Sustainability Engineer, Sam Hurst

As part of our series celebrating Green Careers Week, we spoke to Sam Hurst, a Sustainability Engineer with many years of experience. As a chartered civil engineer, he has worked on a range of diverse projects, from nuclear sites to bridges, in countries from Dubai to Australia. Sam is also a Go Construct STEM Ambassador, who is passionate about sustainability and educating young people about what they can do to build a better world.  

Tell us about a green construction project that is making a difference

Sam: “In Cornwall, exciting projects are happening along the A30 road. These projects aim to make the area better for everyone. One part of the work is all about improving safety and helping people in the community use bicycles more easily. Another important goal is to make nature and the environment around the road healthier and more beautiful. They've created something called ‘green ribs’, which are like nature paths extending from the road.

These paths connect different natural areas and make it easier for animals and plants to move around safely. The project also involves planting trees, creating meadows, restoring ponds, and making hedges better. Some special organizations are helping by restoring woodlands and grasslands, making homes for animals and improving the environment. All of this work helps the wildlife, the environment, and the people who live nearby.”


How has the approach to sustainability in construction evolved?

Sam: “Over the years, how we think about making buildings and structures has changed a lot to help our planet. At first, people mainly focused on following rules and reducing immediate harm to the environment. But as we learned more about climate change and how it hurts our world, construction experts started looking at the bigger picture.

Now, when we talk about sustainability, we mean lots of things, like using energy wisely, using materials that don't harm nature, making less waste, and being kind to communities. Nowadays, when we build something, we think about how it will affect the environment and people at every step, from planning to tearing it down. Also, smart inventions like eco-friendly materials and new building methods are helping us build big structures while being kind to the Earth.”


Which green construction trends do you predict will gain traction in the coming years?

Sam: “In the future, engineers will play a vital role in making decisions that are good for the future of the human population. This means they will need to understand not only how things are built but also how they affect nature. Sustainability isn't just about controlling carbon; it's about making sure our planet stays healthy for us and all living things. Right now, people mainly think about reducing carbon emissions, but it's just as important to think about protecting different types of plants and animals, which we call biodiversity.

Biodiversity is essential because it gives us food and medicine, helps control the weather, and even prevents floods when animals like beavers build dams. In the UK, new rules are coming soon that say when construction happens, the site has to be left in a better state than before. This change means engineers will team up with scientists who study nature (ecologists) to make sure our building projects are good for both people and the environment.”

Feeling inspired? Discover more about sustainability in construction and green construction careers today…

If you want to learn more about sustainability in construction or discover the different green construction careers, get in touch with Go Construct