The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature® (EWN) Initiative enables more sustainable delivery of economic, social, and environmental benefits associated with infrastructure.

Watch as Dr. Todd Bridges, the National Lead for the EWN initiative explains the four major elements of EWN.

Moving Towards Sustainable Practices

Sustainable water resources infrastructure is achieved through the beneficial integration of engineering and natural systems. With recent advances in the fields of engineering and ecology, there is an opportunity to combine these fields of practice into a single collaborative and cost-effective approach for infrastructure development and environmental management.

Triple-win outcomes are achieved throughout EWN by systematically integrating social, environmental, and economic considerations at every phase of a project. The results are innovative and resilient solutions that are more socially acceptable, viable and equitable, and, ultimately, more sustainable.

A rendering of a horizontal levee design that achieves storm and flood risk reduction while increasing habitat value.

Key Elements

  • Use science and engineering to produce operational efficiencies supporting sustainable delivery of project benefits.
  • Use natural processes to maximum benefit, thereby reducing demands on limited resources, minimizing the environmental footprint of projects, and enhancing the quality of project benefits.
  • Broaden and extend the base of benefits provided by projects to include substantiated economic, social, and environmental benefits.
  • Use science-based collaboration to organize and focus interests, stakeholders, and partners to reduce social friction, resistance, and project delays while producing more broadly acceptable projects.
Missouri River L-536 (2021). The repetitive cycle of repairing levees in place after each major flood event has led to increased Operations and Maintenance and Repair, Replacement, and Rehabilitation costs and increased flood risk; the cycle has also raised general concern over the effective level of protection. The L-536 levee setback project reconnected part of the Missouri River to its floodplain restoring the level of risk reduction at the site to its preflood status and realizing additional benefits of reduced navigation maintenance: increased recreational opportunities; aesthetics; cultural, spiritual, and educational opportunities; and additional fish and wildlife habitat.

EWN Strategic Plan 2018-2023

Building on the success of EWN to date, the EWN Strategy 2018-2023 will expand implementation by:

  • Broadening and deepening engagement and collaboration with colleagues across mission areas and organizations;
  • Growing the capability to apply EWN principles and practices at project and system scales; and
  • Increasing the number and diversity of EWN applications while communicating effectively about accomplishments and future opportunities.

EWN will continue to support the USACE Civil Works’ commitment to strengthen the Nation by bringing innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions to water resources challenges while contributing to the missions of its partners.

Shared Success

While developed as a USACE initiative, Engineering With Nature is accomplished by the collaborative work of partners from around the world. The tenth-anniversary video below highlights the wide-ranging partners who understand the vision of Engineering With Nature, aligning human purposes and natural processes for greater benefit.

The strong relationships and collaborations built with partners around the world have fueled EWN’s progress over the past decade. Some of EWN’s partners share their greetings and congratulations on the 10th anniversary of EWN. Watch the full-length feature.

Guiding Principles

Holistic

An ecosystem approach for planning, designing, constructing and operating projects where social, economic and environmental factors are equitably weighed in the decision-making process.

A Systems Approach

Reflecting the reality that USACE projects exist in complex physical and social/cultural systems, and that a single action influences many other parts of the system.

Sustainable

Focused on the long-term sustainability and resilience of project solutions and the benefits streams provided by the system over time.

Science-based

Built on first understanding, then working deliberately with natural forces and processes to accomplish engineering goals.

Collaborative

Based on effective partner and stakeholder communication, engagement and collaboration through the entire life cycle of a project beginning at the earliest conceptual stages.

Efficient and cost effective

Reducing time and rework, while minimizing social friction.

Socially responsive

Aligned with the values, objectives, interests and priorities of USACE, partners, stake holders and society at larger.

Innovative

Embracing new and emerging technologies and incorporating continuous learning, technology transfer and adoption of new and leading practices.

Adaptive

Demonstrating adaptive attitudes, structures and processes that enable a living, evolving and sustainable practice.

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