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In response to COVID-19, the exhibition will be closed until further notice.

ICE

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Help us engineer a net zero world

The exhibition


The exhibition explores the future of infrastructure and the role of civil engineers in helping society respond to the challenges of climate change and meet net zero targets by 2050.

Featuring original hand-drawn illustrations and animations, six children talk to TV presenter and engineer Rob Bell about a wide range of global problems.

This educational exhibition is perfect for families, young people and anyone who wants to learn more about engineering.

Six questions about the future of infrastructure


Where will our energy come from?

There are some big issues we have to overcome to make our energy infrastructure sustainable for the future.

How do we decarbonise heat in our homes without increasing costs and fuel poverty? How do we cut carbon in the energy used in heavy industry without making manufacturing uncompetitive? And how do we persuade everyone they have a responsibility to consider their own carbon footprint?

22% of UK's greenhouse gas emissions come from heating
22% of UK's greenhouse gas emissions come from heating
UN Global Goal 7 is for affordable and clean energy
UN Global Goal 7 is for affordable and clean energy
Half of the UK's power comes from low-carbon technologies
Half of the UK's power comes from low-carbon technologies

Engineering a net zero world

Decarbonising energy is challenging but we are making progress.

The electricity sector has reduced its carbon emissions by more than half since 1990 as we switch from coal to wind and other renewables.

The sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2030 and the adoption of electric vehicles increases year on year.

Much of our rail network is already electrified and long-distance trains could soon operate on battery power on some routes.

Civil engineers are involved at every stage, from designing and building a nuclear power station or an offshore wind farm, to creating the charging infrastructure for the electric car revolution or keeping our electric rail network on track.

And they will be at the forefront of helping us access new green energy sources, like hydrogen, which could soon power cars, buses, lorries, trains and even planes.

Ask an engineer

"My passion and motivation as an engineer is to contribute to a global shift away from fossil fuels.

But instead of one giant leap, I see the transition to green energy happening through a series of more achievable steps, involving smaller, local projects that are less complex and consider the socio-economic challenges of the area. This transition will need to be supported by ongoing research and innovation, policy and regulatory changes, and investment.

Most importantly, the transition needs to happen in a fair and just way, and the success of local projects will make the case for replication and larger decarbonised energy clusters to be formed on the pathway to net zero."

Rosheena Jugdhurry

Project case study

Stronelairg and Melgarve substations

Connecting the Stronelairg wind farm to the electricity grid was a major engineering challenge in a remote location in the Scottish Highlands.

Two major substations have enabled 228MW of green energy to flow into the network, enough to power 188,000 homes and save 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

How do we live with flooding?

The UK has a rich network of rivers, lakes and lochs and an extensive coastline with beautiful beaches. Rain falls, water flows over and through our land, and the sea is constantly changing our coastline. Flooding and coastal erosion are part of a natural process.

But their impact can be devastating: loss of life and damage to property; disruption to essential infrastructure and services; and damage to the environment.

As climate change leads to a rise in sea levels and more extreme storms, these risks are growing.

seven-fold increase in extreme flooding
Babies born now could see a 7-fold rise in extreme flooding compared to their their grandparents.
UN Global Goal 13 focuses on climate action
UN Global Goal 13 focuses on climate action.
59 per cent more precipitation in winters by 2050
There could be up to 59%
more winter precipitation by 2050.

Source: National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, Environment Agency, 2020 & Thiery, W et.al. (2021) Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes.

Engineering a net zero world

Civil engineers work in many different ways to manage water from the source to the sea, including mixing natural solutions with built infrastructure. These include blue elements, such as canals, ponds and wetlands; green elements, such as trees, forests, fields and parks; and grey elements, such as dams and seawalls.

To help reduce the risks and impacts of flooding and help communities adapt to our rapidly changing climate, civil engineers must consider green-grey infrastructure in particular.

They are pioneering innovative combinations, using natural buffers, such as seagrasses or reed beds, in combination with more conventional approaches, such flood defences. In the process, they are also helping to reverse the loss of biodiversity.

