Our Climate Charter
Over the last few months, our industry and its professional institutions have made public declarations regarding the Climate Emergency and the actions that should be taken for us to tackle it. Like so many other practices across the built environment, we have signed up to support ‘Engineers Declare’ and talked about the moral obligation we all have to act urgently. All these declarations have inspired us to reflect on how we talk about our behaviour and approach in delivering this agenda and it is for this reason that we have put together the Civic Engineers Climate Charter.
Climate sensitivity and its protection has been a founding feature of our Practice since its inception and it is embedded in our vision, our values and our designs. We have been actively pursuing a sustainable design agenda and recognise the opportunity we have to make a real impact from in our building and urban infrastructure projects.
The five principles of the Civic Engineers Climate Charter are:
- Exploring not exploiting – promoting modes of active travel and spatial planning that are rooted in nature and involve ideally located amenities and facilities that encourage healthy lifestyles.
- Building not destroying – supporting mixed-use urban developments that reduce reliance on the private car and avoid unnecessary development on remote and valuable greenfield sites.
- Reusing not just using – prioritising reuse and adaptions of existing building structures and infrastructure over demolition and replacement, to minimise carbon expenditure.
- Listening and learning – pairing technical excellence with emotional intelligence to design buildings and environments through a truly collaborative process that is informed by the needs of people, community interests, policies and priorities.
- Creating a lasting legacy – exploration and use of upcycled materials and nature-based solutions, including the promotion of green and blue infrastructure into all designs, to encourage biodiversity and resilience against environmental extremes.
As structural, civil and transport engineers, we aim to create inspirational structures and places that have a positive impact on the environment and enable people to lead happier and healthier lives.
In achieving this vision, we as a Practice, alongside our industry, profession and society as a whole, have a moral obligation to act urgently to repair the damage that our current lifestyles have done to the planet and increase our efforts in response to the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.
Climate sensitivity and its protection has been a founding feature of our Practice, since its inception and it is embedded in our vision, our values and our designs. We have been pursuing a sustainable design agenda, and recognise that as engineers we have the opportunity to make a real and substantial impact on the carbon cost of the built environment through carefully considered design, well-informed decision-making and the pursuit of nature based solutions.
Our industry and our professional institutions have made public declarations which demonstrate our responsibility and urgency in tackling this issue. These have inspired us to reflect on how we talk about our approach and behaviour in delivering this agenda. This climate charter uses our founding principles to elaborate on our approach:
Exploring not exploiting
Active travel – With road travel accounting for 25% of UK carbon emissions, we promote modes of active travel and spatial planning that offers lifestyles happily serviced by amenities and facilities ideally located within a comfortable walking or cycling distance. This brings significant health and wellbeing benefits.
Rooted in nature – We design neighbourhoods based on the character and quality of the geography and landscape drawing out the qualities that are distinctive and valuable.
Building not destroying
Land use and location – We support development that is mixed use, or is located so it is either within, or it extends in a considered way, an existing urban environment and does not increase people’s reliance on the private car for access or connection to amenities.
We seek to avoid unnecessary development on remote and valuable greenfield sites, and therefore avoid the associated impact on nature, microclimate and downstream flood risk.
Re-using not just using
Re-purposing for the future – To reach carbon neutrality by 2030, as an industry we need to use 33% less steel and concrete. This is why re-using and re-purposing existing buildings and infrastructure, as a priority over demolition and replacement is so important. Our designs consider future adaptations of building structures and infrastructure, so their useful life can be extended, minimising further carbon expenditure, and a more positive impact on the environment is achieved.
Listening and learning
Technical excellence partnered with emotional intelligence – We spend time getting to know and understand the people and places where we work. This understanding allows us to be aware of local interests, policies and priorities so we can then enhance and showcase in the right way the buildings, settings and environment we are designing.
Importance of collaboration – We strongly believe in challenging and listening to those we work with, participating in industry debates and engaging with opinions, techniques and ideas from across our industry and peers outside of our industry.
Creating a lasting legacy
Embodied Carbon – Our new building and infrastructure designs promote the use of low carbon and upcycled materials where we can prove technical viability. This often includes more use of timber. We work with industry partners to develop alternatives to carbon-intense and steel-based products and our design process includes carbon calculation of the materials we specify as a metric to be used in decision-making, alongside economic cost.
Climate resilience – The promotion of green and blue infrastructure in our designs is central to our approach in all projects. Exploration of nature-based solutions, as well as the orientation, scale and arrangement of buildings to provide resilience against environmental extremes and flood risk is crucial. We have been at the forefront of the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) maximising the four core benefits of control over water quantity, quality, biodiversity and amenity.