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Civil engineering knows no boundaries. It is the
profession creating the infrastructure of civilisation
itself: transport, sanitation, energy, safety, health and
habitation the life support systems of the modern
community. As such it makes a unique contribution
to economic growth and environmental sustainability.
The future shape of society will depend in large
measure on our profession.

Civil engineering produces men and women with a


quality and diversity of skills fitted to the dynamic
global challenges of sustainable development. The
Institution of Civil Engineers creates, encourages
and nurtures new generations of civil engineers.
Their knowledge transcends disciplines, is encapsulated within a culture of continuous learning and
operates at the forefront of innovative technical and
management processes.

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Tel +44 (0)20 7222 7722 Fax +44 (0)20 7222 7500 www.ice.org.uk

Society, sustainability
and civil engineering

SOCIETY, SUSTAINABILITY

AND

CIVIL ENGINEERING

A strategy and action plan, 20023

The Institution of Civil Engineers


Association of Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Construction Industry Research and Information Association
Construction Products Association

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Introduction

This strategy and action plan has been prepared by a


team comprising the Institution of Civil Engineers
(ICE), the Association of Consulting Engineers (ACE),
the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA),
the Construction Products Association (CPA) and the
Construction Industry Research and Information
Association (CIRIA). This document is intended to build
on the vision set out in Building a Better Quality of Life,
the government's strategy for more sustainable
construction and developed further by Sir Martin Laing's
Sustainable Construction Taskforce in their report
Towards Sustainability A Strategy for the
Construction Industry. Our report sets out a commitment to help the civil engineering industry to deliver
more sustainable civil engineering, a series of actions
that the partners to the strategy will undertake themselves, and a series of recommendations for three
other groups individual civil engineers, clients of civil
engineering, and the commercial organisations in the
civil engineering supply chain.

This document is the first such coordinated plan, and


will be updated and extended over the coming months
and years, the partners having committed themselves
to review and revise it at least annually. It is acknowledged to be a first step on the long road to a sustainable industry supplying a sustainable society, and the
team looks forward to comment and input from anyone
concerned with the future of the earth, of society
generally, and of the civil engineering industry and
infrastructure on which so much of modern life
depends.
Anyone wishing to comment, to provide suggestions
for additional content or to provide details of relevant
experience that could be used to prepare the next
version of this plan is invited to contact the Sector
Strategy Secretariat at the address given at the front of
this report (p. iv).

Published by
Institution of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street,
London, SW1P 3AA
Tel.: 020 7222 7722
Fax.: 020 7222 7500
Institution of Civil Engineers, 2002
Designed and typeset by Alex Lazarou, Surbiton, Surrey

ii

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Foreword

Statement by Brian Wilson MP, Minister of


State for Industry and Energy

Statement from the ICE, the ACE, the


CECA, CIRIA and the CPA
The ICE, the ACE, the CECA, the CPA and CIRIA are
committed to the series of actions outlined in this document, which are aimed at delivering more sustainable
civil engineering projects and, thus, making their contribution to enabling society to live more sustainably.

When government published


Building a Better Quality of Life
A Strategy for More Sustainable
Construction in April 2000, we
called on representative bodies
and trade associations to
develop complementary sectoral
strategies.
I am delighted that the civil engineering sector and
partners in its supply chain have accepted this challenge and produced this strategy and action plan.

Mark Whitby, President ICE

This strategy is another step on the road to a high


performing construction industry, wedded to the principle
of continuous improvement within a framework of
environmental and social responsibility.
Peter Bransby, Director General CIRIA

At heart, sustainability is about making sustained


improvements to our quality of life. Civil engineering
has a major contribution to make to this process as
both a major employer and generator of wealth, and as
a profession with the technical skills to deliver major
improvements to the built and natural environment.

Roy Harrison, President CPA

The challenge of sustainable construction is a major


one. I am pleased that the civil engineering sector is
committed to reviewing its progress and priorities on
an annual basis and to working with its partners in
other disciplines to implement its strategy. I wish it
success and look forward to hearing of further
progress.

Rod Macdonald, Chairman ACE

Chris Harding, Chairman CECA

iii

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Contents

1 Executive summary ................................................................................................................................................1


2 Action plan ..............................................................................................................................................................2
3 The challenge of sustainable construction ............................................................................................................6
4 The benefits and impact of civil engineering ..........................................................................................................7
5 The business case for sustainable engineering ..................................................................................................10
6 Measuring sustainability performance ..................................................................................................................13
Concluding remarks..............................................................................................................................................15
Useful contacts ....................................................................................................................................................16
Bibliography ..........................................................................................................................................................17
Summary of abbreviations used in this report ......................................................................................................18

Acknowledgements
Steering Group
Roger Venables
Chairman, Institution of Civil Engineers Environment and Sustainability Board & Crane Environmental Ltd
Mark Broadhurst
Cornwall County Council & Institution of Civil Engineers Environment and Sustainability Board
Gareth Brown
Morrison Construction & Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Jeremy Croxson
Association of Consulting Engineers
Martin Hunt
Construction Industry Research and Information Association
Tim Gamon
Institution of Civil Engineers Environment and Sustainability Board & TRL Ltd
Andrew McLusky
Independent Consultant & Institution of Civil Engineers Environment and Sustainability Board
Rita Singh
Construction Products Association
John Wilson
Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Coordinating Author and Sector Strategy Secretary
Andrew Crudgington
Institution of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA
Tel.: 020 7665 2219; Email: Andrew.Crudgington@ice.org.uk

iv

Executive summary

The civil engineering sector must address the sustainability agenda if it is to:

clients. These plans and recommendations cover the


following priority areas.

(a)








deliver improvements in efficiency and resource


productivity
meet increasing public demands for environmental and social responsible construction
demonstrate to the investment community that it
is capable of preserving and enhancing shareholder value through effective risk management
and the ability to adapt to a changing legal and
social environment
meet increasing demands from clients and end
users for improved performance from buildings
and infrastructure
recruit and retain high-calibre staff
develop the new products and techniques that will
underpin the long-term future of the industry.

