By MJ O’Shaughnessy

ENGINEERING probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when considering how we tackle climate change. Yet the built environment where we all live, learn, work and play has been engineered. The question now, as we work towards meeting ambitious net-zero carbon targets, is how do we build, protect, preserve and enhance our landscapes in a sustainable way.

We have been considering this challenge for some time now, and in fact we made blue-green engineering a core principle of the Will Rudd approach to design five years ago.

We have completely diversified our portfolio of services and the design and engineering solutions have continued to evolve to support the delivery of responsible environmental solutions. The energy market is a very strong sector for us, whether that’s the £500 million energy from waste facilities we are working on or the numerous wind farm projects we are currently delivering.

We have pushed the boundaries and throw away the traditional rulebooks. Like moving away from the assumption that drainage must be hidden and underground.

Instead we are working with the landscape to determine how we can develop above-ground solutions that naturally interact with it to take care of the drainage and flood risk, assessing the geology, energy and hydrology of the area and create a living habitat for us and wildlife alike. Like a recent project we worked on where the drainage solution works with the woodland around it, or in planted swales and communal ponds. Delivering sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) serve to capture carbon as well as reduce flood risk.

How we improve urban areas too can hugely benefit society and this is a key focus for cities across the UK and Ireland. With demand for housing increasing and a shortage of suitable land, developers are increasingly looking to mixed-use developments where residents can enjoy high-quality living spaces. This is particularly prominent in London where we have worked on tall buildings, up to 36 storeys. Instead of exploiting every square metre of space for building, we are working collaboratively with architects, landscape architects, planners, developers and contractors to create environments that maximise opportunities for green spaces, both through the preservation of the surrounding areas, and in the creation of new spaces integrated in the fabric of the building, like community roof gardens. These enhanced spaces for social and recreation activities have been proven to deliver health benefits as well as reducing the impact on the environment and are engineered to be resilient to changing climates.

The 80-strong team of experts working across our Glasgow and Edinburgh offices support the creation of positive sustainable environments that we and future generations can benefit from. It is important to us that we play our part in delivering a built environment where people can thrive, and knowing we make a positive contribution to protecting our planet.

MJ O’Shaughnessy is Managing Director, Will Rudd (Glasgow)