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Committee on Sustainability

Mission and Achievements 

The ASCE Task Committee on Sustainable Design (TCSD), with the guidance and support of the ASCE leadership, recognizes that any well-planned and implemented civil engineering project in the near term will most likely include planning and design considerations for project sustainability. Like value engineering in the 1970s, project planning and design for sustainability is on the brink of going mainstream for a significant portion of project work implemented by civil engineers.

As the acknowledged stewards of the built environment, it is incumbent on civil engineers to lead this next paradigm shift in sustainable infrastructure planning, design and construction. With the continual shrinking of our planet and the collision of population growth, ambitions economic development and finite natural resources (including fresh water and fertile, open land), including a sustainability component within infrastructure development plans is inevitable. Civil engineers confronting these significant issues recognize that to resolve them, civil engineers must work in close multidisciplinary collaboration with planners, lawyers and investors. The civil engineers voice and point of view is essential and vital to forming these multidisciplinary, sustainable solutions.


At the TCSD's inception in January 2009, the ASCE Board of Directors issued the following charge:

  1. Define the role of the Society and the profession in advancing sustainability in civil infrastructure.
  2. Collect and review information regarding sustainable development and related certification programs from the U.S. Green Building council (LEED), and other similar organizations.
  3. Define sustainability in terms understood and fully supported by the ASCE members as well as their clients and employers.
  4. Develop an action plan for the Society to advance the principles of sustainable development in civil infrastructure.
  5. Determine if certification of civil engineering professionals and/or projects is a viable option advancing sustainable design.

Over the last nine months of work, the TCSD has achieved the following results related to its charge:

  1. The Task Committee has identified 11 specific actions to achieve to clearly define the role of the Society and the profession in advancing sustainability in civil infrastructure. Each of these 11 actions, along with specific steps to be taken by the Society to achieve the desired result is contained in the Sustainability Action Plan.
  2. Through its research, the Task Committee has prepared a summary compellation of publications, guidance documents, and certification programs for projects and professionals for sustainable development that are available in the US and internationally. This research includes an evaluation of the certification programs from the U.S. Green Building council (LEED).
  3. The Task Committee has prepared a definition for sustainability in terms understood and fully supported by the ASCE members as well as their clients and employers.
  4. The Sustainability Action Plan for the Society to advance the principles of sustainable development in civil infrastructure has been prepared by the Task Committee.
  5. The Task Committee has determined that certification of civil engineering professionals and/or projects is a viable option for advancing sustainable design.


In addition, the Task Committee has identified immediate, mid-term and long term priorities from within the 11 key actions presented in the Sustainability Action Plan, and has created, from its existing members, working groups that are currently conducting meetings and implementing steps to achieve the immediate goals. These working groups are focusing on:

  • Sustainability certification of civil engineering projects and professionals
  • ASCE Sustainability Web site
  • Sustainability Action Plan development and implementation
  • Sustainability Certification of the ASCE Headquarters

The next step for each of these working groups is to accomplish its established goal in the near term by working with ASCE staff and institutes to successfully integrate that working group action into ASCE programs.