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Bridge engineer James Best has worked on high profile structures in both the UK and overseas, including a 3.5km long segmental viaduct on the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link project in South Africa and the Docklands Light Railway. He thinks sustainability is something the industry has been leading up to for many years through issues like CDM and environmental assessments.
"Bridge engineers have been looking for some time at wider aspects, like the safety of bridge users over the whole life of the bridge,
the environmental impact of the products we use, and how it fits into the urban environment," he says.
"These things have all been around for a while."He adds: "We've all got a responsibility to make sure a society can grow economically, in sympathy with the environment and with the aspirations of the groups within that society."
But he is concerned that sustainability is still not a major factor for clients.
"At the moment, the key selection criteria for clients may not include sustainability issues. I suspect clients have aspirations, but it's not as high on their agenda at the moment as other issues – especially cost.
"At the moment," he continues, "knowledge of sustainability is a differentiator between the good and the best, but what we need to do as an industry is target clients and their advisors to bring sustainability to the fore. In terms of heavy civils we've got a little way to go, but the background is there, and it's not a quantum leap."