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Centre for Sustainable Development

Est 2000 - home of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

A review of sustainability in civil engineering: Why much more commitment is needed

By R.A.Fenner and C.Ainger

Civil Engineering  2020  173(2): 69–77


This paper reviews the civil engineering profession’s progress towards sustainability over the past decade in eight key areas. It finds that there have been significant steps forward in assessment methods, systems thinking, multi-functional infrastructure, flexible and adaptive design, and adoption of a circular economy in construction. However, it also finds the sustainability challenge is accelerating and much more needs to be done to go beyond business as usual. In particular, civil engineers need to be more vocal in calling out projects and practices that go counter to the planet’s and society’s needs.

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