioning is provided
as an example of an effective communication mechanism
that can facilitate ‘contextually sensitive’
positive outcomes for projects and decision makers.
The multi-stakeholder engagement work by Alan AtKisson
is also presented as an example of an engagement
The engineering profession will play
a significant part in moving society to a more sustainable
way of life. Recognising this, the Engineering Sustainable
Solution Program (ESSP) seeks to provide engineers
and built environment professionals with a basic
understanding of sustainability issues and opportunities
as they relate to their practice. The ESSP is designed
to facilitate the effective incorporation of key
pieces of information, or ‘critical literacies’,
relating to sustainability into engineering curricula
and capacity building. This program provides an
alert to sustainability principles and activity
in the engineering profession.
In the preparation of any education program, and
in particular an introductory course, it is a challenge
to cover all possible questions or uncertainties
that may arise during delivery of the material.
In response to this challenge, this program will
be supported (in its critical academic rigour and
structure) by engineering related material in the
publication, The Natural Advantage of Nations,
and its companion web site (www.naturaledgeproject.net)
along with other key texts.
K. and Smith, M.H. (2005) The Natural Advantage
of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and
Governance in the 21st Century, Earthscan,
Text Book along with each of the units has an online
companion to provide additional supporting material.
Optional reading material is provided after each
lecture for those who wish to explore the content
in more detail.
The development of the Engineering Sustainable
Solutions Program – Critical Literacies
Portfolio has been supported by grants from the
Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences,
Natural Sciences Sector (with particular support
and mentoring from Tony Marjoram, Senior Programme
Specialist - Engineering Sciences, and Françoise
The Institution of Engineers Australia, College
of Environmental Engineers (with particular
support and mentoring from Martin Dwyer, Director
Engineering Practice, and Peter Greenwood, Doug
Jones, Andrew Downing, Tim Macoun, Julie Armstrong
and Paul Varsanyi).
The Society for Sustainability and Environmental
Engineering (with particular support and mentoring
from Terrence Jeyaretnam).
Expert review and mentoring has been received from
Janine Benyus and Dayna Baumeister, The Biomimicry
Guild (USA); Paul Anastas, Green Chemistry Institute
(USA); Alan Pears RMIT University (AUS); Amory Lovins,
Rocky Mountain Institute (USA); Tom Conner, KBR
(AUS); and Mia Kelly, TNEP Working Group (AUS).
We would like to add a special thank you to the
Engineers Australia review panel Trevor Daniell,
Thomas Brinsmead and David Hood.
Smith, M., Hargroves, K. and Paten, C. (2007) Engineering
Sustainable Solutions Program: Critical Literacies
Portfolio, The Natural Edge Project, Australia
Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National
for UNESCO through the International Relations
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and