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Event Organiser: ICE

Defence Lecture - Sustainable Engineering: Carbon Neutral by 2050, online

  • Lecture
  • London
  • 22 June 2020
  • 18:30 - 20:15
Defence Lecture - Sustainable Engineering: Carbon Neutral by 2050, online

About this event


This year the annual Defence Lecture is being sponsored by the Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE) on behalf of the Defence Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs). The Carbon Neutral agenda by 2050 will compel Defence to take a good long look at its footprint; the Lecture therefore provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the topic of Sustainable Engineering.

Presentations will examine the challenges faced by Defence both by the Built Estate and on Deployed Operations, with other contributions encompassing both the Industry and Academic perspectives.

Col Peter Cartmill, Defence Build Estate

Defence, with specific reference to the Army for the purposes of this presentation, has a leading role to play in ensuring that the UK’s Greenhouse Gas emissions are at net zero by 2050. The presentation will draw out the challenges to be faced: a large, aged, inefficient Army estate; the scale of the net zero carbon task and; the ability of current technology to offer viable solutions at scale for storage and de-carbonising heat. Against this backdrop I will then explore the opportunities that a net zero carbon goal offers and that the Army seeks to embrace, using examples of sustainable infrastructure pilot initiatives currently being pursued by the Army on its Built and Training Estates across the spectrum of reducing demand, finding alternative supply and developing offsetting.

Maj Gary Jackson, Military Deployed Operation

Compared to other areas of society, the Military faces unique challenges in achieving carbon neutral energy production on operations by 2050. Sustainable sources of energy offer significant benefits to the military with a reduced dependency on challenging and potentially contested logistic chains but can present additional risk due to increased camp footprints and greater vulnerability to combat operations. This presents military engineers and commanders with a challenge. I will first frame this challenge by considering the unique factors affecting energy production on deployed operations. Then potential sustainable technologies compatible with military operations will be explored. Finally, a trial of deployed renewable systems conducted by the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps during Exercise ARCADE FUSION will be used to provide quantitative analysis of the potential gains and risks.

Davide Stronati, Mott MacDonald – Industry Perspective

The United Kingdom declared in June 2019 it will be a net zero carbon economy by 2050, following the Commission on Climate Change report in May 2019 that this is “necessary, feasible and cost-effective”. The current Covid-19 event is a social and economic tragedy – but also an opportunity to embrace net-zero and accelerate its achievement by building-back-better the United Kingdom. The infrastructure industry has a fundamental role to play in achieving such ambitious targets, in reducing the amount of carbon emissions from the current and future asset delivery and management as well as providing opportunities to offset them by adequate land management. A pragmatic framework and roadmap will be discussed, presenting the UK water sector as an example with their experience on low carbon infrastructure and aspiration on net zero.

Dr Kristen MacAskill, Cambridge University – Academic Perspective

There is often a perceived divide between the worlds of academia and industry but there are many opportunities to align on a sustainable development agenda; academic inquiry can help industry resolve "how to" questions, and to make meaningful sense of complex problems. I will focus on bringing theory into practice, where we apply an academic research process to investigate problems facing engineering and asset-owning organizations. I will provide examples of research projects oriented on practical challenges such as understanding what constitutes sustainable solutions and how governance structures facilitate/limit what solutions are possible. I will also reference findings from research into disaster recovery to reflect on the opportunities for change presented by the Covid-19 crisis.

mott macdonald

This event is sponsored by Mott MacDonald.


Major General Nick Cavanagh CB,

President, Institution of Royal Engineers

Major General Nick Cavanagh was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1988 after reading engineering at Cambridge University. Over a full military career, he has commanded engineers on operations and exercises at home and overseas including operational tours of Northern Ireland, the First Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also completed a range of non-operational roles including as the Assistant Head of Army Infrastructure Plans, the Assistance Chief of Staff for the deployable Field Army and as the Director of Manning for the Army.

Since April 2016, he has been the Director of Strategy and Planning in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Defence’s infrastructure advisory and delivery agent delivering c£3.5Bn of infrastructure spend annually. He was elected as the President of the Institution of Royal Engineers in October 2018 and was made a Companion of the Bath (CB) on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2019.

Col Peter Cartmill

Assistant Head Sustainability Exploitation & Efficiency, Basing & Infrastructure

Colonel Pete Cartmill is currently the Assistant Head leading the Sustainability, Efficiency and Exploitation Team in the Basing and Infrastructure Directorate within Army Headquarters. Before taking post in December 2018 he worked as the Requirements Desk Officer in Joint Force Command, coordinating the delivery of the Major Projects programme in the UK and overseas.

