Over the last few years, the environmental movement has been gaining traction, both at home in Canada and abroad. Alternative energy has often grabbed the headlines, but there’s more going on behind the scenes.
For example, the field of engineering—across a broad swath of industries and occupations—has been going green. It’s been the rise of eco-friendly development, informing everything engineers do, no matter which industry they’re in or what projects they’re working on.
The Idea of Sustainable
Much of the talk in the engineering field has centered on the idea of sustainability. Much of the science behind climate change and global warming points to the fact North America and Western Europe need to change. The lifestyle—including gas-guzzling vehicles and plenty of waste—is “unsustainable.”
Many industries have been taking a good, hard look at sustainability as well. Many older techniques are falling by the wayside as hazards are revealed. Almost everyone seems to agree: There must be a better way to do things.
Whatever the method is, it will be sustainable.
Building from the Ground Up
Another realization informing the environmental movement in industries such as construction, mining, and even oil & gas is the notion you can’t simply splash some eco-friendly paint on the walls of your building and call it a day.
Eco-friendliness needs to be incorporated at every stage of a project, from the planning stages through to final execution. Yes, the “green” paint (and other green materials) are great steps forward—but they can’t be the only step you take.
Enter the Engineers
This is where engineers come in. Since engineers are involved in almost every stage of the project—whether it’s constructing a new building or opening a new mine site—they have the best opportunity to design and develop in an eco-friendly manner. They can then see it through to the final stages.
An example: a planning project for a city. Engineers will be involved almost every step of the way, whether it’s designing (or redesigning) roadways or revamping the city’s sewer and waste water management systems. The engineer might consider how run-off affects rivers and wetlands alongside which materials to use.
What Is Being Greened?
Just about everything you can imagine! Since engineers work on such a diverse set of projects, in a wide spectrum of industries, they have a chance to apply green principles to any number of projects at any number of stages. One engineer might be working with a manufacturer to retool a plant facility to be more eco-friendly, while a civil engineer is helping Canada’s urban centres manage their waste water in more environmentally friendly ways.
Other engineers are working in the alternative energy industry, while still others are helping oil & gas invent better ways of refining their products.
How Is It Green?
Engineers look at everything from the design to the materials to the processes being employed. The civil engineer looks at where waste water is directed, the conduits used to move it from one place to another, and the processes and chemicals used to treat the water. At every stage, there’s opportunity to make things more eco-friendly.
The same is true across almost every industry. The construction industry is using building information modelling (BIM) to create better designs and update everyone working on the project. Not only are green materials being incorporated into a building’s design, but green systems are as well. Ultimately, the process is greener too.
The Way of the Future
Eco-friendly development is on the rise not only because it makes for a sustainable future, but because it’s often more cost effective as well. Using eco-friendly engineering is better for companies, for people, and for the planet. It’s a true win-win situation, for everyone.