In 2006, NSPE formally recognized the importance of sustainability by adding a new professional obligation to the Society’s Code of Ethics. The new provision stated, “Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations.”
Since 1987, when the World Commission on Environment and Development used the term “sustainability” in its now familiar environmental context, professional engineers have taken the lead on developing sustainable solutions. They have contributed to the development of projects covering solar energy, wind energy, water conservation, and materials reuse, among many others.
More recently, professional engineers have been faced with the staggeringly difficult challenges brought on by climate change. As the weather becomes more severe, PEs are at the forefront of designing infrastructure that can adapt to keep the public safe and secure. Planning for the unknown is no easy assignment, but professional engineers are acting now to reduce risks and plan for quick recovery when disaster strikes.
Professional Policy 05, Environment: “preserving and improving the environment is critical to the sustainability of the planet and is an integral part of the practice of engineering….”
Unified Energy Policy NSPE Position Statement No. 04-1776: “NSPE supports a balanced approach to domestic energy development and delivery that safely, reliably, and efficiently minimizes the Nation’s reliance on foreign sources. The strategic objective of this approach is to provide reliable and cost-effective energy while protecting the public health, safety, and welfare, taking into account the full life cycle costs and environmental impacts of all energy sources….”
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Members can join the discussion about these issues in the “Engineering and Climate Change” forum in NSPE’s online Communities.