Approved by the Committee for Sustainability on April 9, 2010
Approved by the Policy Review Committee May 7, 2010
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 10, 2010
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) defines sustainability as a set of economic, environmental and social conditions in which all of society has the capacity and opportunity to maintain and improve its quality of life indefinitely, without degrading the quantity, quality or the availability of natural resources and ecosystems. Moreover, sustainable development is the process of converting natural resources into products and services that are more profitable, productive, and useful, while maintaining or enhancing the quantity, quality, availability and productivity of the remaining natural resource base and the ecological systems on which they depend.
The civil engineering profession recognizes the reality of limited natural resources, the desire for sustainable practices (including life-cycle analysis and sustainable design techniques), and the need for social equity in the consumption of resources. To achieve these objectives, ASCE supports the following implementation strategies:
- Promote broad understanding of economic, environmental, political, social, and technical issues and processes as related to sustainable development;
- Advance the skills, knowledge and information necessary for a sustainable future; including habitats, natural systems, system flows, and the effects of all phases of the life cycle of projects on the ecosystem;
- Advocate economic approaches that recognize natural resources and our environment as capital assets;
- Promote multidisciplinary, whole system, integrated and multi-objective goals in all phases of project planning, design, construction, operations, and decommissioning;
- Promote reduction of vulnerability to natural, accidental, and willful hazards to be part of sustainable development; and
- Promote performance based standards and guidelines as bases for voluntary actions and for regulations in sustainable development for new and existing infrastructure.
ASCE recognizes the leadership role of engineers in sustainable development, and their responsibility to provide effective and innovative solutions in addressing the challenges of sustainability. The ASCE Code of Ethics requires civil engineers to strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties. ASCE will work on a global scale to promote public recognition and understanding of the needs and opportunities for sustainable development.
Environmental, economic, social and technological development must be seen as interdependent and complementary concepts, where economic competitiveness and ecological sustainability are complementary aspects of the common goal of improving the quality of life.
Engineers have a leading role in planning, designing, building and ensuring a sustainable future. Engineers provide the bridge between science and society. In this role, engineers must actively promote and participate in multidisciplinary teams with other professionals, such as ecologists, economists, and sociologists to effectively address the issues and challenges of sustainable development.
ASCE Policy Statement 418
First Approved in 1993