Climate change was once considered a problem that would need to be dealt with in the distant future, but the problems caused by rising sea levels, rising temperatures and intense weather, and the reasons behind them, feature very much in the present of the lives of civil engineers.
At Kaymac Marine, we’re continuously aware of the challenges that climate change poses on a daily basis and in every aspect of our work. It’s indisputable that the global climate is changing and how we design, plan and orchestrate water-based systems is perpetually affected by this ever-increasing issue.
As marine engineers, we’ve got first-hand experience of the powerful effects that water has on our world. Water is both highly sensitive to climate changes, and it’s the medium through which many of these changes will impact on us as a global society, as well as on us as an island nation. Rising temperatures teamed with an increase in storms and more intense rainfall means an inevitable increase in flooding, be that inland or coastal.
So how can civil engineering companies help to do their bit to lessen the effects of climate change?
Both the increase in water flow due to changes in weather, the impact on infrastructure that sea-level rise is having, and the effect of CO2 on the durability of concrete, steel and timber structures mean that it’s our responsibility as engineers to repair and maintain existing assets to minimise evolving risks. We and many of our counterparts across the globe aim to reduce the vulnerability of built infrastructure to adapt and increase resilience and sustainability. During all reactive repair work we complete for our clients, our focus is forward-thinking for changing shorelines, with adaptation to climate change at the forefront; our coastal protection and flood risk expertise helps protect coastal and estuarine environments and communities.
We know that planned asset maintenance will help; clearing debris around structures and unblocking and desilting culverts to ensure clear passageways for the influx of water. But there is so much more that we can be doing…
For example, we often work on strengthening existing structures by using more durable materials than previously used on the initial installation, as per our work using the DENSO Seashield system. This innovative sealant technology is used for pile wrapping to prevent long-term corrosion of marine structures. This cost-effective product allows exposed pipes, valves, fittings, steelwork and concrete bunded areas around the waterline to withstand tough environmental conditions and remain maintenance free for many more years than traditional materials. We’re also advocates of using Rock armour to protect structures from fluvial erosion. These are just some examples of Kaymac Marine’s climate change material adaptation to help provide sustainable solutions to our clients.
Supporting all sectors
Climate change doesn’t just affect marine engineering. As a company, Kaymac Marine have a long-standing relationship with Network Rail and have become their trusted service provider when it comes to railway engineering marine environments. It’s not just trees on the line that causes havoc for the rail industry when the weather becomes unsettled – repair and protection of railway structures in a watercourse, such as tracks running over a culvert, ensures a more resilient transport system for sustainable and long-term functioning of the services and the environmental protection of the diverse British landscapes through which our rail systems weave.
Collaboration to support the environment
Our dedication to protecting the natural environment has seen us working closely with Natural Resource Wales and The Environment Agency during the planning stage of our projects in order to minimise the disruption to wildlife, protected species and the natural environment. Every structure we deal with sits within a natural environment, therefore, as engineers, everything we do must take into consideration the site’s unique ecosystem – this makes climate change an important factor in our water resource planning considerations on every project we undertake.
We’re sure we’re not alone in stating that our clients appreciate and are more aware that we all, collectively, need to pay attention to climate change issues as we progress with civil and marine engineering. Human-induced climate change is projected to continue, and we are aware that as engineers, we are a crucial cog in the wheel of change that can help to reduce the effects our species has on our planet. Climate adaptation will need to include mitigation efforts as well as continually working to lower the carbon footprint of our industry – zero emissions is what we all strive for, but as we’re not always building structures from scratch, we’re reacting and responding to repairs for future protection. Our policies are aligned with our ethos: to strive to work to help combat climate change in every area of our industry for our surrounding communities.