Climate emergency

The climate emergency is the greatest threat to our planet. Structural engineers have a responsibility to help mitigate its effects by changing the way buildings and infrastructure are designed, commissioned and constructed.

UK engineering consultancies declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in 2019, recognising the need to show leadership and drive real improvements.

The Institution supports these vital efforts through its role as an international centre of knowledge, sharing information and opinion with its membership and beyond.

Our Climate Emergency Task Group has grouped guidance, training and other useful resources under six key actions which should be priorities for all structural engineering professionals.

Browse our resources, gathered under each action, below.
 

1. Get informed

Understand how your decisions impact the climate.

Lecture
<h4>Launch of The Structural Carbon Tool</h4>

Launch of The Structural Carbon Tool

Date ‐ 18 March 2021
Price ‐ Free
<h4>Celebration of Design Competition winners</h4>

Celebration of Design Competition winners

Young Structural Engineering International Design Competition 2020: a sustainable habitat for coastal communities.

Date ‐ 11 March 2021
Price ‐ Free
Webinar
<h4>Novel materials series: How to get novel materials adopted on projects: R&D to construction</h4>

Novel materials series: How to get novel materials adopted on projects: R&D to construction

Novel materials and methods to achieve net zero: part 1 of 6.

Date ‐ 21 April 2021
Price ‐ From £45.50 + VAT
Teaching
<h4>Podcast: Mike Cook FIStructE on Engineering Matters</h4>

Podcast: Mike Cook FIStructE on Engineering Matters

Engineering Matters speaks to 2020 Gold Medal winner, Mike Cook, about the climate emergency and his career.

Date ‐ 26 June 2020
Career Profiles
Jo da Silva, 2017 IStructE Gold Medallist

Jo da Silva FIStructE - Gold Medal Address 2017

Jo reflects on her own career and looks ahead to 2050, discussing the role structural engineers play in creating safe, sustainable, inclusive and resilient cities.

Date ‐ 2 February 2018
Price ‐ Free
The Structural Engineer
Blue abstract blocks

Profile: Mike Cook

Engineers must resist pressure to build environmentally unsustainable schemes if we want to be judged well by future generations, says 2020 Gold Medal winner and former Institution Vice-President, Mike Cook.

Date ‐ 1 August 2020
Author ‐ Jackie Whitelaw
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
Mike Cook

Foreword: Turning climate commitment into action

This foreword briefly summarises the commitments that engineers have made in declaring a climate emergency and considers first steps to build action plans that will support these commitments.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Mike Cook
Price ‐ £9
Guidance
Blue abstract blocks

Tackling the climate emergency through daily project work

Engineers discuss their experiences of implementing changes and set out their future action plans for tackling the climate emergency.

Date ‐ 2 November 2020
Author ‐ Michelle McDowell, Simon Pitchers and Margaret Cooke
Price ‐ Free
Guidance
Blue abstract blocks

Working towards the climate emergency goals

Updates on how the Institution and wider industry have been working towards the targets.

Date ‐ 2 November 2020
Author ‐ Mike Cook, Will Arnold and Ed Clark
Price ‐ Free
Guidance
Blue abstract blocks

Getting started in sustainable design

Learn about some of the resources available to you to help with sustainable design.

Date ‐ 2 November 2020
Author ‐ Andy Yates and Ed Clark
Price ‐ Free
Blog
A bridge over a dry river bed

Six climate emergency actions for structural engineers

Mike Cook FIStructE describes six actions structural engineers should take now to address climate change.

Date ‐ 27 March 2020
Author ‐ Mike Cook FIStructE
Training
Blue abstract blocks

Influencing the project brief and business model

The speakers discuss their experiences of influencing both the brief and the client. They also highlight how they are adapting the business model within their respective companies.

Date ‐ 22 December 2020
Author ‐ Chris Carroll, Ailsa Roberts, Nitesh Magdani and Michael Gryniuk
Price ‐ Free
Blog
<h4>Young engineers and the climate emergency</h4>

Young engineers and the climate emergency

In this piece, Pooja Shah shares her thoughts on how young engineers can respond to the climate emergency. Pooja is an Engineer at RDG Engineering and Chair of the IStructE Young Member’s Group.

Date ‐ 22 December 2020
News
Blue abstract blocks

Judging panel announced - Young Structural Engineer International Design competition

Meet the esteemed judging panel for this year’s Young Structural Engineer International Design Competition and find out what they are looking for ahead of the competition winner’s announcement.

