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Topic Title: Environmental sustainability - every engineer's responsibility...?
Topic Summary: To debate which dimensions of an engineer's profession should incorporate environmental sustainability
Created On: 06 March 2012 12:10 AM
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 06 March 2012 12:10 AM
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maceace

Posts: 7
Joined: 18 January 2003

Interested in members' views on the extent to which environmental sustainability is or could / should be considered within day to day professional life as an engineer: In addition to "greening" your daily working life (choosing lower-carbon / lower-energy modes of transport to work or on business travel for example), or lowering the daily carbon footprint in other ways, do you also:
    engineer products, services or projects which are directly focussed on sustainability / carbon reduction / renewable / recycling ?
    pay attention to the whole life carbon footprint of your project during creation, operation and disposal ?
    explore additional secondary sustainability benefits which your project might deliberately or inadvertently bring, for example by being applied in adjacent domains ?
If no to any of the above, what barriers do you feel stand in the way of creating greater sustainability and climate change resilience, through your work as a professional engineer ? Are there any other dimensions of an engineer's work which could impact on sustainability and climate change resilience ? Interested in any thoughts and debate this post might stimulate. Kind regards Erik

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Erik MacEachern BSc(Hons) PGDip MIET
 06 March 2012 02:04 AM
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jimmcconnach

Posts: 109
Joined: 10 July 2002

Hi Erik;
I am leading an IEEE-SA Standards Working Group trying to Develop a Standard Document for:
"Standards for Designating and Quantifying Green Energy Projects in the Electricity Sector"

In other words how do you measure "Greeness" and "Sustainability" taking into account a total life cycle approach.

It is IEEE-SA Project P1595.


Sounds like you may be interested in this and I invite you to join the Working Group.
If you are interested, let me know your e-mail address and I will send you the Approved PAR for the Project and further Info.
(PAR = Project Authorization Request)


Best regards;
Jim McConnach, P Eng, FEC, FIET, SMIEEE
Chair of P1595WG
Ontario, Canada
jsmcconnach@iee.org

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Jim McConnach
Past TPSB Rep on Council
Past Member, PTCN Exec Team & MN Exec Team
 06 March 2012 09:46 PM
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maceace

Posts: 7
Joined: 18 January 2003

Jim many thanks for the response and invitation, I look forward to participating. A great example of how standards related work can influence the attention engineers can bring to focus on sustainability in their work.
Erik


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Erik MacEachern BSc(Hons) PGDip MIET
 06 March 2012 10:06 PM
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dlane

Posts: 690
Joined: 28 September 2007

I have tried to incoporate sustainable elements into the projects I have worked on especially in regard to the operation and disposal elements. I haven't really considered the creation stage other than what it takes to install the equipment on the site, I haven't considered what it takes to actually manufacture the equipment and to be honest I think I would struggle to get that kind of information out of manufacturers.

I think from engineers there has to be a realisation that although some of the sustainable options (especially in the energy sector) aren't currently the most reliable or feasable we still have to persevere with them to bring them up to the standards we require.

Most of the greener options will have a small impact but that doesn't mean to say they are not worth investing in. Lots of smaller investments will create a larger impact. For example why not install solar panels on wind turbines?

Realisation also has to come from managers and accountants. Sustainable options will often mean more expense and a slower return on investments, but these elements are often the greater drivers for projects. I guess as an engineer I need to learn to speak the managers and accountants lingo so that these options can be put in a better light.

Kind regards

Donald Lane
 07 March 2012 12:07 AM
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maceace

Posts: 7
Joined: 18 January 2003

Donald thank you for your post. Hopefully as goods progress along their value chains, in future there will be much more explicit and transparent evidence of how they accrete a carbon footprint either in terms of carbon embedded or released from raw materials & processes all the way to finished product, instead of "greenwash" in the sales brochures. I'd like to think that even if there are small benefits and gains from small green options, that market forces would bring enough pressure to make those small options more viable. The closer to peak-oil tipping point the more those small contributions will make a difference. With regard to the management and finance "lingo" - I'd like to think that our finance colleagues might at least meet us half-way - literacy in reducing our impact on the environment could be plain-english - or even a shared vocabulary that makes it easy for all disciplines to understand the dynamics affecting us all. Hopefully any IET members involved in carbon accounting can chip in here ? Kind regards Erik

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Erik MacEachern BSc(Hons) PGDip MIET
 08 March 2012 10:23 PM
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dlane

Posts: 690
Joined: 28 September 2007

Hi Erik,

A common standard for identifying a products' credentials towards its carbon footprint would indeed be a huge step forward but it has to be done for all products and not just those products purporting to be greener. If we don't know the carbon footprint of the older products then we cannot comapre them to the newer ones.

The main problem with implementing more sustainable products is that in a lot of cases you are reliant upon accountants and managers operating at a higher level of morality and not just going for the best returns.

For example I managed to push through a battery upgrade because I could show that the newer batteries would last longer and produce a reduction in waste over the plant life than the old ones and hence a reduction in costs, so that went ahead. When I looked at PF correction the payback calculated was around 8 years which accountants didn't view as an acceptable payback for that amount of expenditure irrespective that it reduced power consumption.

I guess we are in a transition period and as time goes by and new systems are installed that already have more sustainable technology within them it will become the norm to replace them with the same or even better technology.

Kind regards

Donald Lane
 09 March 2012 08:36 AM
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maceace

Posts: 7
Joined: 18 January 2003

Hopefully yesterday's announcement about the new UK Green Investment Bank will focus minds within the finance and management community on what evidence they need to articulate about how green their projects are ? This in turn would need to be backed up by engineering and scientific evidence. Kind regards Erik

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Erik MacEachern BSc(Hons) PGDip MIET
 13 March 2012 08:25 AM
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maceace

Posts: 7
Joined: 18 January 2003

Interestingly here link is an example of a company achieving independent certification of the carbon footprint of a small subset of its products, certified by the Carbon Trust to the new GHG Protocol Product Standard link

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Erik MacEachern BSc(Hons) PGDip MIET
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