The Centre for Sustainable Development in the Cambridge University Engineering Department was established in 2000, following support provided by the Royal Academy of Engineering, to introduce concepts of sustainability over all its undergraduate engineering courses.
Over the years, the centre has grown and now includes the delivery of a one-year full-time MPhil in Engineering Development. It has also developed to include a research community covering sustainable development in a number of fields.
The centre covers a range of themes, including resource flows, water, development, urban environment, energy demand and assessment and decision-making. Currently the institution is involved in projects covering these themes, from the sustainability of consumer products to energy efficiency in the built environment.
The organisation states, “For engineers to address sustainable development, more options need to be considered and evaluated, and more choice criteria developed, than are often adopted using the traditional approach. Several of these criteria will not be conveniently measurable. Values, as well as mathematics, need to be applied in formulating the trade-offs and compromises involved in engineering decision-making, and these need to be transparent and accountable to a wide constituency of interested parties.
“Our work adopts a multi-disciplinary approach and focuses on the context and complexity in which engineering products and services are delivered.”
Photo: Cambridge University