Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2013

Sustainability Committee

Sustainability Committee - A Sustainable Future

By: Kevin M Roberson, P.E., LEED AP, CPESC

In most editions of professional organizations magazines you find at least one reference to sustainability and its importance on our society’s future.  References might range from sustainable / green products, rating systems, or project examples.  Sustainability should be at the core of our thoughts and designs.

As referenced in the July 2013 ASCE sustainability article, we all have an opportunity to play a role in increasing the visibility of sustainable components in our projects.  The article outlined some great ideas and opportunities for all of us to contribute.  It will take everyone moving sustainability to the forefront of their design process to fully integrate these principles.

This movement will not be successful with reading articles and enlightenment alone.  Consultants are competing for projects typically based on RFP requirements.  Municipalities, state and federal government stakeholders and private land developers have a great opportunity to further sustainability by requiring it in their RFPs.  In private industry, sustainability is being driven by municipalities, state and federal government requiring buildings to be LEED rated or the green building code requiring green elements to be incorporated on privately owned sites.  Water quality requirements are pushing infiltration and other forms of green storm water treatment solutions. These types of requirements are forcing engineers in land development to integrate sustainability into their design.  Similar strides need to be made on the public side of engineering.  Publicly funded infrastructure projects should be required to be designed using one of the 3 infrastructure rating systems – Envision, Greenroads or Invest.  That will give more people exposure to the process and products.  As more products are being specified then material costs should decrease and the competition will create better products.  Also as more people are exposed to the concepts and begin to design them then the fear factor should decrease and we should see more consistent use of applications and more success stories.

The following article was published in the October edition of ASCE’s “Civil Engineering” magazine. On August 20, 2013 in Jakarta Indonesia, ASCE joined nine other members of the Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council in signing an agreement that calls upon the civil engineering community to take the lead in delivering sustainable infrastructure.  The protocol acknowledges among other things that civil engineers have an obligation ‘to protect cultural and natural diversity central to the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of infrastructure networks that underpin civil society and economic activity and protect human health and welfare.

Sustainability is taking a strong hold in societies worldwide.  This can no longer be viewed as a fad that might soon disappear.  This applies to consultants and stake holders alike.  We as civil engineers have an obligation to integrate sustainability in our society and future generations are relying upon our actions.  Please do your part in creating a sustainable future.

Related Groups/Committees