(b)

(c)

Furthermore, sustainable development and sustainable


construction will not be possible without an immense
contribution from professional civil engineers in a range
of areas, including:






(d)

delivering positive environmental improvements,


for example through the provision of clean water
and sanitation, and the remediation of contaminated land
preserving and enhancing appropriate biodiversity
providing and maintaining the infrastructure,
including power and transport networks, on which
a modern economy depends
providing a safe, well-designed and accessible
built environment in which people are happy to
live out their lives.

However, civil engineering cannot be divorced from the


construction sector as a whole. In 2000, the government published Building a Better Quality of Life A
Strategy for More Sustainable Construction (DETR,
2000). To help implement this strategy, the Institution of
Civil Engineers (ICE), the Association of Consulting
Engineers (ACE), the Civil Engineering Contractors
Association (CECA), the Construction Industry
Research and Information Association (CIRIA) and the
Construction Products Association (CPA) have, in consultation with industry, government, regulators, clients
and other stakeholders, identified an action plan for
ourselves and a series of recommendations for all
organisations in the civil engineering supply chain
(including clients, contractors, direct labour organisations (DLOs), etc.), individual civil engineers and our

ICE, ACE, CECA, CIRIA and CPA (Section 2.2):


(i)
promoting the business case for sustainable
construction within the civil engineering
sector
(ii) promoting resource productivity in the civil
engineering sector
(iii) promoting cultural change and innovation in
the civil engineering industry.
Individual civil engineers (Section 2.3):
(i)
continuing professional development
(CPD), personal development and professional behaviour
(ii) knowledge sharing.
All organisations in the civil engineering supply
chain (Section 2.4):
(i)
management of impacts and resource
productivity
(ii) stakeholder engagement
(iii) accountability.
Clients and end users (Section 2.5):
(i)
client education for sustainability
(ii) stakeholder engagement
(iii) management of impacts.

Action plan

2.1 Introduction everyone can make a


contribution

These action plans and recommendations reflect


our consultation with industry, government, regulators,
clients and other stakeholders during 2001.

The first half of this action plan sets out in detail the
actions that the sector strategy steering group the
ICE, the ACE, the CECA, CIRIA and the CPA are
committed to carrying out to help deliver more sustainable construction.

We intend to review our priorities and progress against


this action plan on an annual basis.

2.2 ICE, ACE, CECA, CPA and CIRIA


priorities and actions for 20023

In the second half of the action plan we list the actions


we recommend be taken by all the organisations making
up the civil engineering industry, by individual civil engineers and by our clients. Many of the steering groups'
actions will make it easier for other stakeholders to implement our recommendations. In the next stage of this
process, the steering group will discuss actions we can
take to help others implement our recommendations.

The three tables below (Priorities 13) show the


actions the ICE, the ACE, the CECA, the CPA and
CIRIA will take to meet the priorities for action identified for trade and professional bodies.

Priority 1: Promoting the business case for sustainable construction within the civil engineering sector
Action

Participants

Expected by

1. Develop CEEQUAL (see Section 6.3 below) from feasibility


to operational phase

ICE, ACE, CECA,


CIRIA

April 2003

2. Develop a research proposal for improving understanding


and use of whole life costing and whole lifecycle
environmental assessment in the civil engineering sector

ICE, ACE, CECA,


CIRIA, CPA

September 2002

3. Dissemination and reporting on key performance indicators


(KPIs) for construction clients

ACE, ICE

June 2002

4. Sustainable Construction in Practice Roadshow

TRL, Environment
Agency, CIRIA, ICE

Autumn/winter 2002

5. Management and publication of results from CIRIA's


Sustainable Construction Indicators Pioneers Club

CIRIA

December 2003

6. Production and dissemination of at least six case studies,


demonstrating aspects of sustainable construction

ICE

September 2002

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Priority 2: Promoting resource productivity in the civil engineering industry


Action

Participants

Deadline

1. To facilitate and disseminate research and demonstration


projects by way of the ICE/Institute of Wastes Management
(IWM) Resource Sustainability Initiative (see Section 5.5).
Projects to include:
(a) development of protocol for recycling demolition waste
(b) development of best practice guidance for civil
engineering applications of tyres
(c)
mass balance and resource flow studies of London,
Scotland and Northern Ireland

ICE (with IWM)

Ongoing

ICE
ICE

April 2003
December 2002

ICE

First results (London),


September 2002

2. Development of a register of construction and demolition


waste recycling sites

CIRIA, ICE

September 2002

3. Mass balance study of construction industry

VIRIDIS with CIRIA,


ICE

June 2002

4. Construction Products Industry KPIs: to publish performance


results for the industry and sectors annually with the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) pan-industry KPIs

CPA

First results February


2002, thereafter
annually

5. Dissemination of TRL, Building Research Establishment


(BRE) and CPA tools for measuring indicators for extraction
and use of quarry products in construction

CPA, ICE, CIRIA

June 2002

Priority 3: Promoting cultural change and innovation in the civil engineering industry
Action

Participants

Expected by

Creation and Development of ICE online Environment and


Sustainability Professional Interest Network (PIN) and forum,
with free access to all

ICE

PIN in place,
development ongoing

Launch new learned society journal, Engineering Sustainability

ICE

March 2003

Roll out CPD events using materials from the Professional


Practice for Sustainable Development Project developed by
the Institute of Environmental Science, the ICE and 14 other
professional bodies

ICE

From May 2002

Open discussion with the Joint Board of Moderators with regard


to the sustainability content of undergraduate courses

ICE

To be confirmed

Promote publication of sustainability reporting in annual reports

ACE, CECA, ICE

Ongoing

Promote adoption of environmental management systems

ACE, CECA, ICE

Ongoing

Open discussion with GCCP and the CCC with a view to


developing client education materials

ICE, ACE, CECA

To be confirmed

Production and dissemination of 15 ICE Environmental Position


Statements

ICE

April 2002

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

2.3 Recommended actions for individual


civil engineers

(c)

The ICE recognises that it has a special role in providing the leadership and resources that will allow individual civil engineers to meet these priorities. To this end,
the ICE's network of regional liasion officers and local
associations will be asked to advise members of the
following priorities.

