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Sustaining Infrastructure

In just a few short years we appear to have got the message about sustainable architecture! Some might argue that it's too late anyway, but there is no doubt that the consensus is firmly fixed on doing something at least. And, to emphasise the fact that the solution, if there is one, is very much in the hands of its customers, Bentley has adopted as its secondary logo the motto "Sustaining Infrastructure."

In fact, when you think about it, that's a pretty big step for Bentley to make. In just a few short years the emphasis has shifted from using the latest technology to improving building methods, integrating design and analysis solutions, facilitating workflows and improving profitability, to coping (with an increasingly strident level of urgency) with the state of the world's infrastructure!

A couple of definitions were put forward over twenty years ago, when some far-sighted individuals started to worry a bit more about the way in which we were mishandling the planet's resources. In 1987, the Bruntland Commission defined sustainability as "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The Natural Step, a non-profit educational and advisory body, added to that definition in 1988 by saying that sustainability was "Creating new ways to live and prosper while ensuring an equitable, healthy future for all people and the planet."
Expanding on this, their definition proposed that in a sustainable society, nature won't be subject to systematically increasing:

• Concentrations of substances extracted from the earth's crust

• Concentrations of substances produced by society

• Degradation by physical means

• And, in that society, human needs being met worldwide.

The problem is that, whilst these aims are entirely laudable, they don't stack up against what is happening in the outside world. A very large proportion of the world's population don't come anywhere near meeting their own aspirations, let alone matching the level of attainments of the developed world.

The White Paper pumps out some alarming statistics: 1.1 billion of the world's population don't have access to clean drinking water, and 2.6 billion don't have adequate sanitation. Half the world's population live on less than $2 a day, including 1.2 billion on less than $1 a day!
In developing countries, 90-95 percent of sewage and 70% of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters, where they pollute the usable water supply. At the other end of the scale, by 2050 the number of cars in China could rise to 500 million and in India, 600 million. Do the maths and work out what that means when you consider that 200 million vehicles in America consume about 11% of the world's daily petroleum output.

By 2020 roughly one-third of the world's population faces an acute freshwater shortage, whilst irrigation, which accounts for 70% of the world's water demands, loses more than half of its distribution because of leaks and wasteful practices. Little wonder then that the White Paper states that “The choices we make as a global society in regard to infrastructure investments will directly affect the quality of human life and the long term health of the planet.”
that the salvation of the world is in the hands of infrastructure professionals. Bentley says as much in the White Paper.

Slight problem - there is a worldwide shortage of infrastructure professionals! Manpower Inc. did a 2007 Talent Shortage Survey, interviewing nearly 37,000 companies in 27 countries to assess the impact of labour shortages in each region.

This is put down to aging populations, declining birthrates, societal changes, inadequate education programmes, inadequate recruiting to technical professions and so on. Manpower says, again, that the situation will grow more acute over the next 10 years, and could threaten the engines of world economic growth and prosperity.

Hardly the sort of news you want to hear right now, I bet. What can you do about it? Whether you are a Bentley user or not, read the White Paper - Sustaining Infrastructure - from the Home Page of Bentley’s website! You will note that Bentley does, unsurprisingly, provide software solutions that address all areas of infrastructure planning and development, but you will also find a list of BE Award Nominees, many of which come from developing countries, and which have been nominated because of the direct impact they are having on their particular country's infrastructure development.


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