SENG Conference 2013 Report
The Sustainable Engineering Society 2013 National Conference was held in Canberra from the 18th to the 20th of September. Sponsored by Holcim and the ANU, and themed around ‘looking back…looking forward’ the conference provided an exciting forum to take stock of our sustainability journey and to contemplate future challenges.
A great line up of interesting keynote speakers were supported by a diverse and high quality technical program. An early networking session promoted interaction across the attendee’s, creating enthusiasm and excitement which carried through the whole conference.
The conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from Shane Rattenbury, Greens MLA and Minister in the Labor ACT Government. His key message was the need for industry professions to be more vocal in supporting sustainability. That helps him in his political challenges to promote sustainable policy outcomes.
Ex-Governor Major General Michael Jeffery provided an insightful keynote on his passion related to healthy soils and the relationship with water resource management. Knowing that someone of this national stature with contacts and influence across the most senior levels of government and society is a great supporter of sustainability and environmental management, provides great hope and assurance to professionals in the field.
Field trips hosted during the conference included tours of the ANU solar concentrator, Veolia’s Woodlawn Bioreactor and Infigen’s Windfarm
The conference dinner was held at the BoatHouse on the shores of the sometime blue-green Lake Burley Griffin where Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute provided a highly entertaining critique of politics, policy, and economics. We also celebrated great achievements within our profession, with the presentation of awards being made to the Environmental College Young Professional Engineer of the Year, and the 2012 and 2013 SENG National Student Award winners Daniel Harrington and Kylie Bishop.
The second day of the conference started with a combined keynote address from Professors Barbara Norman (Canberra University) and Andrew Bakers (ANU) who provided great insights into the challenges of sustainable urban development, and the future of renewable technologies. A clear message was the increasing affordability of renewable technology, especially solar PV. It may not be too far in the future where PV is a cheaper energy supply than coal-fired power stations.
Dr Robert Costanza from the ANU as our final keynote gave a great global perspective on the state of the environment, and challenged the use of GDP as an indicator of prosperity and wellbeing.
Finally, the great success of the conference is well and truly founded on the quality of the technical presentations provided. A great deal of positive and enthusiastic feedback on the presentations has been received by SENG, commenting on their diversity, interest, and technical content. The people in our industry provided a fantastic snapshot of sustainability across Australia (and indeed in space!).
It is clear that sustainability is alive and well and is a fundamental part of society and our workplaces. There may be ups and downs in the journey, but in the long-term, the conference showed that sustainability is here to stay, and there is an exciting and rewarding future for us.
For the program and to download the conference papers click here.
To visit the conference website please click here
Chair, SENG 2013 Conference
Thank you to our sponsors: