What is environmental engineering?
Environmental engineering is a branch of engineering that seeks to reduce waste and pollution, thereby protecting the environment. It deals with the design of technologies and processes that control pollution release and help clear up any contamination that’s already occurred.
The basic concept has been around for over 5,000 years, since the first rudimentary sewers were developed to move waste water away from settlements. As a recognised discipline, it’s become increasingly significant in recent decades as governments, and individuals, seek to limit environmental damage, and companies have seen the benefits of saving energy and avoiding legal non-compliances.
Some environmental engineers work on public projects, finding ways to manage waste is increasingly overcrowded environments. But environmental engineers also often work with individual businesses to determine ways to avoid or reduce the production of pollutants and save costs by reducing energy usage or using renewable sources.
How to apply environmental engineering principles to your manufacturing business
Whilst environmental engineering is a very developed discipline in its own right, the principles can be applied to almost every industrial and manufacturing business.
Manufacturing businesses can create a lot of waste products and can use a lot of energy. Environmental engineering seeks to minimise and manage waste and pollution, protecting the air, water, soil and ourselves from the harmful chemicals and reduce energy usage or use renewable sources.
The sorts of problems an environmental engineer might seek to solve within a manufacturing setting include:
- How to reduce the creation of waste materials
- How to recycle or dispose of waste materials
- How to best manage and treat waste water
- How to control air pollution
- How to harness more renewable energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and reduce costs
- How to reduce noise pollution
- How to clean up any contaminants
- How to keep employees protected from harmful toxins
- How to ensure compliance with necessary environmental legislation
- How to improve overall environmental sustainability.
Environmental engineering should be finding plausible, environmentally sound and economically sustainable solutions to these and other related issues.
So, what might those solutions look like?
- Installing more energy efficient motors
- Introducing renewable energy sources and the associated machine conversions
- Implementing value engineering processes to reduce the amount of raw materials needed and reducing waste in the production of goods
- Replacing traditional lighting with LED lights for greater efficiency
- Improving insulation of appropriate machinery and site buildings
- Installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems
- Installation of stack scrubbers
- Coordination of waste management and recycling activities
- Design and implementation of a plan to prevent, control or remediate environmental hazards.
What are the benefits of adopting an environmental engineering approach?
Compliance with environmental legislation is one thing. And a very important thing it is too. But the development of sustainable practices lends itself to efficient operations that streamline effort and conserve resources, enhancing productivity and reducing costs. Some of the more involved efforts may be more expensive to implement, but the long-term results can justify the investment.
Taking a proactive approach to making further environmental improvements has any number of added benefits:
- Reduction in energy consumption saves money
- Reduction in raw materials cuts costs and minimises waste
- Reduced water use cuts bills and minimises water disposal
- Improved efficiencies and reduction in waste disposal costs through recycling initiatives
- Steps to prevent environmental damage reduces the risk of costly remedial works in the event of an environmental incident
- Opportunity for innovation – and a potential way into new markets
- Improved company reputation and competitive advantage – taking the environment seriously can attract new investors, foster customer loyalty and motivate staff
- Increased profit and happy shareholders!
What can we do?
As an engineering firm, we have a strong interest in environmental engineering and plenty of experience in implementing changes within manufacturing businesses to help them reap some of the benefits outlined above. We can:
- Assess your site for environmental impact
- Design systems for waste management
- Implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects
- Design and manage projects that lead to environmental protection, such as water reclamation facilities or air pollution control systems
- Help your business incorporate the latest innovations or develop new solutions to enhance environmental protection
- Help with environmental compliance, including audits
- Ensure a safe work environment for your employees.
If you want to know more about how our environmental engineering approaches could help your business, please get in touch.