WWE was engaged in environmentally friendly, sustainable engineering practices decades before these terms were first used.  Synonyms for sustainability include “resilience,” “risk assessment,” “sustainable economics” and “adaptation.”

In the late 1960s, WWE founder and current CFO Ken Wright developed what were then-innovative techniques in the sustainable design of flood control facilities at Denver’s Harvard Gulch.  At a time when many new flood control facilities were concrete structures put behind a fence, Wright worked with nature to help redesign the gulch into a more natural channel, wildlife habitat and a safe, public amenity.  His regional unit hydrograph approach to Harvard Gulch design became the basis for the Denver Regional Council of Governments’ 1969 Urban Storm Drainage Criteria Manual, which evolved into the Urban Drainage and Flood Control Manual used today.

Since then, WWE has worked closely with hundreds of clients to integrate sustainability principles into their projects.  As a recent example, WWE has worked with the Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District to develop guidelines for green roofs in the metro Denver area, recognizing tradeoffs associated with green roof benefits and irrigation requirements in a semi-arid climate. This work has involved other low impact development features, as well.

WWE is focused on the LEED principles of sustainable sites and water efficiency (two WWE staff members are LEED accredited professionals).  For example, WWE has worked closely with the Green Industries of Colorado to promote best management practices (BMPs) and training related to water conservation and efficiency in landscaping.  Additionally, WWE’s work with the Keep it Clean Partnership in Boulder, Colorado, related to implementation of Low Impact Development practices is consistent with the sustainable principle of valuing water on a site and seeking opportunities for sites to mimic more natural hydrologic conditions through surface runoff volume reductions.   Many of WWE’s projects emphasize the role of preserving wide, undisturbed riparian corridors that provide benefits for wildlife, water quality and flood protection for developments.  Water reuse and conservation are other WWE specialties that are also important components of this ideal.

WWE’s study of the work of ancient civil engineers through our non-profit organization, Wright Paleohydrological Institute, teaches us that it is smart to incorporate low maintenance principles into public works designs.  Roman aqueduct engineering, New World pre-historic Inca construction and others addressed considerations of longevity, low maintenance and low impact development.  WWE field research on ancient public works has helped shed light on the thoughtfulness of long ago builders.  In our modern designs, WWE strives to implement sustainability principles like the ones that have kept the Inca fountains at Machu Picchu flowing for 500 years.

References Available on Request