Prior to this he spent two years at the Permanent Joint Headquarters as the lead Infrastructure Staff Officer, responsible for technical engineering support to UK operations worldwide. He has also spent a year with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, project managing the airfield improvements for the F-35B aircraft at RAF Marham and has been the Team Leader for the MOD’s Fuel and Gas Safety Regulator in Defence Equipment and Support, responsible for licensing and safety enforcement of all Defence bulk fuel and gas storage facilities worldwide.

Commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1994, his early experiences were as an Airmobile Troop Commander, the Officer Commanding the South Georgia Logistic Support Detachment, as a Squadron Operations Officer in Northern Ireland and as Adjutant of a Close Support Engineer Regiment. He has commanded two Specialist Teams Royal Engineers and was the Commanding Officer of 63 Works Group Royal Engineers, undertaking infrastructure and air support tasks around the world including deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Completing Professional Engineer (MSc) Training, with an 18-month attachment to the civilian construction industry, he qualified as a Chartered Engineer (Civil) in 2003.

Maj Gary Jackson

OC 528 STRE (Power), 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group

Gary Jackson

Major Gary Jackson commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers in December 2007. He has served in a number of roles including Troop Commander, Battle Group Engineer to both the Queens Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment and 1st Battalion, the Royal Gurkha Rifles and second in command of an explosive ordnance disposal and search squadron. Over this period, he deployed to Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 11 as a troop commander and battle group engineer and on Operation HERRICK 17 as the Task Force Helmand Battle Captain.

In 2015, Major Jackson attended Professional Engineer Training (PET) at Chatham, Kent. During this challenging course, he completed a civilian attachment to Skanska as a project manager on a major construction project and then worked as a building services design engineer with Ingleton Wood Ltd in Cambridge. Building on these experiences, he achieved chartered engineer status as a mechanical and electrical engineer with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2017. Following this, he served in a specialist engineering team providing infrastructure support to the RAF on operations and in 2018, was promoted to Major.

Following the Intermediate Staff and Command Course (Land) at the Defence Academy Shrivenham, Major Jackson was appointed as the Officer Commanding of 528 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (Power), a team focused on providing specialist advice and engineering support to Defence on deployable and fixed power infrastructure up to and including 11kV. Since assuming command in March 2019, he has deployed on exercise to Nepal and Scotland and led his Team on Exercise POWER PLUS 19, a critical national infrastructure assessment exercise in the British Virgin Islands. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he led the Royal Engineer team that advised and supported the NHS in the construction of the NHS Nightingale London Hospital - a 4000 bed ITU hospital built within the ExCeL in a matter of weeks.

Dr Kristen MacAskill

Academic, Cambridge University

Dr Kristen MacAskill as a Lecturer in Engineering, Environment and Sustainable Development at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge. She is the former Course Director for the Construction Engineering Master's programme, a part-time professional-oriented programme also hosted by the Department. She originally trained as a civil engineer and completed a Master's in Engineering Management at Canterbury University, New Zealand. She also obtained an MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development and a PhD from Cambridge.

Before returning to a role in academia, Kristen worked for several years as a consulting engineer in both the water and transport sectors. Her experience covers various areas of infrastructure development, including: strategic level options assessment, post-earthquake damage assessment, infrastructure design, project management and sustainability assessment. She has been a contributor to the Resilience Shift since 2017– an international programme funded by Lloyd's Register Foundation and hosted by Arup, with the goal of facilitating a shift towards resilience in critical infrastructure sectors.

Kristen specialises in research in disaster risk management, risk governance and resilience. She also supports student research in a wider array of subject areas associated with sustainability and with the construction industry.

Davide Stronati

Mott MacDonald’s Global Sustainability Leader

Davide has been the Global Sustainability Leader of Mott MacDonald since November 2012. Before, he was seconded for five years in Anglian Water (UK) instrumental in leading their carbon strategy considered at the cutting edge of low carbon infrastructure asset management.

He is the Chair of the Committee on Engineering and the Environment at the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (Paris, France); Chair of the Sustainability Leadership Team at the Institution of Civil Engineers (London, United Kingdom). Member of the Standard Committee of SuRe, Standards for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure at the Global Infrastructure Basel (Basel, CH); the UN Global Compact network UK Advisory Group (London, UK); the MSc Management Business Advisory Board at Imperial College Business School, (London, UK).

He holds a Degree in Environmental Engineering, summa cum laude from the University of Trieste (Italy); an MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the Cambridge – MIT Institute (UK-US); he attended the High Potentials Leadership Programme at Harvard Business School in Boston (US).

Event venue

Institution of Civil Engineers
One Great George Street
London SW1P 3AA
United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

ICE Events Team

e: [email protected]