SAT01: What is the most sustainable way forward and what are the barriers to achieving this?

Professor Richard Ashley has written a paper on the "Role of the Civil Engineer in Society" [ACA02]. Within this paper, professional barriers are discussed along with challenges in a client environment to communicate well, particularly if complex models are present. A question is raised as to how the profession role needs to change to meet today's and future challenges. "Engineers must realise the importance of using lower carbon materials and more natural techniques”. This can become an ethical challenge. There may be grand ideals for adopting sustainable approaches, such as in the London Plan 2011, but big infrastructure schemes may not live up to these ideals, such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Greater innovation can lead to a more sustainable way forward.

The SKINT Water Series (I & II) illustrates how different aspects of integrating land and water management processes are dealt with in urban planning including tackling sustainability issues [ACA03].

A Royal Academy of Engineering publication looks at the need for climate change adaptation and discusses technological and behavioural barriers, requiring engineering and socio-economic analysis and solutions, as well as other barriers such as financial [GAI03, p87]. When it comes to rainfall, predictions or projections cannot be accurately tested but designs can have flexibility and robustness as solutions built into them. Risk assessments can be made [IND03] but the true test is how a design can adapt to changing conditions.

Barriers to, and incentives for, the adoption of green water infrastructure are discussed in GAI32.


A key barrier to the adoption of blue green technologies is our governance. This is discussed in more detail in PPL06.