Trying harder is not enough, says the head of engineers Atkins, Keith Clarke - we have to change.
Atkins defines its approach to climate change as "carbon-critical design". In the company magazine, Clarke said:
"We cannot simply design a road, a building or a town then ask key questions about energy use or environmental impact afterwards. Carbon-critical design is about asking the right questions right from the start."
The battle against climate change and Atkins' role within it is an issue Clarke is only too willing to expand on.
"The only argument is how long we have got, not if or even how much. Let's not waste time here ... this is not just a corporate social responsibility exercise ... You can argue it's a moral issue; you can argue it's a business issue. You can also argue it's a fundamental change to the way we design the built environment.
"The real issue is when do we seriously start to deal with mitigation, which is about making sure we avoid any tipping point. If you assume we are going to get adaptation, because that was what the client is asking for, the real challenge coming up over the next four to five years is mitigation."
One tool for Clarke is the use of carbon - embedded carbon, the amount emitted in making the materials and constructing the building, plus the amount produced during the life of the building - as proxy for climate change.
Recently, Atkins has begun work on projects where the clients are looking for "carbon neutral, or close to it". In effect, Clarke says, Atkins has come up with a model, admittedly an embryonic one, spanning both embedded carbon and the carbon over the building's life.
27th June 2008