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The consulting engineering industry’s role in delivering a sustainable society


Canadian consulting engineers have an ethical obligation to meet the challenges posed by sustainability. Engineers must have a comprehensive understanding of the downstream consequences of design and construction activities. They also need to know the issues and goals that are largely under their control and the client’s objectives to factor them into project deliverables.

1. Without major changes in engineering design, society will not achieve sustainability.

This puts the consulting engineering industry in a key role to deliver a sustainable future. 

Why: Success of a sustainable project rests upon the consulting engineering firm’s ability to know, understand, and integrate societal issues into the project design in a sensible and sensitive manner that meets societal needs and respects social values. 

2. The industry has a similar key role in delivering mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Society looks to our industry to deliver two types of answers to this challenge:

   1. Mitigation (reduction in greenhouse gas release)

2. Adaptation (reduction in impact of more extreme climate conditions on human ecology)


A new challenge posed by adaptation to climate change

Adaptation to the realities of climate change brings a different kind of engineering problem. New designs must now rely on climate prediction rather than history, which to date is a much less certain and specific basis for design. As a result, new projects will require greater factors of safety to achieve the same security and the projects will be more expensive than those in the past.