Civil engineers need re-training to design efficient, low-carbon infrastructure projects

Civil engineers need re-train themselves to think about how – through design – they can influence the very long operational life of infrastructure projects and make them efficient, low-carbon and fit-for-purpose for years to come, said Helen Patelidou, ARUP’s Associate Director Infrastructure at the CCC Summit ‘The Road to Carbon-Neutral Infrastructure’.

Engineers in general are trained for and are used to designing infrastructure in a certain traditional way, that involves concrete and steel and how you put it together to make infrastructure assets.

The transformation and re-training of engineering and industry in general takes time and we are only just starting on that journey, she explained.

“You need infrastructure for society to work and for business to grow. It is also a big carbon-emitter. For the UK more than half of the UK’s footprint is attributed to infrastructure.

“It is urgent that we decarbonize our built environment, and infrastructure has a big role to play in doing so,” she stressed.

Design brief

For life-cycle thinking to be addressed in design, it has to be included by the client in the brief for the design and in procurement.

Success here also depends on how much control the client has over both the capital aspect of the infrastructure project as well as the asset-management part of it. This tends to be these days two different departments, if not two different entities.

So there are some sectors that are more able to address whole-life procurement and design, and for others this is more tenuous and needs more work and thinking about.

See CCC Summit press release

See CCC Summit Roundup page here

 

Full interview with Heleni Pantelidou, ARUP

 

How important is it to promote low carbon infrastructure?

Infrastructure is an important part of a nation’s existence. You need infrastructure for society to work and for business to grow. It is also a big carbon-emitter. For the UK more than half of the UK’s footprint is attributed to infrastructure.

It is urgent that we decarbonize our built environment, and infrastructure has a big role to play in doing so. 

What challenges do your team at Arup face in the design and problem-solving of building and civil engineering projects?

Engineers in general are trained for and are used to designing infrastructure in a certain traditional way, that involves concrete and steel and how you put it together to make infrastructure assets.

We need re-train ourselves to think about more than just the capital part of infrastructure. And how we can influence through design the very long operational life and how we make it efficient, low-carbon and fit-for-purpose for years to come.

That transformation and re-training of engineering and industry in general takes time and we are only just starting on that journey.

How can life-cycle thinking be built into project design?

For life-cycle thinking to be addressed in design, it has to be included in the brief for the design. So it is something that the client can recognize and address as part of the procurement as well as the design brief. And that also depends on how much control the client has over both the capital aspect of the infrastructure project as well as the asset-management part of it. This tends to be these days two different departments, if not two different entities.

So there are some sectors that are more able to address whole-life procurement and design, and for others this is more tenuous and needs more work and thinking about.

 

September 7, 2018
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