March 10th, 2021 at 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

American Council of Engineering Companies Online Class

Virtual Event


Climate Change and its Implications on the Design Professions 

Presented by Gresham Smith Senior Environmental Engineer Lauren Seydewitz, LEED AP BD+C, Risk Strategies Companies’ Darren Black, Severson & Werson Partner David Erickson, and SOM Managing Partner Kenneth Lewis

Debate continues about the cause(s), but there can be little doubt that rising temperatures and an increase in the intensity of storms is a reality, and that there are very real implications for the built environment. Rising sea levels, expedited corrosion of concrete and steel structures, and acceleration of timber decay are just part of the consideration. In the U.S., buildings consume 39% of total energy used, as compared to 29% for transportation and 32% for industrial. The cement industry alone contributes 5-7% of global carbon emissions. As a result, Cambridge, Massachusetts has initiated plans for all new buildings to be “net zero” (generating as much or more energy than they use) by 2040. The Minnesota legislature is considering a bill that would require P.E.’s to earn development hours focused on the impacts of climate change on the engineering profession. Considerations given to the efficient use of construction materials based in part on their carbon footprint is a trend that is likely to continue to grow. From a mitigation, an adaptation, and a liability perspective (is designing to code sufficient if there is reason to believe that FEMA floodplain maps are out of date in a particular location?), we will attempt to address the ethical obligations and the business opportunities that exist for firms that acknowledge the implications of climate change.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increased awareness of adaptive engineering and vulnerability assessments.
  • Examples of firms having successfully leveraged “Adaptive Engineering” in their marketing efforts.
  • The importance of documentation, training and due diligence to avoid or defend allegations of having failed to adequately anticipate impacts of climate change.


More information can be accessed online here.