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Insights What is Engineering Net Zero and why does the world need it?

Meet AtkinsRéalis 's Ben Goebel, Senior Division Manager for the Atkins Major Projects and Aviation Program in North America. As a business management and operations leader, he oversees business development, project execution, internal and external reporting, client relations and business success across the large and complex aviation and transit projects across the United States.

Photo of Andrew and his team
Ben, what led you to work in Engineering Net Zero (ENZ)?

Over the last couple of years, the engineering and design has been moving toward a more environmentally conscious design approach. As design professionals, we have an ethical commitment to improve the safety and way of life for the communities we serve. The involvement with ENZ is a logical evolution of thinking within the industry and my career. ENZ-focused design is the future, and we must advance this philosophy to the greatest extent possible.

What do you do as part of ENZ?

My focus is on bringing the right resources and integrated solutions to the table for any particular client need. There are many potential variations of how to apply ENZ to a project, whether it be civil, aviation, transportation, architectural, MEP, environmental or another. It requires somebody with my background to tie all those elements together and bring a cohesive package to the table. ENZ, sustainability, carbon reduction, renewable energy or environmentally conscious design does not need to be disruptive. It's an enhancement to the services that we already provide daily.

What's your team doing that's interesting?

We're working on many exciting projects and programs across the transportation and infrastructure business. ENZ is fascinating because it has the potential to touch so many aspects of a project.

One area of particular interest right now is the electrification of airports. We're moving toward increased use of electric support equipment around the airport facilities as well as the transition parking and infrastructure to support electric vehicles. Looking into the future, we have already considered the impact of aircraft electrification and charging and the potential impact it would have on the long-term planning of airports. It will have a fundamental impact on operation and the infrastructure, and he demands of those changes will significantly influence the infrastructure and planning we put in place today.

Whether public or private, electrification can sustainably power any opportunity. The electric infrastructure in many cities is already heavily utilized, and substantial capacity for new electrification is hard to come by. However, by collaborating with our Power, Grid and Industrial Solutions (PGIS) division, we have the ability to offer full technical, financial and implementation solutions. We can also solve the financial challenges by bring bringing financial supp to these systems through our AtkinsRéalis Capital Group and providing comprehensive Design-Build-Finance- Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) services to get these projects implemented, commissioned and operational in accelerated time frames.

How is your team inspiring you?

I work with incredibly intelligent and capable individuals. I'm inspired and energized by being in the room as these professionals apply their trades. I always learn something new. As engineers, we're focused on solving problems. Sometimes we overlook the creative, expansive thought needed to develop new ideas, innovations and disruptions. By being around these individuals, I start to consider "what is possible" and less of "what is the solution." It opens the creative side of the engineering brain and, in many ways, makes the process fun again.

What is your biggest concern about the future?

The current trend in our global climate will result in increasingly destructive weather, unpredictable temperature swings, unprecedented drought and excessive flooding. We will see our current way of life severely disrupted depending on the location, intensity and duration of these events.

The consequences may manifest in several ways; natural disasters, sea-level rise and coastal flooding, food shortages, rising prices, and migrations of humans to more hospitable conditions. We will all continue to be impacted in some way. One of my biggest fears around this is that we are too slow to react. Then at some point, we will move from correction and recovery into mitigation and management, understanding that these environmental patterns are here to stay or potentially worsening.

What makes you confident that AtkinsRéalis can make a tangible difference?

AtkinsRéalis has committed to technology and people to take this challenge head-on. We've woven the idea of Engineering Net Zero, sustainability and a high level of environmental consciousness in everything we do. The depth of resources that AtkinsRéalis has globally allows us engage and remain involved in so many aspects of modern life. Whether it be our energy businesses, transportation, or our engagement with private industry, we can constantly make small, incremental changes that will potentially contribute significant improvements in technology and our way of life over time.

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