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.
You can also contact the Task Group if you have questions about their work.
The Climate Emergency Task Group help the profession to tackle climate breakdown. Their 2020 report reviews the group’s activities through the year.
Will Arnold describes the role structural engineers can play in tackling climate change, by making informed design decisions and influencing other members of the project team.
Natasha Watson and Mike Sefton introduce biodiversity concepts and explain how structural engineers can influence design and construction decisions at each stage of a project to ensure that biodiversity is protected.
Grace Di Benedetto presents a short glossary of key sustainability terms that engineers are likely to encounter when reading climate guidance.
An introduction to the goals and how structural engineers can use them to tackle the climate crisis and create a better world.
Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions will be required in the short term while the construction industry develops zero-carbon materials. Will Arnold summarises the key considerations for engineers looking to offset a project’s emissions.
An essential set of embodied carbon calculation principles for structural engineers looking to change the way they practice, in order to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.
Use this tool to help you quickly estimate the embodied carbon in your structures.
Will Arnold, Mike Cook, Duncan Cox, Orlando Gibbons and John Orr present SCORS – a proposed carbon rating scheme for structures – and encourage engineers to adopt carbon targets for their projects.
Will Hawkins discusses carbon sequestration and end-of-life processes in timber structures, and the implications for sustainable decision-making in structural design.
Walter Swann explains how structural engineers can support a transition to a low-carbon steel industry through their design and specifying decisions.
Paul Astle explores potential ways in which engineers can seek reductions in the embodied carbon of structural concrete.
Natasha Watson explains how structural engineers can produce designs that make efficient use of material to reduce their environmental impact.
Ian Poole explores ways to improve the utilisation ratio of designs, and encourages engineers to challenge assumptions that favour rationalisation over optimisation.
The IStructE Safety, Health and Wellbeing Panel considers the safety implications when aspiring to a lean design.
A study shared by BuroHappold to share knowledge that may help address the climate emergency.
This article offers some solutions to help structural engineers design efficient timber buildings.
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.
Stephen Fernandez discusses ways in which engineers can explore the potential to refurbish existing buildings instead of demolishing and building anew.
Michal Drewniok discusses the principles of reusing steel elements and encourages structural engineers to consider this option over designing with new material.
The article explores ways to justify reuse of existing structures through a thorough understanding of the original building structure, and engineer’s intent.
This article discusses the analysis and modification of existing structures for new uses, allowing return on investment to be maximised and reducing the need for present-day carbon emissions from new construction.
This article discusses how strengthening an existing building can enable changes of use, achieve compliance with modern building codes, resist a previously unforeseen environmental load or increase resilience. It gives a broad description of some common strengthening options, as well as guidance on where to find more information.
Jenny Pattison discusses the typical considerations that structural engineers face when seeking to add floors to an existing building, and the sustainability outcomes of potential solutions.
Tim Chapman and Ian Firth highlight the carbon differences between civil structures and buildings projects, and propose that engineers work with their clients to target low-carbon outcomes, rather than just low-carbon structures.
How can structural engineers influence decision making?
Can very low-carbon buildings be constructed cheaply enough to suit the pockets of private-sector commercial developers? Yes, says Professor John French, who has set himself that target in his new role as director of sustainability for Cambridge Innovation Parks. But to do so involves overhauling approaches to procurement, contracting, materials and risk.
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.
Buro Happold and WSP UK have committed to reducing the carbon emissions of their designs by 50% by 2030. In this article, Sarah Prichard and David Leversha set out the rationale for this target, explain how they plan to achieve this, and encourage other firms to join them in setting an ambitious agenda for governments to follow as we approach the COP26 climate summit.
Peter Laidler describes a small practice's solution to calculating the embodied carbon of its standard structural designs.
Pete Winslow, Mike Sefton and Will Arnold set out a vision for a net-zero structural engineering sector and the R&D that we as a profession need to tackle to get there.
Discover Institution activity near you, including site visits, technical lectures, networking events and awards.
Architect Sam Turner and structural engineer James Norman encourage professional activism to tackle the climate emergency.
In this blog Mike Sefton considers how attitudes and responses to climate change have evolved over the last 25 years. He encourages us all to take collective responsibility for tackling 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.
Tackle the climate crisis by discussing issues and ideas with like-minded members
This article describes the climate-positive design for the campus of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture.
This article describes the design of Hams Way Footbridge from concept through to construction, including an assessment of the embodied carbon.
The article showcases the University of East Anglia's Enterprise Centre project, a low-carbon, sustainable building which achieves both Passivhaus standard and BREEAM Outstanding rating.
This article describes the structural reuse and strengthening strategies adopted to enable three additional storeys to be added to an existing office building in London.
The design of the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ Centre was developed from the outset to control its environmental and social impact, achieving the highest standards of sustainable construction.
22 Bishopsgate was erected on the site of an abandoned project, reusing 100% of the existing foundations from three previous buildings, and incorporating more than 50% of the basement built for its predecessor. This article describes the approach to reusing the existing foundations and basement, as well as the focus on material efficiency in designing the superstructure and transfer structures.