2.4 Recommended actions for all organisations in the civil engineering supply
chain
Case studies on a range of topics, including whole life
costing, sustainable construction, supply chain management, partnering, lean construction, integrated
design and construction, IT, heath and safety, and
culture and people, can be found at the Movement for
Innovation (M4i) website (http://www.m4i.org.uk/innovations/). In making the recommendations below, we
point companies towards the lessons learnt through
the M4i case studies and encourage them to submit
proposals for inclusion in M4i's register of demonstration projects at http://www.m4i.org.uk/membership/.
Alternatively, the ICE will also be publishing a series of
Good Practice Case Sheets. To submit a case sheet
proposal, contact the Sector Strategy Secretariat at the
address at the front of this report (p. iv).

Priority 1: CPD, personal development and professional behaviour


(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Individuals to ensure that their CPD programmes


equip them to deal with sustainable development
issues. CIRIA's Construction Industry Environmental
Forum (CIEF) (certified by the Construction CPD
Service and recognised by the ICE) stages over
30 seminars and workshop per year (details at
http://www.ciria.org.uk/cief_events.htm).
To adhere to the standards set out in the ICE's
Environmental Policy Statement Civil Engineers
and the Environment and to keep up-to-date with
the ICE's Environmental Position Statements (all
available at www.ice.org.uk).
To engage with the ICE's online Professional
Interest Networks (PINs), particularly the
Environment and Sustainability PIN (at
www.ice.org.uk).
Develop an understanding of key components of
sustainable construction, including:
(i)
whole lifecycle environmental assessment/
whole life costing
(ii) nature conservation and biodiverity issues
(iii) waste minimisation/resource productivity
(iv) the use of environmental management
systems
(v) community engagement
(vi) design for disassembly
(vii) alternative design solutions, e.g. Sustainable
Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

Priority 1: Improve management of impacts and


resource productivity
(a)

(b)

(c)
(d)
(e)

(f )

Priority 2: Knowledge sharing


(a)

(b)

To increase effectiveness of (a) and (b), and


identify and focus on likely opinion leaders
among professional colleagues and contacts.

(g)

Analyse the sustainability performance of


projects and share the results with professional
colleagues and, where possible, the ICE
Environment and Sustainability PIN.
Share and promote information on tools, standards and methodologies contributing to sustainable construction with professional colleagues.

Designers and contractors to develop an understanding of whole lifecycle environmental assessment, trial its use and make results publicly
available.
Design, specify and use recycled materials or
materials with lower than normal environmental
impact based on whole life performance.
Introduce an environmental management system.
Create mechanisms for sharing sustainability
best practice within companies.
Develop and implement waste minimisation policies at all stages of the design and construction
process.
Develop skills in the reuse and improvement of
existing built assets.
Develop an understanding of biodiversity impacts
of projects on the chosen site.

Priority 2: Stakeholder engagement


(a)

Supply chain all parties, including contractors,


designers, suppliers and clients, to engage at the
earliest possible stages of projects. Lessons on

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

(b)

(c)

(d)

different means of ensuring continuity in the supply chain can be learnt from the M4i demonstration projects at http://www.m4i.org.uk/innovations/.
Financial world to open a dialogue with the
City and other financial institutions to promote the
benefits of investment in companies pursuing
sustainability policies.
Communities learn from and employ best
practice in community consultation and involvement, see CIRIA/CIEF (Construction Industry
Environmental Forum) briefing note Community
Interaction (2001).
Clients to actively promote the benefits of
sustainable construction to clients.

(iv)

(b)
(c)

link between best value and sustainable


construction
(v) the incentives for developers to provide
sustainability features for end users
(vi) consideration of refurbishment over new
build
(vii) locations of projects in relation to transport
and other services.
Create mechanisms for sharing sustainability
best practice within organisations.
Understand and promote the benefits to end
users of improved sustainability performance,
e.g. reduced energy usage and easier maintenance.

Priority 3: Accountability

Priority 2: Stakeholder engagement

(a)

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Include sustainability reporting in company annual


report.
Develop and publish company policy in key areas
such as:
(i)
staff employment conditions
(ii) green transport plans
(iii) pension fund investment.
Develop and use transparent processes for planning, designing and constructing projects, and
take positive steps to ensure that this information
is available to all stakeholders.
Develop existing health and safety practices.

(b)

Priority 3: Management of Impacts


(a)

2.5 Clients and end users

(b)

We recognise that our agenda will require positive


action and investment by clients. A key action for the
Sector Strategy Steering Group is therefore to open
negotiations with major clients and their representative
organisations to discuss means of implementing these
recommendations.

(c)
(d)

Priority 1: Client education in sustainability


(a)

Earliest possible engagement with all parts of the


supply chain. Lessons on supply chain engagement are available from M4i demonstration projects (http://www.m4i.org.uk/innovations/).
Major clients to proactively engage with local
authorities over local plan development to help
ensure that planning applications are not submitted for unsuitable sites/land use and transport
planning are effectively linked.

To develop training for procurement staff in sustainability awareness in consultation with trade
and professional groups. Issues that might be
covered include:
(i)
whole lifecycle environmental assessment
(ii) use of specifications
(iii) importance of time for dismantling and sorting, pre-tender discussion, etc.

Develop an understanding of whole lifecycle environmental assessment, trial its use and make
results publicly available.
Insist on positive action by designers and contractors to minimise the waste of human and
physical resources.
Seek opportunities for refurbishment over new
build.
Take part in demonstration projects on sustainability practice.

