What is Sustainable Engineering? Why Is It Important? (2023)

November 22, 2023

Sustainable engineering plays a pivotal role in creating a healthier environment

Sustainable engineering plays a critical role in modern engineering and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It encompasses the process of designing systems in a manner that utilises energy and resources wisely. At its core, sustainable engineering prioritises the integration of social, environmental, and economic considerations in product design, process creation, and engineered systems.

As demands on resources and energy increase across the globe, the significance of sustainable engineering principles becomes more apparent, with civil engineers aiming to address growing environmental and societal concerns.

The Concept of Sustainable Engineering

Civil engineers contribute to sustainable engineering

Sustainable engineering is recognised by UNESCO as a system that doesn’t use up more resources than the environment can support. This can be achieved by designing products, processes, and systems in a way that takes into account social, environmental, and economic considerations. These three aspects are critical to ensure that we preserve our planet for future generations while also providing for the needs of today’s population.

Another key aspect of sustainable engineering is adopting a holistic approach, while using systems analysis to integrate environmental impact assessment tools. This involves considering the entire lifecycle of a product or process, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, usage, and disposal.

In recent years, the role of technology in driving a sustainable future has become increasingly important. For instance, the adoption of automated data workflows and actionable risk insights can help businesses adapt to sustainability practices more seamlessly. Additionally, green engineering practices, such as full system analysis of production facilities, machinery, and processes, are playing a critical role in the commercial and industrial recovery.

Key Points of Sustainable Engineering

There are several key aspects of Sustainable Engineering, that all need to be addressed in order to form a sustainable end-product. Cost savings, renewable energy sources, and waste minimising are all integral parts of the process, and it’s important to take note of them:

Assessing and Measuring Metrics

Project management with SOLIDWORKS

One of the primary challenges in sustainable engineering is the ability to assess and measure various metrics to determine the effectiveness of sustainable designs. This includes aspects such as material usage, energy consumption, and waste generation. By utilising tools such as SOLIDWORKS Sustainability, engineers can make informed decisions throughout the design process and quantify the environmental pollution that their products may output.

Resource Conservation and Carbon Footprint

SOLIDWORKS resource conservation

Another key aspect of sustainable engineering is the conservation of natural resources and the reduction of a product’s carbon footprint. To take control of this in civil engineering, material selection, manufacturing processes, and end-of-life disposal must all be considered. By reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources and minimising greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable engineering provides environmentally friendly solutions. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability can help engineers analyse and improve a sustainable design in terms of resource conservation and carbon footprints.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency with SOLIDWORKS tools

Energy efficiency is another essential factor in an engineering project, as it directly impacts the overall sustainability of a product or system. Designing energy-efficient products not only contributes to environmental sustainability but also often provides economic benefits by reducing energy consumption and associated costs. SOLIDWORKS Sustainability enables engineers to evaluate and optimise energy efficiency in their designs, leading to more responsible and innovative solutions.

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability

SOLIDWORKS Sustainability is a digital solution that enables engineers and designers to quickly and easily assess analyse the sustainability of their designs. This powerful toolset can be seamlessly integrated within the SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software, allowing users to monitor the environmental impacts of carbon, energy, air, and water throughout the design process. With its range of features, it serves as an excellent tool to supplement engineers in their work, and create sustainable end products.

Life-Cycle Analysis: SOLIDWORKS Sustainability can carry out screening-level life cycle assessments that streamline the design process. These are far faster and cheaper than a full IOS 14040-certified LCA, and is an excellent way to properly access the feasibility of a design in sustainable engineering.

Database Access: Another advantage of SOLIDWORKS Sustainability is its access to the GaBi LCA Database. This valuable resource provides comprehensive environmental data, making it easy for engineers and designers to make well-informed decisions about materials and processes, all from within SOLIDWORKS itself.

Convenient Collaboration: Collaboration is also made easier thanks to SOLIDWORKS Sustainability. By offering a shared platform and centralised database, teams can work together, discuss environmental considerations, and exchange ideas to improve the sustainability of their designs collectively.

Instant Feedback: Finally, the software includes a material selection tool that provides instant feedback on the most environmentally-friendly material options for a particular design. This feature helps users make more informed choices when selecting materials, leading to reduced environmental harm from emissions.

With its wide range of functions, and integration into the wider SOLIDWORKS framework, SOLIDWORKS Sustainability is a highly useful tool for those seeking to create more sustainable, environmentally-friendly designs and pursue sustainable practices.

SOLIDWORKS Sustainable Engineering for a Better Future

SOLIDWORKS on various operating systems

As global environmental issues continue to emerge, structural design professionals have a crucial role in working towards a sustainable built environment. It’s now crucial to address the need to conserve resources, reduce environmental impact during industrial processes, and consider the long-term implications of engineering decision.

By learning more about sustainable engineering practices, individuals and businesses can contribute to a cleaner, more responsible approach to engineering and design. Tools such as SOLIDWORKS Sustainability help engineers to design greener products, taking into consideration factors like energy, emissions, and waste. If you’re interested to find out more about the range of engineering solutions we offer at SEACAD, contact us here to receive a quote or make an enquiry.