Role of consulting engineers in sustainable civil and industrial infrastructure projects

How the top firms supplying environmental consulting services address sustainability - a survey carried out for the FIDIC-EFCA Consulting Engineering Industry Survey

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No single firm or group currently dominates a significant portion of the consulting engineering sector. To understand the sector's role and how it can address sustainability it is therefore necessary to review the engineering and construction industry's firms active in the environmental consulting sector. These firms would be expected to respond vigorously to the challenges of sustainability owing to their relatively deep and long-standing involvement with environmental issues.

Part 1: Acquisition and merger activity

The top environmental consulting (EC) firms among the engineering and construction industry's top firms are growing much more aggressively, within both the engineering and construction (E&C) industry itself and the industry's environmental sector, than the E&C industry's remaining top firms. Further analysis therefore focused on these top environmental consulting firms (four from the consulting engineering sector and four from the engineering and construction sector).

In 2014, 98% of the M&A turnover in the EC sector acquired by the 22 top firms in the E&C industry was acquired by the top 9 EC firms among these 22 top firms.

Part 2: Sustainability drivers

Sustainability drivers upon which the top environmental consulting firms based their sustainability strategies and implementation plans are weighted appropriately.

The environmental dimension of sustainability remains the main driver, but is now closely followed by the social dimension.

Part 3: Implementing sustainability

Sustainability implementation for the top environmental consulting firms focussed on strategies and project-level issues, notably innovative delivery, new tools and ensuring desired outcomes are achieved. However, reference to today's targeted Millennium Development Goals and forthcoming globalSustainable Development Goals was absent.

Sustainability strategies must ensure that precautionary measures are implemented at the project level and that understanding gained from projects is shared as widely as possible.Sustainability project tools were the main focus and included project sustainability standards, sustainability impact management, value-add sustainability frameworks, certification-based life-cycle project cost benefit analysis, and sustainable target assessment rating.

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