The challenge of sustainable construction

This definition draws the useful distinction between the


objective of sustainability, an end state in which all
human activities can be maintained within the carrying
capacity of the earth, and sustainable development,
the process by which we can move towards that goal.
Within this statement it is possible to make out the
three key themes of sustainable development, the
triple bottom line (see Fig. 2) of:

By working together, the ICE, the ACE, the CECA,


CIRIA and the CPA have sought to apply the strategic
vision set out in the Department of the Environment,
Transport and Regions' (DETR) Building a Better
Quality of Life, A Strategy for More Sustainable
Construction and developed in Towards Sustainability,
the first report of the Sustainable Construction Task
Group chaired by Sir Martin Laing (see Fig. 1) to the
civil engineering sector.





What do we mean by sustainability and sustainable


development? Writing in Civil Engineering in November
2000, Sara Parkin, Director of Forum for the Future,
suggests that: 'Sustainable development is a process
which enables all people to realise their potential and
improve their quality of life in ways that simultaneously
protect and enhance the Earth's life support systems.'

social progress that meets the needs of everyone


high and stable economic growth and employment
effective protection and enhancement of the environment with prudent use of natural resources,

all of which needs to be achieved in the context of a


continuous improvement in resource efficiency.

A Better Quality of Life A Strategy for Sustainable Developement in the UK (DETR, 1999)

Towards Sustainability, A Strategy for the Construction Industry


(Sustainable Construction Focus Group/Construction Confederation,
2000)
Building a Better Quality of Life, A Strategy for
Sustainable Construction (DETR, 2000)

Steps to Sustainability
Promoting awareness and educating people

Themes for Action

Steps to sustainability

Reuse existing built assets

Collecting information on sustainability initiatives

Design for minimum waste

Collecting practical examples of sustainability in action

Aim for lean construction

Monitoring and observing performance

Minimise energy in use

Demonstrating a clear business case for more sustainable buildings


and construction

Do not pollute
Preserve and enhance biodiversity

Stakeholder dialogue

Conserve water resources

Spreading best practice

Respect people and their local environment

Settling and promoting targets

Set targets

Establishing a voluntary code of reporting


Reviewing performance
Learning from failures

Society, Sustainability and Civil Engineering An Action Plan and Strategy (ICE, ACE, CECA, CPA and CIRIA, 2002)


Fig. 1. Relationship of strategy and action plan to other initiatives
Environment

Society

Sustainable development

Economy

 Fig. 2. The triple bottom line

The benefits and impact of civil engineering

4.1 Imagine life without civil engineering




To understand the huge positive contribution civil engineering and civil engineers can make in this area we
need to understand our impact on the 'triple bottom
line', referred to in Section 3.





The industry has constructed nearly 400 000 miles of


roads in the UK and almost 11 000 miles of railway
track that is still in use. The industry is responsible for
constructing and maintaining many high-profile facilities, such as the Channel Tunnel, the Cardiff Bay
Barrage, the London Underground, sewerage systems,
as well as thousands of smaller, less well-known, but
equally important, projects throughout the country.

It is difficult to assess the impact of any industry sector


in isolation from the rest of the economy, particularly so
in the case of civil engineering, inextricably linked as it
is to the wider construction sector. However, a good
way to get a feel for the industry's contrubution to society is to pose the question, 'imagine life without civil
engineering'.
In the last 50 years, for example, civil engineering has
brought:






reclamation of industrial land and urban regeneration


water distribution networks and water purification
plants
waste management infrastructure
flood and coastal protection
heritage conservation.

The industry employs around 220 000 engineers, other


construction professional staff, managers and operatives in the UK alone. Together, their output is worth
around 12.5 billion a year. This figure includes the
value of materials produced by other sectors that are
used in civil engineering works. Without these, excluding materials, civil engineering accounts for around 2%
of gross domestic product (GDP).

potable water to millions


effective treatment of sewage and waste other
than waste waters, with dramatic reductions in
discharges of pollutants to rivers and the sea
reliable electricity supplies (working in partnership
with electrical engineers)
extensive reclamation of contaminated land and
its subsequent beneficial development
extensive flood defences.

Such are the public health benefits of many parts of


the civil engineering spectrum that it has been suggested that civil engineering is responsible for greater
improvements in this area than the medical profession.

As an integral part of the economy, the civil engineering industry has a major effect on other industries
through the purchase of materials, including cement,
aggregates and steel. In addition, the industry is
responsible for the provision of power and an efficient
distribution network two key factors underpinning
the UK's prosperity.

4.2 The economy

4.3 The environment

4.3.1 Managing our environmental impacts

The civil engineering industry is responsible for


designing, constructing and maintaining a huge range
of projects, including:










Civil engineering can, and does, make a positive


impact to the environment in many areas. However, as
professionals we are responsible for minimising negative impacts where they arise. Some indicative figures
for the environmental impact of the whole construction
sector include:

roads
railways
docks, harbours, jetties, inland waterways and
coastal protection
dams and reservoirs
power stations
airports
bridges, viaducts and other structures
waste water treatment works

72.5 million tonnes of construction and demolition


waste was produced in England and Wales in
1999, however, 35% of this waste was recycled
and a further 13% was used for engineering on
landfill sites (Environment Agency, 2001)

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING




the quarrying of about 220 million tonnes of


aggregate in England and Wales in 1998
the use of 24% of total energy consumption by
industry in the UK in 1996 for the manufacture
and transportation of construction materials
(Quality of Life Counts, DETR, 1999).

Contaminated land
The remediation of land contaminated by previous
industrial and commercial uses reduces risks to the
environment and human health, and relieves pressure
to develop green sites. Civil engineering measures,
such as on-site containment of pollutants, can also
remove the need to extract contaminated land and to
then transport the material to a hazardous waste landfill.