Date ‐ 2 November 2020
Author ‐ Various
Guidance
Blue abstract blocks

The Institution's response to the climate emergency

An update on what the Institution is doing to help combat the climate emergency.

Date ‐ 30 October 2020
Author ‐ Will Arnold
Price ‐ Free

More information:

2. Low carbon

Controlling carbon is as important as controlling cost and safety.

The Structural Engineer
<h4>The Nucleus at Haysfield Girls' School, Bath: achieving low embodied carbon using renewable material</h4>

The Nucleus at Haysfield Girls' School, Bath: achieving low embodied carbon using renewable material

Authors from Integral Engineering Design describe how they met their client's brief for a new science department that would demonstrate sustainable building structures to students. The result - The Nucleus - is a carbon-negative structure which will offset its operational emissions for seven years.

Date ‐ 1 October 2014
Author ‐ Ralph Pelly and Tim Mander (Integral Engineering Design)
Price ‐ £9
Guidance
Blue abstract blocks

How to specify lower carbon concrete

Jenny Burridge of the Concrete Centre discusses a more sustainable approach to concrete.

Date ‐ 6 August 2020
Author ‐ Jenny Burridge
The Structural Engineer
Pie chart showing carbon breakdown of project

We signed the climate declaration - now what? Lessons from counting carbon

Ben Gholam of Price & Myers shares his practice's experience of setting up a carbon-calculation tool and encourages other firms to take the plunge.

Date ‐ 1 July 2020
Author ‐ Ben Gholam
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
<h4>A brief guide to calculating embodied carbon</h4>

A brief guide to calculating embodied carbon

John Orr, Orlando Gibbons and Will Arnold preview a forthcoming new guide from the Institution on calculating embodied carbon.

Date ‐ 1 July 2020
Author ‐ John Orr, Orlando Gibbons and Will Arnold
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
Manufacturing workshop

Held to carbon account: the end of 'bog standard' new build?

As the climate changes there will be ever-increasing social and economic pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with focus turning to the embodied carbon in products which has thus far been eclipsed by operational values.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Muiris Moynihan
Price ‐ £9
Blog
A steel and concrete structure

Steel, concrete and climate change

Muiris Moynihan MIStructE explains why use is so widespread, the materials' climate change impact, and why their responsible use is the realm of structural engineers.

Date ‐ 11 December 2019
Author ‐ Muiris Moynihan MIStructE
The Structural Engineer
Steel beam, timber plank, masonry brick, concrete block

Making low-carbon material choices

Will Arnold, Jenny Burridge, David Moore, Keerthi Ranasinghe and Sean Wilkins argue that engineers should always look to specify the most suitable material for a particular project, and offer advice on how to use materials efficiently once a choice is made.

Date ‐ 1 February 2021
Author ‐ Will Arnold, Jenny Burridge, David Moore, Keerthi Ranasinghe and Sean Wilkins
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
<h4>How can we reduce the embodied carbon of structural concrete?</h4>

How can we reduce the embodied carbon of structural concrete?

Paul Astle explores potential ways in which engineers can seek reductions in the embodied carbon of structural concrete.

Date ‐ 1 February 2021
Author ‐ Paul Astle
Price ‐ £0
Blog
Blue abstract blocks

11 recommended reads on using timber and bamboo

James Norman and David Trujillo share their favourite guidance documents on timber and bamboo.

Date ‐ 15 January 2021

More information:

3. Lean design

Reduce material use safely through efficient, precise design.

Training
A view of a structure and the sea

Adaptable structures - what really is serviceability?

A debate focussing on the monitoring and flexible use of structures and the use of new technologies.

Date ‐ 28 February 2019
Price ‐ Free
Training
Woodchip Barn's timber roof structure

Digital fabrication

How digital fabrication is transforming the way we construct the built environment.

Date ‐ 24 January 2018
Price ‐ Free
Training
Technical Lecture Series: Minimising energy in construction

Minimising energy in construction

A discussion of culture and practice in design relating to material efficiency.

Date ‐ 7 December 2018
Author ‐ Dr John Orr and Chris Wise
Price ‐ Free
The Structural Engineer
Burning building

Structural fire safety when responding to the climate emergency

Luke Bisby urges structural engineers to improve their understanding of ‘fire resistance’ as the profession looks to innovate rapidly in response to climate change.

Date ‐ 1 February 2021
Author ‐ Luke Bisby
Price ‐ £0
Case Study
A digital image of a structure

Embodied carbon: structural sensitivity study

A study shared by BuroHappold to share knowledge that may help address the climate emergency.

