Sustainable development in engineering: a review of principles and definition of a conceptual framework
This paper aims to provide engineers and the engineering community with a conceptual framework setting out the connections between engineering projects and the sustainable development of environmental and social systems. The main principles of sustainable development on the one hand and of sustainable engineering on the other hand are first reviewed and summarized. Particular attention is paid to the principles put forward by international and national engineering organizations. Second, concepts and models originating in natural and social sciences are outlined to shed more light on the ways the various aspects of sustainability are related. The conceptual framework we propose combines the reviewed principles, concepts and models in a relevant manner for engineering projects. Engineering and physical or social systems prove to be related in manifold ways. While the most common relations are exposed in the sustainability framework, others have to be further elaborated in order to fully take into account the specificities of the various fields of engineering. Finally, applications of the sustainability framework in engineering practice and engineering education are discussed.
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