27th October 2022

Fundamentals of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design with Engineers Ireland & Civic Engineers


How do we build a more climate-resilient society? Even as technology continues to revolutionise virtually every aspect of our infrastructure, there remains a gap between our infrastructure needs and resources available.

Whilst it’s clear our infrastructure is currently not fit for the future, the need for change and action demands collaboration across many sectors, engineering is a prime example. Engineers have a vital role to play in shaping our physical landscape and driving the transition to help us all live healthier and happier lives and prioritise climate resilience.

Employing nature based solutions improves climatic resilience in the face of increased risk of flooding and extreme temperatures. These techniques, working with the prevailing geography can minimise environmental impact, and if sensitively applied, will strengthen the qualities that shape and make our communities, villages, towns and cities so important to us.

The Irish government is driving this change by providing funds via The Active Travel Grants Programme. The National Transport Authority, (NTA) is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to provide high quality, accessible, sustainable transport across Ireland. The Active Travel Grants Programme funds important projects supporting strategic pedestrian and cyclist routes, access to schools, permeability links, urban greenways and public transport improvement projects.

A civil, structural and transport engineering practice focused on having a positive impact on the environment, Civic Engineers are industry recognised experts at designing and delivering schemes that pursue nature based solutions as the automatic first choice. So much so, that next month we’ll be delivering a bespoke training course on behalf of Engineers Ireland, titled ‘The Fundamentals of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design and Practical Steps for Delivery’.

Join us on Tuesday the 15th November as we introduce the concepts, techniques, processes and systems founded on the principles of nature based solutions, and activities relevant to the management of rainwater and surface water runoff in urban areas.

This full days course will equip practicing engineers with an understanding of the opportunities NBS offers and challenges they can expect to encounter, along with strategies and technical guidance to navigate project stages in line with the statutory NTA work stage structure programme.

Setting out tactics to manage project risks, provide more robust assessments and deliver a better outcome for both the environment and engineering projects, the course includes a series of short targeted workshops and exercises, demonstrating how the techniques apply, and allowing participants to explore and test the methods themselves with the support of the tutor.

Following the course, participants should have gained:

  • An understanding of the value and benefits of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design & Delivery
  • An overview of how to appraise site conditions to determine options and concepts
  • Insight into key considerations when developing a concept which is then used for consent and statutory assessment purposes
  • An appreciation of the prevailing Statutory processes and design stages in terms of design detail, content and documentation.
  • Insight into examples of employing these techniques into the design of engineering projects

The full days course follows on from a free lunchtime webinar earlier in the month, focusing on some of the practical considerations to taking a nature-based approach when addressing surface water management from the engineers perspective. The webinar saw over 470 attendees join, which will now see a deeper dive into the subject, during the in-person training day.

Discussing the success of the webinar, Dr. Fran Igoe, Regional Coordinator, Local Authority Waters Programme, shared: “It was great to see such a large number of people join the webinar. The full days course is in response to feedback we received which identified a significant need for training on the practical implementation of nature-based solutions to manage surface runoff, appropriate to Ireland. Rainwater and surface runoff in urban areas can pose substantial flood risk and pollution problems if not managed appropriately. Nature-based (rain) surface water management provides solutions that not only improve water quality and assist with flood risk but also benefit biodiversity, improve placemaking and climate resilience. Nature-based surface water management will be a measure within the River Basin Management Plan (2022-20278), however, the challenge for us is to mainstream the approach for meaningful impact.”

Averil Gannon CEng, Policy Advisor, Water Division, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, also commented: “Nature-based Solutions for the management of surface water runoff are an essential climate adaptation measure for Ireland. Their multi-functional benefits ensure that we can sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems. We are delighted to see this new Nature-based Solutions course with Engineers Ireland which will assist engineers and other professionals in selecting and designing appropriate Nature-based Solutions for management of surface water runoff in their projects.”

This in-person training will take place at the offices of Engineers Ireland in Dublin, and will be delivered by Stephen O’Malley, Chief Executive of Civic Engineers. Discussing how nature based solutions can support efforts to build a more climate resilient society, Stephen shared: “Our village, towns and cities need to evolve in response to a sophisticated combination of climate change, new lifestyle patterns driven by the pandemic and new retail behaviours facilitated by digital innovation, amongst others. Working with the natural rhythms of nature, replicating geographic processes and employing nature based solutions is the only sustainable and regenerative way to allow our communities to thrive in these conditions.”

For more information on Stephen, sign-up instructions and details on who should attend please visit here.

*An additional session has now been scheduled by Engineers Ireland due to popular demand for the November 15th course. The November session has now sold out but a repeat is now confirmed for the 26th January 2023. Sign-up details here.

Fundamentals of Nature Based Urban Infrastructure Design with Engineers Ireland & Civic Engineers