Sustainability at the Core: The Imperative for Consulting Engineers < back to blog

Sustainability at the Core: The Imperative for Consulting Engineers

by Shane Dempsey.

This summer feels like the tipping point in the climate change debate; adverse weather caused so much high-profile damage concerted, radical societal action must follow.  Consulting engineers will play a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable future for our built environment.  By bringing global expertise and leading-edge innovation to bear on the construction industry, they underpin the delivery of the low carbon and sustainable infrastructure, buildings, and housing required in every Irish community in society. 

Today, more than ever, sustainability has emerged as the guiding principle that should inform and inspire the work of consulting engineers.  ACEI members are at the forefront of addressing some of the world's most pressing challenges, such as climate change, resource depletion, and urbanisation. These issues are interconnected, and sustainable solutions are essential to mitigate their impact. Sustainable engineering practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy efficiency, and conserve natural resources, all of which are vital steps in combating climate change and securing a sustainable future.

Meeting Regulatory Demands

Governments and regulatory bodies worldwide are increasingly enacting stringent sustainability regulations and standards.  Consulting engineers must adapt to these changing requirements to remain competitive in the industry. Focusing on sustainability not only ensures compliance but also positions consulting engineers as leaders in providing innovative solutions that meet the demands of a changing world.

In today's competitive market, a company's commitment to sustainability is a powerful driver for success. Clients and stakeholders are more inclined to partner with organisations that prioritise sustainable practices. A strong sustainability focus enhances a consulting engineer's reputation, fostering trust and loyalty among clients and attracting top talent who are passionate about making a difference.  It’s worth noting that the Irish Government now considers digital construction as a key requirement for consulting engineers operating on public sector projects.  The BIM mandate will be applied for design teams in public sector projects worth over €100m from January 2024.  Over the next 3-5 years this mandate will continue to be applied to projects with lower and lower values.  In addition, the ACEI understands that the Government and its contracting authorities will more stringently be assessing the environmental ‘cost’ of proposals from the market.  The elision of these trends are a huge opportunity for consulting engineers that embrace digitalisation and ‘green’ construction ambitiously.

Sustainable engineering practices can often lead to lower lifecycle costs for projects. By considering long-term environmental and economic impacts, consulting engineers can design and implement solutions that reduce operational and maintenance expenses, ultimately saving clients’ money and ensuring the sustainability of their investments.

Why focus on sustainable growth

Embracing sustainability encourages creativity and innovation among consulting engineers. Solving complex sustainability challenges requires out-of-the-box thinking, leading to the development of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies. These innovations not only benefit the environment but also create new business opportunities.

Sustainable designs and infrastructure contribute to resilience in the face of natural disasters and changing environmental conditions. Consulting engineers who prioritise sustainability are better equipped to develop infrastructure that can withstand the challenges posed by climate change, ensuring the safety and well-being of communities.

Consulting engineers have an ethical responsibility to consider the environmental and social implications of their work. Sustainability embodies these ethical principles by emphasising responsible and conscientious engineering practices.

Sustainability is not a choice; it is an imperative for consulting engineers. By embracing sustainability, we can address global challenges, meet regulatory demands, enhance their reputation, reduce costs, unlock innovation, foster resilience, and fulfil ethical responsibilities.  Sustainability should not be seen as a burden but as an opportunity to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all. Those who prioritise sustainability are not just leaders in their industry; they are architects of a better world. It's time for all of us to recognise the importance of sustainability and make it an integral part of their work.

If you would like to hear what leading consulting engineering practitioners in the industry are doing, please register to attend our upcoming event on September 20th in Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.

The event is open to members and non-members in addition to 3rd level academics.

For registration, please contact