Thanks to Barbara Lemon for this guest blog.
Engineers and architects have a special responsibility to build sustainability into their projects. So say three graduates with the Beca Group in Wellington, who gave a special presentation for students at Victoria.
Nina Ives, Ellie Craft and Michael Green gave us some great examples of sustainable building projects including Wellington’s Smart Motorway as well as our own Alan MacDiarmid, Hub and Rankine Brown buildings. Design of the Rankine Brown, Nina said, resulted in a reduction of a whopping 697,700kWh in energy, 153 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions, and $38,000 in savings per year.
Michael spoke about the importance of good data in sustainable projects. We can build in tiny data collection points to monitor temperature and light in our buildings, helping us to save energy by adjusting our systems according to usage levels. Data can even prevent us from tackling a problem with the wrong solution. An example was pollution of Tasmania’s Tamar River by sewage overflow during heavy rain. The obvious culprit was an ageing sewage system but Beca’s data put that theory to the test and showed the problem was elsewhere.
Michael reminded us that data can be made much more compelling and attractive using programs like PowerBI (interactive data) or ArcGIS (cloud-based mapping). Remember that for your next class presentation!
It’s important for organisations to walk the talk with sustainability. Ellie talked about Beca’s annual sustainability report and introduction of other green measures such as reducing air travel; using public transport, taxi-sharing and electric cars; and maintaining a five star green rating on office buildings. Students were put to the task of coming up with potential projects promoting sustainability. We heard some great ideas including providing incentives for employees to cycle or walk to work; promoting certifications like Carbon Zero for companies; creating an app that allows consumers to see and compare green ratings for the cafés and businesses that they use; and harnessing Wellington’s wind power – anyone for a turbine on Mt Victoria?
Thanks to our three speakers for taking time out two years in a row to talk about sustainability and the responsibility of engineers, and encouraging us to think about sustainability at Victoria.