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2009 Annual Report -- Sustainability

Creating a Sustainable Future

In the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, ASCE defined a vision for civil engineers in which they would “create a sustainable world and enhance the global quality of life.”   Furthermore, civil engineers would be leaders in achieving that vision.

Driven in part by President Klotz's campaign to embrace and drive change, as stated in his "ABC" platform, 2009 was the year that sustainability became a major theme for ASCE. Klotz appointed a task force to collect all of the sustainability efforts within various units of the Society and determine how ASCE could become the leader in sustainability for engineered projects. The task force was elevated to a Board-level committee.

Sustainability Triple Bottom LineAs a first step, ASCE amended its definition of sustainability to recognize a “triple bottom line” approach which focuses on the environmental, economic and social well-being of the built and natural environment. In addition, the Society established sustainability as a continuing education requirement in ASCE’s Academies through Civil Engineering Certification Inc.  A sustainable engineering certification program is being planned with a launch date in 2010.

Development of a companion tool, an online infrastructure project rating system which would allow certified sustainable engineers to establish a standard for sustainable civil infrastructure projects for the future, is also underway.

Carrying our commitment to sustainability beyond our borders, ASCE co-signed a statement on climate change, along with the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE), at the June Triennial Conference in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada.  The document committed ICE, CSCE, and ASCE to a set of engineering and public policy priorities intended to reduce emissions in the life cycle of infrastructure systems worldwide and allow for better adaptation to the effects of climate change.

To help showcase our leadership in sustainability, ASCE sponsored the Environmental Protection Agency P3 (green technology) Sustainability Design Expo on the National Mall in April.  A volunteer team composed of ASCE and Engineers Without Borders-USA members and staff ran a display booth which featured an interactive, hands-on water filtering activity for kids and families. ASCE presented a $1,000 award to a student team for their entry of an innovative new technology created to improve society’s sustainability.