The Biden-Harris administration has made significant changes that relate to climate in their first 100 days. President Biden signed Executive Orders (EOs) 13690, 13985, 13990, 14008, and 14010 that designate climate change as a national security priority and strengthen US environmental regulations. These EOs direct the Executive branch to mobilize in a coordinated approach to address the climate crisis, while simultaneously acknowledging the impact a changing climate has on vulnerable populations. Biden also set a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 50-52 percent by 2030.
How the A&E industry can help
To achieve these goals, the administration has called on the private sector for support and investment, and to challenge each other to instigate change. This brings far-reaching opportunities for the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry.
Worldwide, the A&E industry has the power to drive innovation, facilitate communication, and foster collaboration, as well as to mitigate the impacts of and adapt to climate change. In Australia, engineers signed a climate declaration to commit to strengthening work practices “to create systems, infrastructure, technology and products that have a positive impact on the world.” In the US, our industry is shaping climate public policy by bringing climate science to the forefront of services offered. This should not be a partisan issue; climate change will adversely affect us all if we do not take decisive, swift action.
Sustainability and resilience are key
Mead & Hunt recently launched a multi-discipline Core Sustainability and Resilience Team (CSRT) to collectively lead the companywide vision to support our clients’ future needs with solutions that address climate change impacts. CSRT uses consensus-building to integrate sustainability, resilience, and climate change adaptation services across all markets. This allows us to address climate impacts on the environment, underserved communities, and our clients. CSRT’s coordinated-services approach serves as a best practice for the A&E industry to deliver sustainability, resilience, and climate-focused services that answer the administration’s call to the private sector.
What is Mead & Hunt doing?
The following are some examples of climate change services from across our company, demonstrating how we can drive systemic change within the A&E industry to support climate change priorities:
- Mead & Hunt’s legacy is dam and hydroelectric engineering. We build on more than a century of experience providing continuous innovation and environmental mitigation of the impact of dams and hydropower to deliver climate benefits that strengthen the industry’s contribution to renewable energy. Hydropower remains a key element to a diverse energy generation portfolio.
- Traffic and transit engineers are innovating our transportation network using signal optimization, adaptive signals, and Transit Signal Priority to reduce idle and travel time. Meanwhile, our bicycle facility designs offer a zero-emission alternative mode of transportation.
- Architecture & Building Engineering (ABE) works with clients to set goals to implement Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon planning and practices. ABE promotes the benefits of integrative, sustainable design to achieve reductions in energy use, potable water use, carbon emissions, and construction waste while improving thermal comfort and human health on all projects.
- The Water/Wastewater group is helping clients look ahead and evaluate how climate change affects their drinking water supplies, whether via drought, saltwater intrusion, or changing water quality characteristics.
- The Aviation group supports our nation’s airports with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories, comprehensive airport sustainability programs, standalone climate initiatives, and climate adaptation projects. From Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) support to rigorous design that incorporates climate projections, our goal is to provide long-term solutions.
- Waste planning services include using the Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to estimate GHG impacts of a facility’s existing practices and the resulting reductions from proposed improvements.
- Communities should prepare for upcoming infrastructure funding opportunities. Our team can help leverage funding sources for infrastructure projects with the potential to provide enormous environmental benefits to our communities.
Preparing for the future
President Biden’s roughly $2 trillion jobs proposal focused on infrastructure and the climate crisis provides many opportunities for our industry to make a positive impact on the future of the U.S. The A&E industry is a key player in the strategy to slow climate change by 2030 and reach a net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. Supported by CSRT along with our ongoing Foresight + Innovation + Technology program encouraging exploration of new ideas and innovative strategies, we are up to the challenge. As engineers, planners, and professionals experienced in science, technology, and innovation, we are ready to make a positive impact in the fight against global climate change.