Civil engineering, as part of the construction sector,


has a profound impact on the natural environment
both negative and positive. This is recognised by the
legal requirement to conduct an environmental impact
assessment (EIA) for major projects measuring their
impact on a range of 'receptors', including human
beings, flora, fauna, soil, water, air, landscape, climate
and material assets.

Water
Infrastructure built and maintained by civil engineers
ensures that a supply of water of appropriate quality for
the basic public health needs of every user in the UK is
available at all times. Improved planning and management of this system, within an overall framework of
river basin management, can reduce the need for
groundwater abstraction with its damaging effects on
river flows and wetlands.

Beyond the regulatory control of the EIA, many civil


engineering companies are now looking to control the
environmental consequences of all of their operations
through the development and implementation of an
environmental management system (EMS). This allows
an organisation to manage its operations in line with a
clearly defined environmental policy, objectives and
procedures.

To help engineers understand the key environmental


issues arising from their work, the ICE has published
Environmental Position Statements on coastal management, contaminated land, energy, energy use in buildings, environmental management and liability, transport,
transport and land use planning, urban regeneration,
waste management and water resources, and these
can be downloaded free at www.ice.org.uk.

A particular challenge for the civil engineering sector is


that many of its environmental impacts relate to the
temporary construction phase as well as the longerterm impacts of the completed project. At any one
time, one company may have environmental responsibilities on a range of sites, distinguished by differences in client, output, legal and planning requirements and other local factors. Environmental management practices therefore need to be flexible enough to
suit individual site or project requirements, while
achieving overall improvements in environmental
performance.

4.4 Society and the built environment


The social element of sustainability is often hardest to
grasp. A useful way of looking at this issue is to think in
terms of impacts internal and external to the industry.
Civil engineering provides employment in the industry
and its supply chain. The employment, health and
safety, and other business practices of companies
within the industry have a similar direct impact on their
employees and a range of other stakeholders.

4.3.2 The positive environmental impact of civil


engineering works
All of the above must be set against the fact that
many civil engineering schemes are delivering a
direct improvement to our environment and quality of
life.

Externally, all construction work has a direct impact on


the quality of life of local people in the construction and
operational phase of projects and, in some cases such
as airports, very large surrounding areas.

Transport
Engineers have a key role in planning and providing
facilities for more sustainable transport options,
such as walking, cycling and high-quality public
transport.

On a more complex level, civil engineering and construction provide the physical fabric in which people
live their lives. The Value of Urban Design (DETR and

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

the Commission for Architecture and the Built


Environment, 2001) lists a huge range of socio-environmental impacts of good urban design, over which
civil engineering and civil engineers can potentially
have an enormous impact, including:








creating well-connected, inclusive and accessible


new places
delivering development sensitive to its context
enhancing the sense of safety within and beyond
developments
boosting civic pride and enhancing civic image
creating more energy efficient and less polluting
development
opening up investment opportunities, raising confidence in development opportunities and attracting
grant monies.

4.5 Meeting future needs


The value placed on green space or civic pride is
largely subjective, adding to the difficulty in trying to
construct a holistic justification for a project. This does
not mean that these issues can be ignored. On the
contrary, our consultations suggest that one of the
most important issues we face is securing community
confidence and involvement in all stages of civil engineering projects.
In attempting to assess the sustainability of projects,
we are also faced with difficult issues, such as the
boundary to be drawn when calculating social, economic and environmental impacts and assessing the
greater good. The existing land use planning system
does not always provide a satisfactory mechanism for
providing answers to these questions. One solution
may be to develop an EIA into a wider sustainability
impact assessment. However, before such an assessment method could be introduced there must be a
national debate on how these fundamental issues can
be resolved and an acceptable system of measurement established.

The business case for sustainable engineering

5.1 Efficiency and profitability

For example, the Government Construction Clients


Panel, which is responsible for 40% of annual UK construction spend, launched its Sustainability Action Plan
in July 2000. The action plan provides targets against
each of the ten 'Themes for Action' in Building a Better
Quality of Life, and individual departments, agencies
and non-departmental public bodies have undertaken to
assess their current situation against these goals and to
develop their own action plans.

Active management of sustainability performance can


deliver significant improvements in business efficiency
and profitability. The use of partnering and PFI (Private
Finance Initiative) arrangements will increasingly give
consultants and contractors the incentive of a direct
and long-term interest in the performance of completed
facilities.

Many of the advantages outlined in Section 5.1 will


also accrue to the client. Other advantages to the client
include:

Improved company environmental performance can


achieve significant short-term business benefits. For
example, lean construction and efficient resource use
can generate quantifiable cost savings, as can reduced
energy consumption in business activities. Project
case studies can be found at the M4i website
(http://www.m4i.org.uk/innovations). (Section 6.1 provides
details of the high performance of these projects
compared to industry norms.) Other benefits of adopting
the sustainability approach include:












reducing landfill costs by increasing recycling


reduced transport costs through using local suppliers
increased efficiency and capacity for self-regulation through the introduction of environmental
management systems
positive publicity arising from environmental
improvement schemes producing future tendering
opportunities
avoidance of pollution incidents or environmental
degradation, leading to fines and court costs and
damage to reputation.

5.3 The investment community


5.3.1 Socially responsible investment
Socially Responsible Investment Funds (SRIs) represent a small but financially significant proportion of
investment in public companies. Increased consumer
concern about the conduct of companies and the funds
invested in them on their behalf by their pension funds
will see this sector grow in future years.

Furthermore, by working with local communities, local


opposition to the project can be reduced, enabling:





demonstration by developers that they are meeting end users' expectations


potential for enhanced shareholder value
hedging against future legislation/regulation
demonstration of corporate citizenship and social
responsibility.

