The Importance of Sustainability in Engineering

In a climate where we are increasingly troubled by both the short and long term effects of global warming and the impact of our own personal carbon footprint, it is essential that sustainability is a core concern across all industrial sectors.

With Engineering covering such a broad range of industry, from aerospace through construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, petroleum, oil and gas to rail and transportation, the sustainability of any project has got to be a key factor right from the outset.

Sustainable Engineering

So what is sustainability in engineering terms? Well, in a nutshell, it is about protecting and not compromising our natural environment, reducing the environmental impact of industry by using renewable and recyclable resources, creating a healthy, environmentally-friendly climate and reducing energy consumption and waste in the process.

Sustainable engineering is about considering the whole system in which the engineering product or process is to be used. Whereas in the past engineering would concentrate on technical issues, sustainable engineering considers both technical and non-technical issues of the task in hand. In doing so, it aims not only to find solutions to an immediate problem within a local context but also to solve the problem globally for generations to come. Historically, political, ethical and societal issues have been side-lined by Engineering and left for others to deal with. Sustainable engineering by contrast acknowledges and embraces the need for consultation with experts in other fields before, during and after the engineering process itself. It is a holistic way of design and problem solving, it is about looking after our resources and effecting positive change in the interest of preserving the environment so that future generations are able to meet their needs.

Engineering by its very nature has been a major consumer of the world’s resources in the past. Energy use can be high with heavy machinery largely dependent on fossil fuels to power it. The manufacture and transportation of materials for any project can have a huge impact on carbon emissions. Hazardous waste as a by-product of some engineering processes throws up the issue of safe disposal not only to avoid any pollution of the environment but also to rule out health implications for those working with it.

It is against this backdrop that engineers are increasingly being called upon to solve huge global challenges such as ecosystem damage, pollution, rapid population growth and the steady depletion of the world’s resources; where engineering ever more needs to contribute to building and maintaining sustainable environments particularly when faced with the current ecological problems impacting globally.

Sustainable engineering holds the solution to so many of the world’s problems and issues by very virtue of the array of sectors it covers: housing, sanitation, water, food production, energy development, industrial processing, transportation, waste management, energy saving technology, restoration of natural environments (e.g. forests, lakes and rivers), improving processes to eliminate waste and reduce energy consumption.
It is about believing in the importance of building a sustainable society where resources are used efficiently and effectively and where adverse impact on people and the environment is minimised. Sustainable engineering is also about working collaboratively and drawing down on expert outside knowledge to solve the challenges sustainability throws at us.

Undoubtedly, sustainable engineering is key to creating a better world where both the environment and climate are central to all new designs and processes. Already so many examples of sustainable design can be seen in buildings across the globe where renewable energy sources have reduced the operational costs of a structure by harnessing power from the wind, sun or water. Wind turbines have grown exponentially in number both on land and at sea as engineers continue to come up with solutions to our depleted natural energy resources for future generations to come. Hybrid cars, electric cars, hydrogen-powered cars: developments are happening all the time as engineering explores every single avenue in the interests of a sustainable future.

Big Impacts from Small Changes

So where do Smartflow Couplings fit in with all this?

With our wealth of knowledge in process engineering, we set about designing a product which helps reduce spillage during the transfer process of liquids across all manner of industries including Oil and Gas, Food and Drink, Petrochemical, Road and Rail, Marine – in fact, any industry where fluid transfer efficiency needs to be maximised and spillages eradicated. Expensive clean-up operations are now a thing of the past, the health and safety of your employees is guaranteed and no longer does your business need to have any concern about the potentially disastrous consequences of spillage, toxic or not, on the local environment.

In creating more efficient fluid transfer and removing unnecessary spillage, we hope to play a part in helping support a sustainable engineering approach.

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