Structural engineering affects the environment as a large amount of high intensity carbon materials are used in projects around the globe mainly concrete and steel which have a direct effect on the environment.
Concrete is the largest emitter of Co2 to the environment from the engineering sector as it causes up to 8% of global Co2 emissions if it was a country, it would be 3rd on the list behind China and America.
As structural engineers we specify concrete and steel in our designs which have a direct impact on the environment. In the era of modern structural engineering, there are improvements which can be made including the overuse of the same materials, insufficient recycling efforts to reuse existing materials and designs that do not consider the future.
As structural engineers we have the potential to aid the environment and have a large beneficial effect on the environment with a few considerations.
The design of new roads, bridges and tunnels can save millions of journey hours each year which in turn saves on carbon emissions. Although when you see a large engineering project which no doubt is affecting the environment during construction.
An example of this would be the new 1951 Canakkale bridge in Turkey which has cut journey times across the Dardanells Strait from 1 hour to 6 minutes and is estimated to save 450 million pounds a year of fuel used.
This gives you an idea of how good design when complete it can have a positive impact on the environment and offset some of the emissions from the construction phase.