We can’t stop the rain but the work of civil engineers is helping to lessen the impact of flooding and enable our communities to become more resilient for the future.

Ask an engineer

“Civil engineers in the flooding and environment sector are working at the sharp end of climate change.

We’re helping communities by reducing flood risk, improving our response to flooding, championing adaptation to climate change, protecting and improving the environment, and increasing natural flood management.

We also raise awareness so people can prepare for flooding in order to reduce the impact on their homes and lives Together, we’re working to make the country resilient to flooding and coastal change by creating climate resilience places that protect lives, businesses and communities, all while actively leading on the transition to net zero.”

Ayo Sokale

Project case study

The Boston Barrier

The Boston Barrier in Lincolnshire is providing better protection from flooding to more than 14,000 homes and businesses.

Once complete, it will provide one of the best standards of tidal flood defence in the UK.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

What can we do to end waste?

Historically, our economy has depended on a linear system where natural resources are extracted and processed to be raw materials; raw materials are manufactured into consumer products; consumers then dispose of the products after use.

However, natural resources are limited, and we need to use them more efficiently. In order to address this challenge, we need a circular economy which is about maximising resources and designing waste out of the system.

Less than 9 percent of the global economy is circular
Less than 9% of the global economy is circular.
UN Global Goal 12 calls for responsible consumption
UN Global Goal 12 calls for responsible consumption.
Infrastructure & housing have the largest resource footprint of 38.8 billion tonnes per year
Infrastructure & housing have the largest resource footprint of 38.8bn tonnes per year.

Source: Circularity Gap Report 2020, The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE).

Engineering a net zero world

Moving from a linear to a circular economy means the top priority must be preventing waste in the first place, closely followed by reusing and recycling materials whenever possible.

So how do civil engineers support the world to become more circular?

They are vital to integrating sustainable materials and circular principles into the built world around us. Civil engineers ensure that recycled and renewable materials are taken into consideration during the design phase of construction projects, as well as testing and monitoring the quality of these materials throughout the projects.

Sending waste to landfill should be the last resort for all of us, and we need civil engineers to design and build modern recycling facilities that enable the materials we consume to be reused in a continuous loop.

Ask an engineer

"Engineers have a huge opportunity to end waste. First, we must find ways to consume less and use what we have better, for longer.

Astoundingly, it's estimated that 13% of the materials that go to a construction site go direct to waste without even being used!

To cut carbon and reduce waste, we must use these materials more efficiently and keep them in use for longer.

Civil engineers can also 'design for deconstruction', ensuring that materials are kept in their highest value form, and available to use again and again across projects.

If we can all be more circular and consume less, together, we can eliminate waste and protect our planet's resources for future generations."

Brittany Harris

Project case study

Newark Waste and Water Improvement Project

Severn Trent Water invested £60m to improve the waste and water supply for Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire.

The project aimed to relieve 400 homes and business from sewer flooding and provide a robust waste and water supply system to serve the town for many years to come.

Water, sanitation and wastewater utilities play an important role in the circular economy.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

Do we need smarter cities?

There are many ways in which a city may be ‘smart’, but what they have in common is that they use of smart technologies and data as the means to solve sustainability challenges – economic, social and environmental issues.

Smart technologies range from the very infrastructure of cities themselves, such as smart energy grids and autonomous vehicles, through to much lower cost solutions such as smartphone apps, online platforms that crowdsource people’s sustainable ideas and low-cost environmental sensors. Data is central to smart cities, in particular, the use of big data and open data.

seven-fold increase in extreme flooding
Only half of the world’s population lives within walking distance of a public transport system.
UN Global Goal 11 aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
UN SDG 11 seeks to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient & sustainable.
59 per cent more precipitation in winters by 2050
Cities are responsible for around 70 per cent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, United Nations.

Engineering a net zero world

Engineers have always been key to the development of our cities to provide the essential infrastructure we need to live, work and play.

