About Us

Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) is a non-profit network committed to building a better world. Established in 2002, ESW is comprised of students, university faculty, and professionals who are dedicated to building a more sustainable world for current and future generations. This involves not only direct projects on campuses, in communities, and internationally, but also educating our communities and ourselves about sustainability as a broad topic.

We believe engineers can be a vital part of the solutions needed to more effectively meet global human needs while providing sustainable access to the world's resources for current and future generations. Developed countries contribute to millions of tons of pollution and waste each year, while every day, people around the world struggle to gain sustainable access to clean water, healthy food, and suitable shelter. Both sides provide huge opportunities for service learning and education, and the next generation of technical professionals should have a background in sustainable design and whole system principles, so that whereever they work, they can help drive improvements.

ESW operates as a network of 40 predominantly collegiate chapters across North America, with the overarching ESW-National driving multi-university initiatives and collaboration, digital education and resource sharing, and community events such as conferences. Through 1000 active members and an emerging set of professional chapters, ESW mobilizes students and faculty members through new educational programs, sustainability-oriented design projects, and volunteer activities that foster practical and innovative solutions to address the world's most critical challenges.

The 2012 National Conference at UC San Diego

Our Unique Approach

ESW's structure is both defining and organizationally sustainable and scaleable. This approach builds around our core Values.

Local chapters working autonomously with a network

ESW chapters are the ones that can make the best decisions about what projects they can and should take on. Chapters choose what to engage in, whether that comes in the form of on-campus energy awareness campaigns or building rain gardens, working with local community groups to peform energy audits or build rainwater harvesting systems, or working with communities internationally to help sustainably meet basic needs. The larger ESW network helps share ideas and connect similar efforts, and ESW-National supports all chapters with skills training and broader education, as well as building awareness for ESW as a community.

A holistic approach to "global sustainability"

ESW addresses problems in both developed and developing communities. We focus on finding more sustainable ways of living to address the challenge of over-consumption, often prevalent in developed nations, as well as increasing sustainable access to basic resources for those who are living in poverty. We believe in building a better world where all of humanity can lead healthy, productive lives, and live in balance with our earth.

Technical fields as one part of the solution

We believe that technical fields, particularly engineering, are a critical part of the key to building a more sustainable world; however, in order to be effective, we must: a) understand past successes and failures of human development; and b) work in partnership with economists, sociologists, entrepreneurs, and other key actors in affecting and sustaining human progress. This goes to our core value that anyone can participate meaningfully - and our leaders come from a wide variety of fields.

Partnering with local organizations for lasting and replicable impact

ESW believes in forming partnerships to coordinate sustainable development projects, where knowledge is exchanged and local organizations are empowered. Although individual people and communities benefit from our work, ESW believes that lasting solutions can only be attained by building the local organizational infrastructure to provide services such as clean water, sanitation, and energy. Furthermore, by working with local organizations, we increase the scale and impact of our efforts. For example, in Honduras, by working with a local organization of Honduran engineers and technicians, ESW has improved the quality of water for hundreds of people in dozens of communities, as compared with in just one village. Furthermore, the local organizational partners gain further capacity to maintain and improve these systems, because they are involved throughout the project lifecycle.