Date ‐ 2 April 2020
Author ‐ Jonathan Roynon, BuroHappold
Price ‐ Free
The Structural Engineer
<h4>Viewpoint: Computational design: embedding sustainability</h4>

Viewpoint: Computational design: embedding sustainability

The Institution’s Digital Workflows and Computational Design Panel calls for a rethink of what computational design offers the industry for more sustainable design.

Date ‐ 2 October 2019
Author ‐ Ashley Kacha
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
<h4>What do we mean by efficiency? A holistic approach to reducing embodied carbon</h4>

What do we mean by efficiency? A holistic approach to reducing embodied carbon

Ben Gholam describes the development by Price & Myers of a parametric benchmarking tool to allow engineers to produce scheme designs with the lowest embodied carbon.

Date ‐ 16 October 2020
Author ‐ Ben Gholam
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
<h4>Shell structures: lessons in structural efficiency for sustainable construction</h4>

Shell structures: lessons in structural efficiency for sustainable construction

Isuru Nanayakkara looks at traditional technologies and modern approaches to lightweight shell construction to seek a better perspective on how shell technology can be appropriated to different local contexts.

Date ‐ 1 April 2020
Author ‐ Kavinda Isuru Nanayakkara
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
Collapsed level of multistorey car park

Structural safety when designing lean in the climate emergency

The IStructE Safety, Health and Wellbeing Panel considers the safety implications when aspiring to a lean design.

Date ‐ 4 January 2021
Author ‐ IStructE Safety, Health and Wellbeing Panel
Price ‐ £0

More information:


4. Zero waste

Design structures that are easily reused and recycled.

Guidance
<h4>Appraisal of existing structures (Third edition)</h4>

Appraisal of existing structures (Third edition)

Comprehensive, step-by-step guidance for structural engineers needing to check and report on the adequacy of an existing structure.

Date ‐ 1 October 2010
Author ‐ Various (Institution Task Group)
Price ‐ £38.35/£59
Blog
Dried flax stems

Three ways structural engineers can help create a zero-waste future

Guglielmo Carra, Arup's Materials Consulting Lead, Europe, is a civil engineer and materials scientist. Here he outlines how the construction industry needs to change how it thinks about waste, and how structural engineers can contribute.

Date ‐ 21 January 2019
Author ‐ Guglielmo Carra
Training
Woodchip Barn's timber roof structure

Digital fabrication

How digital fabrication is transforming the way we construct the built environment.

Date ‐ 24 January 2018
Price ‐ Free
The Structural Engineer
Structural art installation

Redefining structural art: strategies, necessities and opportunities

It is simply not possible to build in the future the way we do today if we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, slow the depletion of natural resources and minimise waste production. These challenges can only be addressed if engineers and architects actively include them at the source of their designs.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Philippe Block, Tom Van Mele, Matthias Rippmann, Francesco Ranaudo, Cristian Calvo Barentin and Noelle Paulson
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
Circular economy

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is reused: structural design for a circular economy

Structural designers’ efforts to reduce environmental impacts traditionally consist of developing systems that minimise material quantities or use low-impact materials. A third strategy is currently (re)emerging: the reuse of structural components over multiple service lives and in new layouts.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Corentin Fivet and Jan Brutting
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
Manufacturing buildings

Manufacturing buildings for people and planet

This paper explores issues around the ambitions for use of off-site methods, identifies some lessons from previous projects, and suggests ways to accelerate the adoption of manufacturing-led methods, including professional services delivery, education and skills.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Adrian Campbell, Matt Cooper and Andrew Waugh
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
Manufacturing workshop

Held to carbon account: the end of 'bog standard' new build?

As the climate changes there will be ever-increasing social and economic pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with focus turning to the embodied carbon in products which has thus far been eclipsed by operational values.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Muiris Moynihan
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
<h4>A short guide to reusing foundations</h4>

A short guide to reusing foundations

Henry Tayler takes readers through the key considerations for reusing foundations, including potential benefits, risks and investigations required.

Date ‐ 16 November 2020
Author ‐ Henry Tayler
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
<h4>An introduction to refurbishment. Part 1: Identifying opportunities at the feasibility stage</h4>

An introduction to refurbishment. Part 1: Identifying opportunities at the feasibility stage

Stephen Fernandez discusses ways in which engineers can explore the potential to refurbish existing buildings instead of demolishing and building anew.

Date ‐ 16 November 2020
Author ‐ Stephen Fernandez
Price ‐ £0
Training
<h4>The art of persuasion and collaboration</h4>

The art of persuasion and collaboration

How can structural engineers influence decision making?