5.3.2 Trends in mainstream investment


The investment community is increasingly aware of the
risks posed by companies with poor environmental and
social performance. Interbrand, the global branding
consultancy, estimates that 25% of the world's financial
wealth is held in intangible assets, such as reputation
and brand. Companies also need to demonstrate that
they are capable of adapting to future legislative
changes, managing stakeholder relations and, crucially,
recruiting and retaining high quality staff. These trends
have been encouraged by a number of regulatory
developments described below.

planning permissions to be achieved more quickly


and at reduced costs
minimisation of delays and site security costs
arising from direct action during the construction
phase
positive publicity for all project stakeholders.

5.2 Meeting client expectations

(a)
Many leading clients are now demanding better environmental and social performance from their supply chain.

10

Pension Scheme Disclosure from July 2000,


all company pension schemes have been
obliged to disclose 'the extent to which social,

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

(b)

environmental or ethical considerations are taken


into account in the selection, retention and realisation of investments'. In response, fund managers
are increasingly seeking relevant information
from the companies in which they invest.
TheTurnbull Report (Internal Control, Guidance
for Directors on the Combined Code, Institute of
Chartered Accountants in England and Wales,
September 1999) presses listed companies to
report on their approach to risk, including risks
relating to environmental performance and business probity. Failure to disclose adequate information in an annual report is likely to lead to an
adverse impact on share price.

As part of our action plan, the ICE and its partners will
begin discussions with researchers and companies
working in this area to assess the current state of
knowledge and practice, and how this can be developed. For instance, all new build and major maintenance works within the Highways Agency's construction programme are whole life costed using standard
models developed by the Transport Research
Laboratory (TRL).

5.5.2 Resource productivity

5.4 Long-term benefits

Resource Productivity: Making More with Less


(Performance and Innovation Unit, the Cabinet Office,
November 2001) states that a key policy aim of government is 'achieving continued economic growth without
the unacceptable costs of environmental and social
degradationproducing more goods and services with
fewer inputs of materials and energy, and with less
pollution and waste'.

As Sections 5.15.3 show, there are long-term benefits


for companies adopting a sustainability approach,
including:








market differentiation and new product opportunities (e.g. green technologies)


securing long-term investment
managing risk to reputation/brand
recruitment and retention of staff
easy adoption to future legislative and societal
changes
protection and enhancement of shareholder
value.

The ICE and its partners have already put a number of


projects in train in this area.
(a)

5.5 Key challenges for building the


business case

(b)

5.5.1 Whole life costing/whole lifecycle


environmental assessment

(c)

The use of these tools was identified in our consultation as the top priority for building up the business
case. However, industry take up will be dependent on:




an easy to use mechanism for including whole life


costing and whole lifecycle environmental assessment in tender documents.

Resource Sustainability Initiative (RSI) the


ICE is working with the Institute of Wastes
Management and seven registered environmental
bodies (EBs) to facilitate a programme of
research aimed at improving resource management in all phases of the construction process.
CIRIA Directory of Construction Waste Recycling
Sites CIRIA are developing an online directory
of such sites that will be freely available from
September 2002.
Mass Balance of Construction Industry project by
CIRIA and VIRIDIS a project to measure
material use by the industry. Scheduled to report
in June 2002.

5.5.3 Education and training

a simple definition of whole life costing and whole


lifecycle environmental assessment, and an
understanding of how results from the two techniques will differ
access to reliable data to allow consistent and
accurate whole life costing and whole lifecycle
environmental assessment to be carried out

The education and training of engineers, both through


their university courses and their ongoing CPD programmes, must prepare them for, and enable them to,
respond to the challenge of sustainability. As a first
step, the ICE has been working with the Institute of
Environmental Sciences, the Environment Agency, the

11

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Natural Step


and 14 other professional bodies on Professional
Practice for Sustainable Development (PP4SD). This
project has developed CPD materials for a foundation
course in sustainability for professionals.

5.6 Barriers to sustainable construction


As part of our consultation with industry and other
stakeholders, we asked people to identify the most
significant barriers to achieving more sustainable civil
engineering that they would like to see addressed.
The results of this exercise were:





a need to raise awareness of sustainable development issues throughout the industry


the industry to engage more successfully and earlier with clients and the supply chain to enable the
implementation of sustainability principles at all
stages of the construction process
legal and regulatory issues such as the interpretation of the definition of waste.

12

Measuring sustainability performance

Measurement and continuous improvement is vital if


the industry is to deliver sustained improvements in its
sustainability performance. Within the construction
sector, a number of systems are currently available to
allow measurement of industry, company and project
performance.

the industry, not least a move away from competitive


tendering towards long-term partnership arrangements
based on clear measures of performance and sustained improvements in quality and efficiency. A set of
standardised KPIs were developed by industry and the
DTI, with industry performance against the KPIs published annually. Table 1, published in July 2001, shows
the latest figures for the industry. The M4i is one strand
of the implementation process for Rethinking
Construction, which manages over 170 demonstration
projects. These projects embrace a range of innovative
practices central to sustainable construction, including
partnering arrangements between client, contractor
and supplier, down to the use of whole life costing,
lean construction and standardisation and preassembly. As Table 1 illustrates, application of the KPIs to the
M4i demonstration projects shows a clear performance
advantage.

6.1 How is the industry currently


performing?
The business performance of the construction industry
underpins its ability to contribute to sustainable development and has been the focus of considerable attention in recent years. Sir John Egan's 1998 report,
Rethinking Construction, proposed radical changes for

Table 1. Construction industry KPIs (DTI, July 2001)


KPI

Measure

1999

2000

M4i 2000

Client satisfaction product

Per cent scoring 8/10 or better

73%

72%

93%

Client satisfaction service

Per cent scoring 8/10 or better

63%

63%

76%

Defects

Per cent scoring 8/10 or better

65%

53%

86%

Predictability cost design

Per cent on target or better

64%

63%

61%

Predictability cost construction

Per cent on target or better

45%

52%

66%

Predictability time design

Per cent on target or better

37%

41%

67%

Predictability time construction

Per cent on target or better

62%

60%

69%

Profitability

Median profit before interest


and tax

4.7%

5.5%

7.1%

Productivity

Mean turnover/employed

27 000

28 000

36 000

Safety

Mean accident incident rate

1037

1088

620

Cost

Change compared with one


year ago

2%

+2%

7.1%

Time

Change compared with one


year ago

+3%

+1%

12.9%

13

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

6.2 Developing the industry KPIs

profitability, timely delivery, investment in training, and


health and safety.

