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This paper outlines the background to the sustainable design debate, setting the UK construction industry into the global context. It examines the contribution that structural engineering can make, and presents a range of examples and case studies for illustration. This subject can be debated at a number of levels: ‘Evolution of civilisation is closely linked to the potentialities of heating which are dependent not only upon the techniques of the apparatus and on fuel resources….’ From In Search of Man by Andre Mesinard (1957) quoted in Climate and the Energy of Nations by S. F. Marcom. ‘Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ From the Bruntland World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). ‘The creation and management of a healthy built environment based on resource efficient and ecological parameters.’ Kibbert et al, Construction Industry Board (1994). Michael Dickson, BA, MS, FREng, FIStructE, FICE, Hon FRIBA Partner & Chairman of Buro Happold Consulting Engineers; Visiting Professor of Engineering & Design, University of Bath; Chairman of Construction Industry Council