Principles and Practices in Sustainable Development for the Engineering and Built Environment Professions
Unit 1 - Redefining Roles
1: The Critical Role of Engineering
To build on from the material covered in of The
Role of Engineering in Sustainable Development A
by outlining in more detail the historical changes
and trends that have led to the call for sustainable
development, and to introduce some of the most critical
global efforts, conferences and publications that
have informed the discussion. To further help engineers
understand the critical role they play to the achievement
of sustainable development.
Lecture 2: Rethinking the Application
of Engineering Design
To reflect on the need to rethink the way engineering
design is used to solve problems. Although engineering
achievements have usually addressed and solved one
problem, they have unfortunately often created several
other problems within the system. Engineering institutions,
scientific communities, the corporate sector and
government are recognising the need to change the
design scope; now seeking to design for sustainability/environment.
Lecture 3: Broadening the Problem Definition
To discuss the scale and speed society needs to
work at to reduce its negative impact on the global
environment and improve resource productivity to
prevent further overshoot of ecological thresholds.
To also define the types of performance targets
engineers will need to help society achieve in order
to ensure development is sustainable.
Lecture 4: Innovation to Achieve Factor
In order to take advantage of opportunities for
innovation and deliver sustainable solutions, a
shift must be achieved in the way engineers design
and implement projects. But also there is much government
and R&D bodies can do as well to ensure that
all future research into new technologies seeks
to ensure these will be sustainable technologies.
Engineers leadership in sustainability would be
greatly assisted if governments, R&D bodies,
business and engineers worked together to work out
how best they can achieve innovations of Factor
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