Engineering regulator issues fresh guidance on sustainability

Article by Adam Duckett

SUSTAINABILITY guidance for engineering professionals has been issued by the Engineering Council, the regulatory body for the UK engineering profession.

The guidance, which is reviewed and revised periodically, includes the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, clarifies its definition of sustainable development, and emphasises the importance of engineers taking a proactive role. This latest edition highlights the importance of designing in sustainability from the start, emphasises the inter-connectedness of environmental challenges and solutions, the role of regeneration and restoration, and consideration of the whole lifecycle – including safe disposal. 

It sets out six principles to guide engineering professionals in integrating understanding of the environment and sustainability into all aspects of their work:

  • Contribute to building a sustainable society, present and future.
  • Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role on sustainability.
  • Do more than just comply with legislation and codes: be prepared to challenge the status quo.
  • Use resources efficiently and effectively.
  • Seek multiple views to solve sustainability challenges.
  • Manage risk to minimise adverse impact and maximise benefit to people and the environment.

Alasdair Coates, CEO of the Engineering Council, said: “This updated Guidance on Sustainability supports individual engineers in achieving sustainable development through engineering, as well as helping professionally registered engineers – Chartered Engineers, Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians – to meet their professional obligations.”

“Engineers and technicians have a key leadership and influencing role in working towards sustainability, increasingly as part of multi-disciplinary teams that include non-engineers, and through work that crosses national boundaries.”

Adisa Azapagic, IChemE Fellow and a member of the Engineering Council’s working group that developed the revised guidance, said: “Embedding sustainability thinking within engineering practice is essential if we are to meet the goals of sustainable development. This updated Guidance on Sustainability recognises this and provides a practical guide to engineers on how to carry out their work so as to contribute to sustainable development.”

Jarka Glassey, IChemE’s Vice President – Learned Society, said: “This update is very timely and important in supporting IChemE’s drive to working with all stakeholders to deliver a fair, safe and sustainable future. In November, IChemE published its Climate Change statement. This set out our principles and it aims for us to work collaboratively as members through education, research and sustainable engineering practices towards the transition to a net zero carbon world by 2050.”

“The principles set out in the Engineering Council’s guidance align closely with our Learned Society priority topic area concerning Responsible Production. We must improve chemical engineering technologies and processes to minimise our societal and environmental impact and improve the sustainability of production and consumption cycles.”

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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