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Insights The rise of green building in civil engineering

Whilst the built environment has made significant improvements in recent years to combat carbon emissions and ensure the net-zero targets are met, there is still a way to go. Infrastructure projects including power plants, buildings, and transport are responsible for a staggering 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As a result, green building application has become a prominent focus in the civil engineering industry as firms carry out plans to reduce their carbon emissions. The benefits of a green technology application in construction are enormous and can offer significant benefits to both new facilities and existing structures. 

At AtkinsRéalis , our mission for civil engineers is to create sustainable solutions that connect people, data and technology to design, deliver and operate the most complex projects.

Here, we take a look at how civil engineers are adopting green building practices to help build a better future for us all.

Net-zero energy building design

Green building practices typically include technology and processes that help lessen energy consumption and, in turn, reduce carbon emissions. The global net-zero energy buildings market is on the rise and is set to reach a value of $2.1 billion by 2024.

The design of zero-energy buildings combines innovative renewable energy sources with energy efficiency to consume only as much energy as it produces. Zero energy buildings often have designs that reduce the dependence on energy sources such as air conditioning and interior heating.

Civil engineers take into account the layout of a building as well as the technology involved to ensure it has net-zero energy capabilities. For example, civil engineers can strategically place the windows within a building to encourage the use of daylight and minimise the use of electric light sources. The implementation of renewable energy applications, such as solar for electricity, is a crucial aspect of a zero-energy building design and advancements in technology are helping civil engineers achieve their green goals.  

Sustainable resources

The construction industry is one of the key sectors that’s most dependent on natural resources, such as wood, stone, and clay for its materials. However, civil engineers are now taking steps to use sustainable resources as they have a lower carbon intensity.

Using recycled materials falls into the sustainable resourcing category and is contributing to the reduction in the extraction and processing of raw materials. Civil engineers are increasingly implementing circular environment ideas such as switching to renewable materials like timber or hemp. Additionally, the construction industry is also seeing a rapid emergence of innovative techniques, such as prefabrication. These processes help to improve the efficiency of projects, whilst decreasing costs, waste and carbon.

Distributed Energy Systems

As green building begins to rise in popularity, Distributed Energy System (DES) is a development that civil engineers are increasingly using in construction projects. By using a range of innovative sensors and meters, a DES can observe and manage a building’s energy and provide data that can be used to cut costs and improve efficiency.

Many civil engineers have decided to integrate a DES into their sustainable designs to reap the benefits, which include:

  • Reduced operational costs
  • An improvement in energy reliability and efficiency
  • Substantial reduction in carbon emissions
  • Data to help improve current and future projects

AtkinsRéalis Lavalin’s push for a sustainable future

At AtkinsRéalis , taking significant steps towards a more sustainable future is our number one priority. That’s why we have made strides on our sustainability journey and will continue to embark on projects that are beneficial for our planet’s long-term future.

As signatories to the United Nations Global Compact, we have set a range of planet-saving goals, including pledging to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030. As part of the Race to Zero strategy, over the coming years we will:

  • Streamline our portfolio of projects to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and facilities,
  • implement digital communication tools to cut down on business travel and initiate behavioural change to lower energy usage,
  • design buildings and infrastructure that are energy efficient throughout the project lifecycle in collaboration with clients.

As part of this pledge, we have agreed to manage, observe and report greenhouse gas emissions regularly, apply decarbonisation processes throughout our business, and neutralise as many remaining emissions as possible.

Join us on our journey to Net Zero and apply for a job in civil engineering

We are committed to achieving our target of Net Zero emissions by partnering with clients to effect genuine change across every aspect of our projects, pioneering new technologies and ways of working, throughout our entire Group.

It is an exciting time to be starting a career in engineering and there is a huge opportunity to build a greener, safer and more resilient future for our planet and its people. Are you going to seize it?

Join us on our journey and apply for a civil engineering job today.