But in the age of smart cities they’ll be required to act as innovators, who can find new ways to think about how digital technology may help to address low carbon challenges.

So what are the benefits of our cities becoming smarter?

Digital means improving efficiency – doing things faster or for less. Digital also enables things to be done differently. But for smart cities to succeed everyone with a stake in the urban environment – from communities to businesses and decision makers – must work together.

Ask an engineer

"Engineers have a huge opportunity to end waste. First, we must find ways to consume less and use what we have better, for longer.

Astoundingly, it's estimated that 13% of the materials that go to a construction site go direct to waste without even being used!

To cut carbon and reduce waste, we must use these materials more efficiently and keep them in use for longer.

Civil engineers can also 'design for deconstruction', ensuring that materials are kept in their highest value form, and available to use again and again across projects.

If we can all be more circular and consume less, together, we can eliminate waste and protect our planet's resources for future generations."

Peter Greenhalgh

Project case study

Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT City)

GIFT City is a business district, currently under construction, on the banks of the Sabarmati river in India.

Project designers aim to build ‘state of the art connectivity’ and urban transport systems from the ground up.

Innovations include a district-wide cooling system and automated vacuum waste collection.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

Why don’t we value water?

While earth is the Blue Planet, only 3% of earth’s water is freshwater, and less than 1% is usable by humans and other life forms.

Treating water, abstracted it from rivers, reservoirs or below ground, and then delivering it to our homes, requires huge infrastructure and energy. This makes the process carbon intensive.

If we also include emissions from heating water for our homes, offices and factories, our water use accounts for 6% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the UK.

It’s definitely time we stopped taking water for granted.

The world consumes 100 billion tonnes of materials per year
UK water supply is forecast to decrease by 7% by 2045 as a result of climate change & limits to sustainable abstraction.
Less than 9 percent of the global economy is circular
UN Global Goal 6 focuses on clean water and sanitation.
Infrastructure & housing have the largest resource footprint of 38.8 billion tonnes per year
The UK needs an extra 4,000 megalitres of water a day to assure long-term supply.

Source: Water UK & National Infrastructure Assessment, National Infrastructure Commission.

Engineering a net zero world

We can all do our bit to reduce the carbon footprint of our water by valuing it more and not wasting it. But civil engineers can do even more.

They can develop new strategies to tackle leakage from ageing underground pipes, collaborate on innovative new water treatment processes and make water infrastructure smarter and more efficient.

The work that engineers are doing to decarbonise electricity will make the energy used for these water processes more sustainable. They are even helping to return energy to the grid by capturing biomethane from wastewater treatment and using it to our power homes.

Through their work in the water sector, civil engineers are also helping to clean up the environment by stopping sewage spilling from sewers into rivers. They are also working with nature to restore previous habitats to improve biodiversity and helps us manage our water resources.

Ask an engineer

“When water flows so readily from our taps, it’s easy to forget there are places in the world where people spend many hours per day collecting water from remote locations.

In the UK, it often takes a disruption in service to help us realise how crucial water is for every single daily activity, from brushing our teeth to cooking dinner.

But I’m sure many people would value water more if they understood the complexities of the taking raw water and turning it into drinking water and distributing it through thousands of miles of underground pipe systems.

As civil engineers, it’s our responsibility for finding the best value solutions for managing water, including reducing any environment and climate impacts of the assets that we design.”

Matt Kuhn

Project case study

Deephams Sewage Treatment Work major upgrade project

This state-of-the-art sewage treatment works at Edmonton in North London is improving the final effluent quality discharged to the River Lee, while increasing the capacity to manage future population rises and reduce odour emissions.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

Can we keep travelling?

So, what can we do to reduce the carbon footprint of travelling?

We could use our own muscles to get around by walking or pedalling, but this active travel requires safe networks to make it an easy and pleasant alternative to using a car. This people-powered travel also needs to be better connected to public transport, so it’s straightforward to move from one mode to another.