The existing industry KPIs are currently being extended


in a number of areas.

6.2.3. Construction Products Industry KPIs/


aggregate production site indicators and
construction indicators

6.2.1 Environmental performance and respect


for people indicators

The first Construction Products Industry KPIs were


launched in January 2002. The indicators comprise an
initial set of ten indicators focusing on areas of key concern, such as customer satisfaction, people, and environmental issues. The CPA will publish performance
results of the industry and sectors annually with the
DTI's pan-industry KPI results (see Section 6.1 above).

The M4i launched its environmental performance indicators and benchmarks in July 2001. The initial suite of
indicators covers:








operational energy
embodied energy
transport energy
water use
waste in the construction process
biodiversity.

The Construction Products Industry KPIs will be


complemented by two sets of indicators, Aggregate
Production Site Indicators and Construction Site
Indicators, produced by a project being led by the
TRL. These indicators will allow construction clients,
contractors and suppliers to benchmark the main
environmental impacts associated with the production
and consumption of aggregates.

Specialist indicators for civil engineering projects will


draw on information emerging from the CEEQUAL
project (see Section 6.3.3 below).
A pilot suite of 'Respect for People' indicators were
also launched in July 2001, covering:












6.3 New measures of sustainability


performance

employee satisfaction
staff turnover
sickness absence
safety
working hours
travelling time
diversity
training
pay
Investors in People status.

A number of current projects will provide the means to


provide an even fuller picture of the industries sustainability performance.

6.3.1 OECD report on sustainable construction


in the UK
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) is currently reviewing UK environmental and sustainable development performance.
A key focus of this review will be construction, focusing
on the UK's approach to sustainable construction. The
OECD report is expected in June 2002.

6.2.2 KPIs for construction consultants


The first set of performance indicators for construction
consultants were launched in August 2001 by the
ACE. The consultants' indicators were backed by the
Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the ICE, government and the Construction Industry Council. The KPIs
apply to consulting engineers, architects and chartered surveyors, and are based on data from member
firms and from Companies' House figures. The 15
indicators focus on client satisfaction, value for money,

6.3.2. CIRIA sustainable construction company


indicators
This CIRIA report describes a range of indicators to
measure the sustainability of a company providing

14

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

6.3.5 Government Construction Clients' Panel


Sustainability Action Plan

design or construction services. The inidicators are


being measured through the CIRIA Pioneers club (see
Section 6.3.4 below).

The government's Strategy for More Sustainable


Construction highlights the role of government and its
procurement practices as a key driver for improved
practice. The GCCP (Government Construction Clients'
Panel) launched its Sustainability Action Plan in July
2000 on 'Achieving Sustainability in Construction
Procurement ' . The action plan provides targets against
each of the ten 'Themes for Action' in the government's
strategy. Individual departments, agencies and nondepartmental public bodies have undertaken to assess
their current situation against these goals and to
develop their own action plans

6.3.3 CEEQUAL
A Civil Engineering Environmental Quality
Assessment and Award Scheme the ICE is leading
a pan-industry group to develop an assessment and
award scheme, applicable to all civil engineering projects. CEEQUAL will support clients and designers in
dealing positively with the environmental quality
issues in their civil engineering projects, and to integrate this thinking into the design and construction
processes. CEEQUAL will complement the existing
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment
Environmental Assessment Method) used for buildings. The feasibility stage of this project will be completed in April 2002 and it is hoped to have a scheme
in operation by the end of 2003.

To help them report their progress against the action


plan, a toolkit has been developed (March 2002) that
enables organisations to assess their progress from
'doing nothing' to meeting the commitments under the
action plan by March 2004.

6.3.4 CIRIA Sustainable Construction Indicators


and Pioneers Club

6.3.6 Highways Agency's performance and


procurement indicators

Working with industry, CIRIA has identified a series of


indicators against which companies can measure the
sustainability of their business and the activities they
perform. The recently formed Pioneers Club encourages leading companies to pioneer the use of CIRIA's
sustainability indicators to assess, improve and report
on their performance.

The Highways Agency has already begun the process


of identifying the appropriate indicators, from the CIRIA
series, to measure the performance of its construction
and maintenance contractors.
Some performance indicators are being tested within
existing maintenance contracts and will be introduced
more widely in the future. A requirement to agree sustainability indicators and report against them has been
introduced into the latest private-finance road scheme.
A report on the selection of the indicators and the results
of the tests will be published by the TRL later in 2002.

Over 30 months, beginning from July 2001, the club


members have been, and will be, working on implementing the indicators by way of the following activities:







identification of key sustainability issues


identification of appropriate performance measurement indicators
analysis of data to determine key performance
improvement requirements
implementation of performance improvement
initiatives
preparation of information for a sustainability
report.

Concluding remarks
The strategy and action plan has been developed
and published to promote action towards significantly more sustainable civil engineering. The
partners look forward to working together and
with their own members and others in the
industry to deliver the plan and sustainable civil
engineering.

The study will also consider the political issues


involved in introducing the indicators throughout a
company's operations.

