Although most people will have a broad understanding of what sustainability means, there is no consensus on a definition. We think the clearest explanation is also one of the briefest; it’s the UN’s own definition from 1987: “…to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

As expressed, it’s a simple principle. And since our present needs are ultimately satisfied, directly or indirectly, by the natural environment, so preserving our ability to fulfil our future economic and social needs means preserving that natural environment.

Sadly, defining the simple principle is as simple as it gets. In practice it’s already hugely difficult and, as today’s global population is forecast to reach almost nine billion by 2050, it’s bound to get harder still. The population growth rate might be slowing, but there are still 45 million new mouths to feed every year.

So what can we, a UK-based niche engineering design consultancy, possibly do to help our growing, world-wide society continue to thrive within the limits of what nature can provide?

Well, quite a lot as it happens.

Domestically we already ensure our environmental management systems meet the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 for which we recived official confirmation in July 2015; that’s not just a lights off and recycle policy, but a sustainable and continually improving approach to all our consumables, our working environment and the administrative systems which manage and monitor our activities.

But it’s on the wider stage, in the delivery of our knowledge, skills and innovative expertise, that our belief in sustainability is embedded. That’s because, in the energy sector, we’re exclusively committed to renewables. Thanks to a perpetual hydrologic cycle, gravity, and the rotations of our earth and moon, there will always be renewable energy; enduring hydropower and tidal power. Our engineering design enables us to generate energy now without jeopardising resources or the potential for “future generations to meet their own needs”.    

This sustainability mantra extends to our other disciplines too. We can’t control weather but our flood defence gates and tidal surge barrier design prevents the potential environmental, economic and social damage which might otherwise occur. We help to maintain the efficacy of agricultural developments through innovative irrigation control. Our hydro designs help preserves the aquatic life cycle. And, in marine R&M (repair and maintenance), commercial logistics, tourism and leisure, our market-leading port, marina and canal lock gate designs enable operators to maintain water control (often in key heritage sites) through sensitive renewal and refurbishment.

Finally, as a former signatory to the United Nations Global Compact we are making an even more transparent commitment to sustainability by undertaking and promoting a responsible approach to the environment.