Sustainable Engineering

Sustainable Design

Structural engineers play a vital role in the sustainable development of our built environment. GCA have signed up to the Structural Engineers Declare, a commitment to strengthen our working practices to create structural engineering outcomes that have a more positive impact on the world around us.

Structural Engineers Declare:

Through the design, construction and management of buildings and infrastructure we are committed to sustainable engineering in all aspects of our design work.

We can provide engineering support to low carbon installations, such as photovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines.


solar panels and electricity pylons
wind turbines farm

Why is sustainable design important?

The manufacture and disposal of the materials used in the construction industry account for 11% of global greenhouse gases (IStructE how to calculate embodied carbon).  Consequently, the construction industry has a big role to play in decarbonising our environment.

To try and combat the current environmental crisis, the government has passed a law requiring the UK to be net zero by 2050.  This is a big challenge and we need to act now if we are going to achieve this target.

Re-use  - Recycle

Consider Carbon: Embodied and Operational


How to make your project more sustainable


Can you remodel existing structure?  With innovative design engineering even awkward structures can be converted for a complete change of use.  Using existing structures must be considered to save existing embodied carbon and significantly reduce material usage.

Get all the design team onboard early in the project and make sustainability a core project design criterion.

What are the realistic variable loads on the building?

Avoid building below ground, basements require a lot of concrete and steel.

Use high strength or lightweight materials, e.g. steel or timber frame, which will help to reduce the load on the foundations.

Use sustainable timber which has a much lower level of embodied carbon than concrete or steel.  Consider a more sustainable concrete specification.

Allow the designer time to aid you to maximise your projects potential, whilst reducing the environmental impact.


Embodied Carbon Calculator


The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) have recognised the Climate Emergency, of which our Engineers are members, and using our 3D analysis tools we are able to calculate embodied carbon throughout the design process.

As we continue to scrutinise our designs, past and present we are developing a better understanding of how cutting edge software and technologies can enable us to improve our designs to help our clients, our professional partners and ultimately slow down climate change and look after our planet.