Climate action: Engineering change

Engineering New Zealand says it is time for industry to accelerate climate action. And the good news is that many companies are already stepping up to the challenge – WSP being one.

“We must prioritise addressing climate risks within our roles, seizing every opportunity to mitigate, transition and/or adapt to climate change. What this looks like will differ depending on the discipline, projects, clients and local context,” says Engineering New Zealand.

To help, the organisation is developing case studies, a new practice note, client facing resources, and collective position statements for advocacy.

“Watch this space. This year we are also planning to introduce drop-in pan-engineering ‘climate conversations’.”

WSP making moves

In late last year, WSP announced its commitment to half the carbon footprint of infrastructure designs and advice provided to clients by 2030.

“With estimates suggesting that 20% of global carbon emissions relate to the construction of the built environment, and a further 30% relating to the operation of buildings and infrastructure, our commitment underscores the essential role that organisations in the sector have in helping to address climate change and contributing to the transition to a low-carbon economy,” says WSP.

The company hopes that this commitment will make a significant impact on carbon emissions working with public and private sector clients on building, transport, water and power projects.

“We are committed to acting with urgency and providing leadership to help achieve the country’s emissions reduction targets by promoting world-class low carbon solutions for New Zealand infrastructure,” says WSP’s New Zealand managing director Ian Blair.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has now also awarded WSP a contract to investigate the feasibility of non-hydroelectric energy storage options as part of the Government’s NZ Battery Project.

This project focussed on how to best address the country’s ‘dry year problem’ where the existing hydroelectric power catchments sometimes don’t receive enough rainfall or snowmelt.

WSP’s role will be to investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of these alternative technologies and how viable it may be to integrate them into New Zealand’s electricity market. The project team will also look at the social, cultural and environmental feasibility of each option.

“Renewable technologies represent an important low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels in all applications, including for electricity shortage,” says Rebecca Tjaberings, WSP’s director of power.

“The study is firmly aligned with Aotearoa’s goal of achieving long-term energy security in a renewable future, as well as WSP’s own commitment to supporting technological and policy solutions that will help with that transition.”