15

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Useful contacts

Association of Consulting Engineers


Tel.: 020 7222 6557; Fax: 020 7222 0750
www.acenet.co.uk

Department of Trade and Industry, Construction


Directorate
www.dti.gov.uk/construction/

Building Research Establishment


Tel.: 01923 664000
www.bre.co.uk

English Nature
Tel.: (0)1733 455000
www.english-nature.org.uk/

Business in the Community


Tel.: 0870 600 2482
www.bitc.org.uk

Environment Agency
Tel.: 01454 624400
www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Business in the Environment


Tel.: 0870 600 2482
www.business-in-environment.org.uk

Envirowise (Environmental advice for business)


Tel.: 0800 585794
www.envirowise.gov.uk

Construction Best Practice Programme


Tel.: 0845 605 55 56
www.cbpp.org.uk

Forum for the Future


Tel.: 020 7251 6070
www.forumforthefuture.org.uk

Confederation of Construction Clients


Tel.: 020 7921 1670
www.clientsuccess.org.uk

Friends of the Earth UK


Tel.: 020 7490 1555
www.foe.co.uk/

Civil Engineering Contractors Association


Tel.: 020 7608 5060
www.ceca.co.uk

Government Construction Clients Panel


Tel.: 020 7271 2624
www.property.gov.uk/services/construction/gccp/gccp.html

Construction Industry Research and Information


Association (including the Construction Industry
Environmental Forum)
Tel.: 020 7222 8891
www.ciria.org.uk

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and


Wales
www.icaew.co.uk
Institute of Environmental Sciences
Tel.: 01778 394846
http://ies-uk.org/

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment


Tel.: 020 7960 2400
www.cabe.org.uk

Institute of Wastes Management


Tel.: 01604 620426
www.iwm.co.uk

Construction Products Association


Tel.: 020 7323 3770
www.constprod.org.uk

Movement for Innovation (M4i)


Tel.: 01923 664820
www.m4i.org.uk
(Case studies at www.m4i.org.uk/innovations/)

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs,


Sustainable Development Unit
Tel.: 020 7944 6485.
www.defra.gov.uk/environment/sustainable/index.htm

16

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and


Development
www.oecd.org

Transport Research Laboratory


Tel.: 01344 770007
www.tr.co.uk

Royal Institution of British Architects


www.architecture.com

UK Social Investment Forum


Tel.: 020 7749 4880
www.uksif.org

Royal Town Planning Institute


Tel.: 020 7929 9494
www.rtpi.org.uk

Urban Design Alliance


Tel.: 020 7251 5529
www.udal.org

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency


Tel.: 01786 457700
www.sepa.org.uk

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)


Tel.: 01295 819900
www.wrap.org.uk

Sustainable Development Commission


Tel.: 020 7944 4964
www.sd-commission.gov.uk/

WWF UK
www.wwf-uk.org

Bibliography

A Better Quality of Life, Department of the


Environment, Transport and the Regions, May 1999.

Internal Control, Guidance for Directors on the


Combined Code, Institute of Chartered Accountants in
England and Wales, September 1999.

Achieving Sustainability in Construction Procurement,


Government Construction Clients Panel, July 2000.

Resource Productivity: Making More with Less,


Cabinet Office, November 2001.

Building a Better Quality of Life A Strategy for More


Sustainable Construction, Department of the
Environment Transport and the Regions, April 2000.

Rethinking Construction, Department of the


Environment, Transport and the Regions, July 1998.

Civil Engineers and the Environment Environmental


Policy Statement, Institution of Civil Engineers, 1998.

Towards Sustainability, Sustainable Construction Task


Force/Construction Confederation, June 2000.

Sustainable Development: Making it Happen,


Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Civil
Engineering, 2000, Vol. 138, November, Special Issue 2.

Quality of Life Counts, Department of the Environment,


Transport and the Regions, December 1999.
The Value of Urban Design, Department of the
Environment, Transport and the Regions/Commission
for Architecture and the Built Environment, February
2001.

Community Interaction, CIEF Workshop Report, CIRIA,


2001.
Construction Waste Survey, Environment Agency,
Spring 2000.

17

S OCIETY, S USTAINABILITY AND C IVIL E NGINEERING

Summary of abbreviations used in this report

ACE

Association of Consulting Engineers

BRE

Building Research Establishment

BREEAM

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method

CCC

Construction Clients Confederation

CECA

Civil Engineering Contractors Association

CEEQUAL

Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment and Award Scheme

CIEF

Construction Industry Environmental Forum

CIRIA

Construction Industry Research and Information Association

CPA

Construction Products Association

CPD

Continuing Professional Development

DETR

Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (now defunct)

DLO

Direct Labour Organisation

DTI

Department of Trade and Industry

EA

Environment Agency

EB

Environmental Body (as specified in the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme)

EIA

Environmental Impact Assessment

EMS

Environmental Management System

GCCP

Government Construction Clients' Panel

ICE

Institution of Civil Engineers

IWM

Institute of Wastes Management

KPI

Key Performance Indicators

M4i

Movement for Innovation

NGO

Non-Governmental Organisation

OECD

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

PFI

Private Finance Initiative

PII

Partners in Innovation

PIN

Professional Interest Network (accessible through the ICE website)

PP4SD

Professional Practice for Sustainable Development

SEPA

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

SRI

Social Responsible Investment

SUDS

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

TRL

Transport Research Laboratories

WLC

Whole Lifecycle Costing

WLCEA

Whole Lifecycle Environmental Assessment

WRAP

Waste and Resources Action Programme

WWF

World Wide Fund for Nature

18

www.ice.org.uk
Civil engineering knows no boundaries. It is the
profession creating the infrastructure of civilisation
itself: transport, sanitation, energy, safety, health and
habitation the life support systems of the modern
community. As such it makes a unique contribution
to economic growth and environmental sustainability.
The future shape of society will depend in large
measure on our profession.

Civil engineering produces men and women with a


quality and diversity of skills fitted to the dynamic
global challenges of sustainable development. The
Institution of Civil Engineers creates, encourages
and nurtures new generations of civil engineers.
Their knowledge transcends disciplines, is encapsulated within a culture of continuous learning and
operates at the forefront of innovative technical and
management processes.

One Great George Street Westminster London SW1P 3AA United Kingdom
Tel +44 (0)20 7222 7722 Fax +44 (0)20 7222 7500 www.ice.org.uk

Society, sustainability
and civil engineering