A taste of best practice in engineering sustainable solutions

Smith, Michael, Hargroves, Karlson, Palousis, Nick, & Desha, Cheryl (2005) A taste of best practice in engineering sustainable solutions. In National Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Conference 2005, 18 -19 July 2005, Sydney, N.S.W. (Unpublished)


This paper asks the question to what scale and speed does society need to reduce its ecological footprint and improve resource productivity to prevent further overshoot and return within the ecological limits of the earth’s ecological life support systems? How fast do these changes need to be achieved? The paper shows that now a large range of studies find that engineering sustainable solutions need to be roughly an order or magnitude resource productivity improvement (sometimes called a Factor of 10, or a 90% reduction) by 2050 to achieve real and lasting ecological sustainability. This marks a significant challenge for engineers – indeed all designers and architects, where best practice in engineering sustainable solutions will need to achieve large resource productivity targets.

The paper brings together examples of best practice in achieving these large targets from around the world. The paper also highlights key resources and texts for engineers who wish to learn how to do it. But engineers need to be realistic and patient. Significant barriers exist to achieving Factor 4-10 such as the fact that infrastructure and technology rollover and replacement is often slow. This slow rollover of the built environment and technology is the context within which most engineers work, making the goal of achieving Factor 10 all the more challenging. However, the paper demonstrates that by using best practice in engineering sustainable solutions and by addressing the necessary market, information and institutional failures it is possible to achieve Factor 10 over the next 50 years.

This paper draws on recent publications by The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) and partners, including Hargroves, K. Smith, M. (Eds) (2005) The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance for the 21st Century, and the TNEP Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program - Critical Literacies for Engineers Portfolio. Both projects have the significant support of Engineers Australia. its College of Environmental Engineers and the Society of Sustainability and Environmental Engineering.

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ID Code: 85223
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Technologies (090703)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development (130202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Science Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy (130212)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 The Author
Deposited On: 10 Aug 2015 01:06
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2015 06:34

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