Date ‐ 6 November 2020
Author ‐ Will Arnold, Roma Agrawal, Martin Knight and Elena Redriguez-Falcon
Price ‐ Free
Library
<h4>Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings</h4>

Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Existing Buildings

Describes deficiency-based and systematic procedures that use performance-based principles to evaluate and retrofit existing buildings to withstand the effects of earthquakes.

Date ‐ 20 November 2017
Author ‐ American Society of Civil Engineers
Price ‐ Free to members
Blog
Unfinished office building interior

Practical application of circular economy principles

Eva MacNamara argues engineers need to maximise the value of material and minimise embodied energy to address the climate emergency.

Date ‐ 30 May 2020
Author ‐ Eva MacNamara MIStructE

More information:

5. Influence the brief

Convince your client and collaborators to pursue designs that are low-carbon and minimal intervention.

Training
<h4>Minimal intervention: less is more</h4>

Minimal intervention: less is more

Hear from the engineer behind the Structural Award-winning Newquay Harper Footbridge project - and get into the mindset of only doing what is necessary.

Date ‐ 27 April 2020
Author ‐ Tony Parasram
Price ‐ Free
The Structural Engineer
Graph showing evolution to build nothing

How can we create an engineering industry while building nothing?

James Norman, Tim Ibell and Oliver Broadbent examine the challenges engineers will face in persuading clients to repurpose existing buildings in place of building new ones.

Date ‐ 1 July 2020
Author ‐ James Norman, Tim Ibell and Oliver Broadbent
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
<h4>Persuasion and influence in a climate emergency</h4>

Persuasion and influence in a climate emergency

William Algaard presents ways in which structural engineers can help shape the direction of a project by confidently and constructively sharing their expertise in a language that client and architect will understand.

Date ‐ 2 September 2020
Author ‐ William Algaard
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
Timber roof structure of Macallan Distillery

Time for a structural change?

To design more sustainable buildings, big decisions need to be made early in the design process. Could laying out the structure to a 300mm planning grid reduce embodied carbon, enable the circular economy and still retain the uniqueness of design, asks David Treacy.

Date ‐ 1 August 2020
Author ‐ David Treacy
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
Crossed out excavator demolishing building

Nothing is better than something

Tim Ibell, James Norman and Oliver Broadbent challenge structural engineers to steer their clients away from a presumption of a new building.

Date ‐ 1 June 2020
Author ‐ Tim Ibell, James Norman and Oliver Broadbent
Price ‐ £0
The Structural Engineer
Dozen people sat at desks classroom style

Viewpoint: A curriculum for the climate emergency: what questions should we be asking?

Oliver Broadbent and James Norman call for a rethink of engineering education to meet the needs of an industry adapting to the demands of the climate emergency.

Date ‐ 2 September 2020
Author ‐ Oliver Broadbent and James Norman
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
<h4>The climate change crisis demands radical change by all. How must structural engineers respond</h4>

The climate change crisis demands radical change by all. How must structural engineers respond

In his winning entry to the Institution’s Kenneth Severn Award 2020 – an annual essay competition for young engineers – Will Rogers-Tizard argues that structural engineers can help tackle the climate emergency by making better use of materials, understanding carbon values and questioning industry norms.

Date ‐ 2 September 2020
Author ‐ Will Rogers-Tizard
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
Manufacturing workshop

Held to carbon account: the end of 'bog standard' new build?

As the climate changes there will be ever-increasing social and economic pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with focus turning to the embodied carbon in products which has thus far been eclipsed by operational values.

Date ‐ 2 January 2020
Author ‐ Muiris Moynihan
Price ‐ £9
The Structural Engineer
<h4>An introduction to refurbishment. Part 1: Identifying opportunities at the feasibility stage</h4>

An introduction to refurbishment. Part 1: Identifying opportunities at the feasibility stage

Stephen Fernandez discusses ways in which engineers can explore the potential to refurbish existing buildings instead of demolishing and building anew.

Date ‐ 16 November 2020
Author ‐ Stephen Fernandez
Price ‐ £0

More information:

Arup: Realising the value of the circular economy in real estate


6. Get involved

Exchange information through the Institution and lobby for change.

We are seeking contributions from across structural engineering, including thought leadership, useful technical information, or case studies that exemplify best practice.

Regional Groups offer you learning and netowrking opportunities near you.

IStructE's Linkedin Group is a great way to make professional connections with other members.