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Policy Statement 556 - Owners Commitment to Sustainability


Approved by the Committee for Sustainability on January 20, 2018
Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on March 15, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recommends owners, both public and private, incorporate sustainability principles and practices in the development of infrastructure projects.

ASCE supports the continued education and outreach to owners on the positive impacts and importance of sustainable infrastructure projects.


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 for future generations without degrading the quantity, quality or the availability of economic, environmental, and social resources. Sustainable development is the process of applying these resources to enhance the public health, safety, welfare, and the quality of life for all of society and future generations without degrading the quantity, quality or availability of economic, environmental, and social resources.

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. In addition, ASCE has policies that define sustainability and promote life-cycle cost analysis, and the civil engineer's role in advancing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. ASCE also recognizes the need for project owners to hold a similar standard, utilizing the engineers' expertise to provide sustainable solutions. 

While engineers have a key role in planning, designing, building, and ensuring a sustainable future, project owners must provide leadership in initiation and development of sustainable and resilient projects. This leadership begins at project conception to ensure funding options consider the life-cycle cost of the proposed project and its alternatives. 


It is incumbent on public and private owners to raise their level of awareness and implementation of sustainability practices throughout the life cycle of the infrastructure to realize the value of incorporation to themselves, the local communities, and the overall public.  

This policy has worldwide application
ASCE Policy Statement 556 
First Approved in 2018