The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development




"(The Natural Advantage of Nations is) a book that is responsive to the urgent need for the education of engineers as well non technical leaders of all disciplines, who must understand and embrace the principles of sustainability to carry their businesses forward in the most competitive way, while preserving the environment for all current and future generations to enjoy."
Doug Jones, President Engineers Australia 2003/04





The Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program

Critical Literacies Portfolio

 

TNEP received grants from UNESCO (Natural Science Sector) and The Institution of Engineers Australia  (College of Environmental Engineering and Society for Sustainability and Environmental Engineering) to develop 'Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals' and 'Principles and Practices in Sustainable Development for the Engineering and Built Environment Professions'.

 
 

Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals

The engineering, design and planning professions will play a significant part in moving society to a more sustainable way of life. Recognising this, the Engineering Sustainable Solution Program (ESSP) seeks to provide engineers and built environment professionals with a core understanding of sustainability issues and opportunities as they relate to their practice. The ESSP is designed to facilitate the effective incorporation of key pieces of information, or 'critical literacies', and the design calculations, or 'design principles', relating to sustainability into engineering curricula and capacity building.

The Critical Literacies program is intended to provide teachers, lecturers, trainers and self learners with a suite of material that has been well researched, peer reviewed and trialled to assist in the acceleration of the use of such material an alert to sustainability principles and activity in the engineering profession.

Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals

Preliminaries and Keynote
Lecture 1: The Call for Sustainable Development (Summary)
Lecture 2: What has lead to a lack of Sustainability? (Summary)
Lecture 3: Sustainability as a Driver of Innovation (Summary)
Lecture 4: Emerging Technological Innovations (Summary)
Preliminaries and Keynote
Lecture 5: Efficiency – Resource Productivity Improvement (Summary)
Lecture 6: Role of ‘Systems’ for Sustainable Development (Summary)
Lecture 7: The Concept of Biomimicry – An Historical Context (Summary)
Lecture 8: Green Chemistry and Engineering – Benign by Design (Summary)
Preliminaries
Lecture 9: Rethinking the Application of Engineering Principles (Summary)
Lecture 10: Creating Value from Sustainable Development (Summary)
Lecture 11: A Whole of Society Approach (Summary)
Lecture 12: Effective Communication and Engagement (Summary)

 

Lecture 1: The Call for Sustainable Development

This lecture provides the context within which the call for sustainable development arose. The next 50 years has the potential for significant increases in the size of the global economy and significant reductions in poverty if society acts now to avert environmental damage and social deterioration. (Back)


Lecture 2: What has lead to a lack of Sustainability?
This lecture presents the next 'wave of innovation' theory. It discusses the emerging critical mass of enabling technologies that are improving business competitiveness and economic growth while reducing negative environmental pressures. It also discusses how the degree of success will depend significantly on the engineering and built environment professions. (Back)



Lecture 3: Sustainability as a Driver of Innovation
This lecture presents the next 'wave of innovation' theory. It discusses the emerging critical mass of enabling technologies that are improving business competitiveness and economic growth while reducing negative environmental pressures. It also discusses how the degree of success will depend significantly on the engineering and built environment professions. (Back)



Lecture 4: Emerging Technological Innovations
This lecture provides some examples of technological innovations that are beginning to drive 'the next Industrial Revolution' for sustainable development. It also notes the importance of existing innovations that may have the potential to be dramatically transformed. (Back)


Lecture 5: Efficiency - Resource Productivity Improvement
This lecture demonstrates that efficiency - doing more with less for longer - is a positive first step towards sustainable development. It introduces the concept of ‘efficiency’ and explains how it can lead to increased profitability and other benefits. It also discusses why efficiency on its own will not be enough to achieve sustainable development. (Back)


Lecture 6: Role of 'Systems' for Sustainable Development
This lecture introduces the main concepts of Whole System Design (WSD). It shows how WSD complements ‘design for environment’ and ‘design for sustainability’ strategies. It also introduces a ten step checklist for implementing WSD. (Back)



Lecture 7: The Concept of Biomimicry - An Historical Context
This lecture introduces the emerging field of Biomimicry and explains why it is such a powerful tool for innovation. It discusses Biomimicry as an innovation tool that can assist engineers and designers to look beyond ‘efficiency’ measures, to learn from nature’s holistic approach to design. (Back)



Lecture 8: Green Chemistry and Engineering - Benign by Design
This lecture overviews how engineers, often working with chemists, apply Green Chemistry and Green Engineering principles to built environment issues. It discusses the key role of these professionals in assisting business, the economy and society achieve sustainable development. (Back)

 

Lecture 9: Rethinking the Application of Engineering Principles
This lecture discusses the need to rethink the way we apply engineering principles to solve problems. It discusses the need to reconsider what is taught in engineering education, including problem-solving and assumptions about future workplace roles. (Back)



Lecture 10: Creating Value from Sustainable Development
This lecture provides the argument to convince a company director or board that efficiency and sustainable development can be highly profitable as well as being the right thing to do. It overviews some of the most important studies proving that what is good for the environment can also be good for the bottom line. (Back)



Lecture 11: A Whole of Society Approach
This lecture discusses the collaborative roles of professionals in achieving sustainable development. It also presents ways in which governments can contribute to the transition to a more sustainable society. (Back)



Lecture 12: Effective Communication and Engagement
This lecture introduces the ‘whole of society’ approach and discusses the need to have a strategy to deal with the myriad of stakeholder groups that may be represented in a given project. Strategic Questioning is provided as an example of an effective communication mechanism that can facilitate 'contextually sensitive' outcomes. Multi-stakeholder engagement is also discussed. (Back)



Preliminaries

Course Text Book: In the preparation of any education program, and in particular an introductory course, it is a challenge to cover all possible questions or uncertainties that may arise during delivery of the material. In response to this challenge, this course is supported by the text book developed by our team, namely 'Hargroves, K. and Smith, M.H. (2005) The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century, Earthscan, London'. References and optional reading material is provided for each lecture for those who wish to explore the content in more detail.

Acknowledgements: The development of the Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program – Critical Literacies Portfolio has been supported by grants from the following organisations:


- UNESCO, Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, Natural Sciences Sector (with particular support and mentoring from Tony Marjoram, Senior Programme Specialist - Engineering Sciences, and Françoise Lee).


- The Institution of Engineers Australia, College of Environmental Engineers (with particular support and mentoring from Martin Dwyer, Director Engineering Practice, and Peter Greenwood, Doug Jones, Andrew Downing, Tim Macoun, Julie Armstrong and Paul Varsanyi).


- The Society for Sustainability and Environmental Engineering (with particular support and mentoring from Terrence Jeyaretnam).


Expert review and mentoring has been received from Janine Benyus and Dayna Baumeister, The Biomimicry Guild (USA); Paul Anastas, Green Chemistry Institute (USA); Alan Pears RMIT University (AUS); Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute (USA); Tom Conner, KBR (AUS); and Mia Kelly, TNEP Working Group (AUS). We would like to add a special thank you to the Engineers Australia review panel Trevor Daniell, Thomas Brinsmead and David Hood.

Citation: Smith, M., Hargroves, K., Desha, C. and Palousis, N. (2007) Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program: Critical Literacies Portfolio - Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals, The Natural Edge Project, Australia. (TNEP)

The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National Commission
for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.