How we can develop the future of sustainable construction through university education


Chris Wise vents his frustration at the lack of imagination and industry involvement in built environment education (Sustainability is for Sharing, 20 February 2013, page 26). He is not alone. For those of us at the cutting edge of holistic building design, the problem is obvious: traditional construction disciplines need to integrate skills and knowledge, not argue over who should lead on sustainability.

Chris mentions my ongoing work with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), which made a compelling intellectual and financial case for “centres of excellence in sustainable building design”. Bids have now been received to actually make them happen. His article is to be applauded for highlighting what has to be one of the key issues of our generation. Unfortunately, it also promulgates a number of misconceptions about the centres of excellence.

First, the centres are not conceived on the “narrow viewpoint of building services engineering”. Quite the contrary: they are aimed at engaging engineers who do not normally encounter building services. Second, he is wrong to suggest that the RAEng has consigned the construction industry to a third rank in considering the establishment of such centres. The entire initiative has been driven by prominent figures from industry.

I choose to imagine a revolutionary future for construction. We can only achieve this by overcoming the siloed mentalities that divide us. If anyone shares my vision, as I believe Chris Wise does, please get in touch so that we can work together on it.

Doug King, consulting engineer, RAEng visiting professor of Building Engineering Physics