University of the West Indies The Civil Engineer in Society CVNG 1002 Dr. Clarke Lindy-Ann Glenn ID#: 808100719 12th April 2010
THE CIVIL ENGINEER AND SUSTAINABILITY
„Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable – to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs‟Our Common Future (The 1987 Report of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly known as The Brundtland Report) "Civil engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and physical sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the progressive well-being of humanity in creating, improving, and protecting the environment, in providing facilities for community living, industry and transportation, and in providing structures for the use of humanity."American Society of Civil Engineers, 1961 Civil engineering is the second oldest branch of engineering, and was formed to distinguish it from military engineering. It deals with the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and research of fixed structures and infrastructures such as buildings, highways, and airports, and with solutions to problems involving traffic, water supply, sewer, flood control, and the environment. There are several areas in civil engineering: structural, construction, geotechnical, traffic, water resources, and urban planning. Civil engineering can be easily considered the most liberal of all engineering disciples, as it has a deep rooted history in the arts, especially where design is concerned, because it is by building that history of civilizations can be told; it has the responsiblilty of advancing civilization and improving the quality of life. The vast changes that the world is undergoing- technological revolution, population growth and environmental preservation, these all create unique opportunities and challenges for civil engineers. One such challenge is sustainability and sustainable development. Sustainable development has become an increasingly important theme in local, national and world politics, and increasingly a central theme for the engineering professions around the world. The sustainable development concept requires everyone to consider the impact of their lives and of the infrastructure and products are produced. With infrastructure and engineering products and processes becoming increasingly complex, engineers need to integrate consideration of whole-life environmental and social impacts – positive as well as negative – with the mainstream and commercial aspects of their work. Efficient use of natural resources, minimum adverse impact and maximum positive impact on people and the environment are the targets, since time is not on our side to make the necessary changes in our way of life if we are to live within the limited carrying capacity of Earth. It is increasingly recognised, that many of the practices and lifestyles of modern society – particularly but not exclusively industrialised society – cannot be sustained indefinitely. The capacity of the planet is being exceeded to provide many of the resources we use and to accommodate our emissions, while many of the planet‟s inhabitants cannot meet even their most basic needs. This problem, of recognising the need to live within constraints and to ensure more fairness in access to limited
resources, lies at the heart of the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. Sustainable development is the process of moving human activities to a pattern that can be sustained in perpetuity. It is an approach to environmental and development issues that seek to reconcile human needs with the capacity of the planet to cope with the consequences of human activities. Technology concerns, which encompass...