And as our climate changes, it’s important to maintain and improve our roads and travel networks so they are more resilient to the extreme weather we are predicted to experience in the future.

Carbon emissions from international flights more than doubled from 1990-2019
Carbon emissions from international flights more than doubled from 1990-2019.
UNDG 11 aims for safe, affordable, accessible & sustainable transport systems
UN SDG 11 aims for safe, affordable, accessible & sustainable transport systems for all.
Electric motors are 3 times as efficient as petrol
Electric motors are 3 times as efficient as petrol.

Source: Department for Transport, Transport and Environment Statistics 2021 Annual Report & National Infrastructure Assessment, National Infrastructure Commission.

Engineering a net zero world

Civil engineers are designing, building and maintaining the infrastructure to allow us to make greener transport choices.

They are constructing the network of charging points needed to allow us to move away from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles.

You’ll find them creating new cycle lanes and paths, building bridges and tunnels around obstacles, planning more bus routes and tramways, upgrading train stations and railways to accommodate modern electric trains to carry more passengers, and collaborating on new technologies to decarbonise air travel and airports.

It’s not just people that move, but things – and civil engineers are also playing their part to clean up the freight sector – from things like increasing rail capacity to take lorries off the road to improving ports and harbours so more goods can arrive by sea.

And all the while, civil engineers are finding ways to cut down on the carbon they use in construction, or prolong the life of existing structures, like bridges, so they don’t waste carbon building something new when they don’t need to.

Ask an engineer

“Transport is the highest pollution sector in the UK. The private car is the biggest culprit, but interestingly, the vast majority of car journeys are less than five miles – a distance covered without too much difficulty on a bike for many people.

There is, therefore, huge potential to convert car journeys into cycling, walking and public transport trips.

Our duty as civil engineers is to design infrastructure that integrates cycling and walking appropriately into the transport network, making short journeys by bike and on foot more pleasant, cheaper and quicker than the private car.

High quality infrastructure can make it easier for people to make the right choice when it comes to travel."

Rhiannon Evans

Project case study

The NI Multimodal Transport Hub (North-West)

This major transport gateway in Northern Ireland promotes active and sustainable travel, bringing together a wide range of transport modes and providing enhanced facilities for both customers and staff.

Dive deeper

Explore ICE's blogs, webinars and resources the circular economy, as civil engineers help us all waste less and recycle more.

Visit the exhibition


This national UK touring exhibition runs until the end of 2024.

Current venue

16 May - 07 July 2024

Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement
Macclesfield
SK11 9DW

Map
Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement
Macclesfield
SK11 9DW

Sparks Bristol


You can catch a semi-permanent version of the exhibition on display at Sparks Bristol, a new arts and sustainability hub in the former Marks & Spencer store in Bristol city centre.

Schools can book a STEM workshop led by a civil engineer via [email protected]

Address

Sparks Bristol
78 Broadmead
Bristol
BS1 3DS

Explore the exhibition online


To see the detail of what's in our exhibition, or if you're unable to make it to any of the venues, take the virtual tour below.

Sponsors


Arup

Arup

Arup is a world class firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists.

Environment Agency

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency works to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development.

Graham

Graham

Privately owned, national contractor delivering lasting impact across a wide range of civil engineering sectors.

Jones Bros

Jones Bros

Jones Bros is one of the UK’s leading civil engineering contractors with a wealth of experience across a broad range of sectors.

Laing O'Rourke

Laing O'Rourke

Laing O’Rourke is a privately owned, internationally focussed engineering enterprise with world-class capabilities spanning the entire client value chain.

National Highways

National Highways

We manage and improve England’s motorways and major A-roads, helping our customers have safer, smoother and more reliable journeys.

Network Rail

Network Rail

We work round-the-clock to provide a safe, reliable experience for the millions using Europe's fastest-growing railway each and every day.

Tony Gee

Tony Gee

Consulting Engineers, Tony Gee is renowned for delivering complex, competitive permanent and temporary infrastructure design solutions.