• Question: Do you evaluate the negative externalities of your buildings?

    Asked by Nolte to Fe, Joe, Olivia, Pete on 17 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Olivia Stodieck

      Olivia Stodieck answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      Hi Nolte, I’m not sure if you are talking about the buildings we work in or the things we design/analyse/make as engineers?
      If it’s the first question, then I would say the building I work in is great. The University is right in the city center and I can walk to work. 🙂
      If it’s the second question, then I guess what would be the “negative externalities”? If I think about aircraft for example, then we certainly worry about the impact aircraft have on the environment. In fact, a lot of the work I do is about finding out how we can make aircraft greener, by reducing the amount of fuel burnt (reducing the amount of pollution) and reducing the noise too.

    • Photo: Felicity Harer

      Felicity Harer answered on 18 Mar 2015:

      Hi Nolte, going to have to follow Olivia on this and ask for a bit of clarification! In the meantime though, Google is telling me that a negative externality is a cost suffered by a third party as a result of an economic transaction so I’ll run with that!
      The answer to this is fairly complex. We do have to evaluate our impact to a certain extent because of legislation. For example, in most countries we can’t sell cars that have emissions above a certain point so we have to keep an eye on that. We also have a department who look at the impact of our work on things other than the environment. It’s an entire field called Sustainability and looks at the impact on people, planet and product of what we do. That impact goes in to considering every single project we do. I have no doubt there’s more evaluation going on somewhere in the company but that’s all I’m involved with 🙂

    • Photo: Peter Roskilly

      Peter Roskilly answered on 18 Mar 2015:

      If you mean do we consider the impact of the things we do, then yes, it is one of the primary considerations.
      Unfortunately the population is growing and will continue to grow. This growth requires expansion – more homes, road, trains, food, luxuries. As an engineer we have a professional responsibility to balance our needs against the negative impact of what we make. Our aim will always be to eliminate or reduce as much as possible.
      If you mean why are buildings so ugly, thats all Architects fault.
      (seriously though typically an architect will take a clients brief and draw up something they think will look good/striking/unique. If the client likes it, it’ll get built)