11 June 21

How are sustainable infrastructure solutions helping to tackle societal challenges?

Higher temperatures. Countries without internet. Increased poverty. We have all witnessed these changes occurring across the globe. Sustainable infrastructure encourages economic growth through job creation and the purchase of goods and services, but additionally helps to target climate change, quality of life, and promotes the effective use of financial resources.

Addressing issues affecting the planet and its population is a huge task and will require the support and participation of the multiple stakeholders, including governing bodies, and public and private investment. Below, we highlight the ways in which two societal challenges have been positively impacted by the adoption of sustainable infrastructure.

Improving world connectivity

The digital evolution has changed the way we work, shop, and socialise. Whilst trends were changing, such as the roll-out of 5G technology, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the speed at which the world had to adapt. The reliance on the internet increased dramatically over the past 12 months. With the ‘new normal’ seeing the majority of services reliant on online connectivity, the importance of internet connection and data usage is paramount. The demands on global digital infrastructure will continue to increase at an exponential rate over the next decade.

To allow businesses to operate, students to study, and individuals to work remotely the world of connectivity needs to grow. Not just in the UK, but globally.

There has been an:

  • Increase in the number of global internet users
  • Increase in the data consumption per user
  • Increased data transfer speed
  • Increased volume of data resulting in increased demand for data storage

Investing in digital infrastructure is crucial to driving our interconnected world, underpinning economic growth and sustainable development.

Low carbon heating

Higher temperatures. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. We have all witnessed these changes to the earth. Undoubtedly climate change is the greatest threat to the flora and fauna of countries worldwide, as well as social wellbeing and economic stability. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is paramount to the health of the planet and acting now is important.

In Q4 of 2020, prime minster Boris Johnson set out a 1-point plan to get the UK on track for net zero. Ahead of the Cop26 climate summit that will take place in November of this year, Johnson promised £12 billion would be injected into climate change efforts to see the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

However, this is 29 years away. The consensus is that significant action is needed now to mitigate the impact of global warming. Greta Thunberg famously stated: “Right here, right now is where we draw the line.” Fortunately, headway has been made and the development and implementation of infrastructure solutions has begun the answer to the emissions crisis.

Whilst the carbon-intensive national grid does incorporate some renewable energy sources into its supply, it accounts for a very small percentage. Add to this the gas which is lost throughout the network and it is easy to understand why a greener solution is needed to help combat climate change.

Heat networks are playing a transformative role in the pathway to the decarbonisation of heat. The series of underground pipes offer a self-sustaining heat network that reduces gas consumption and wastes far less energy. The government has recognised the importance of heat networks as a key method of decarbonizing the UK energy system. Throughout the UK the government has facilitated funding, in cities such as London and Manchester, to begin the transition.