Pro Consult is a boutique Auckland-based structural engineering consultancy, mainly providing for residential housing needs with our structural and civil engineering skills.
The ProConsult engineers provided structural calculations for the key elements of Unified Peaks such as; pole-spans and screen perforations.
How well do you think the current Structural Engineering industries are implementing sustainable practice, and do you think we are doing enough?
Structural engineers have a pivotal role to play in terms of sustainability. This is reflected through their design of green buildings using sustainable materials, consideration of material source and reuse, and the impact these materials and designs have on the environment. Further, sustainability is embodied in the design to preserve the nature of the building by minimisation of energy costs and maintenance costs, and have regard for the use of carbon materials in construction.
Engineering New Zealand and the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand are proactive in terms of promoting sustainable structural design and there is considerable awareness amongst responsible designers regarding sustainable practice. The are many larger organisations and smaller practices who are aware of these sustainable practices and who have largely embraced the concept of sustainable design. Much of structural design is also undertaken in partnership with leading architects.
Whilst many responsible structural engineering designers have now embraced sustainable design practice it would be fair to say that some smaller practices may as yet not have become fully cognisant of the advantages of such practice, both for clients and on the environment.
Do you think the industry's current path will be able to reduce its impact enough to meet the Paris Agreement?
Yes. New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Proconsult is of the opinion that structural engineering designers can have a significant contribution to the reduction of carbon. And the awareness of designers is growing in this area.
How do think it can be improved?
New Zealand is a small country and we (as a people) are quite isolated in terms of material production. However, our main advantage is that we are innovative. In order to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement we need to reduce carbon and import fewer materials. Structural engineers have made considerable progress in this regard through (more latterly) the low damage design of buildings (which will make these buildings reusable after significant earthquakes), the design of multi-storey buildings with timber frames and the recycling of materials.
What is your view on the importance of sustainable practice over the past few years?
Irrespective of the presence or otherwise of the Paris Agreement sustainable practice by structural engineers should be embodied in every day design. Such practice is responsible in terms of protecting the environment, promoting our culture, and attaining best practice.
Utopian ideas: In an ideal world what would your industry look like to you ?
I’d like to see our industry concentrating on improving materials, their manufacture and their treatments to reduce harmful elements for those living and working in buildings made from them. There's also much room for improvement with waste. However, we need to be focused on not ending up with cookie cutter solutions: people still need innovation and individuality.
I’m sure that, despite the current lack of availability of housing, there are great engineering offerings that could solve some of these issues. The industry is under very heavy pressure at present, but despite that I’m sure we have much to offer for future housing. Government regulation is a major influence on the engineering industry and if we could rationalise legislation like the Building Code and Resource Management Act it would help us immensely with lead times and costs.