Our Insights

Designing resilient infrastructure

Engineering for the future

Global megatrends—from the surge of people on the planet to the scarcity of the resources it needsare changing the way we design, construct and operate structures and systems that will benefit society for the long term. While the world sees challenges, we see engineering solutions.
The next generation of engineering will evolve societies from industrial to sustainable development. Over the last decade we have designed and built more than 30 smart city projects in every region of the world. While “sustainability” has always been intrinsic to Bechtel’s engineering, in order to secure the future we want it must also be efficient, resilient, reliable, and affordable to operate. This is our approach, rooted in a century of global experience, proven engineering techniques and processes. 

New Research: A Roadmap for Resilience

Bechtel has contributed to a two-year study with re:focus partners culminating in a report, A Roadmap for Resilience that helps to guide cities on how to leverage private investment in building more resilient and integrated infrastructure. The report summarizes projects that create both public value and private investment opportunities, and that will create a robust pipeline of investable resilient infrastructure projects to benefit communities and society. 

Published March 25, 2015


By challenging the status quo and finding new ways to generate financeable large-scale projects, we are helping city leaders to set the agenda and solve the growing imperative for resilient infrastructure. —Walker Kimball, General Manager, Americas

Other research initiatives

Bechtel works with groups around the world to further discussions on sustainabilty.

CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.  For 50 years, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has developed practical solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. 

USCIB addresses a broad range of policy issues with the objective of promoting an open system of world trade, finance and investment in which business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare and protection of the environment. In 2014, Bechtel presented a paper to the USCIB on Infrastructure's role in achieving post-2015 United Nations sustainable development goals.

The Smart Cities Council is an advisor and market accelerator. We promote the move to smart, sustainable cities. We contribute to our Partners' business success through advocacy and action.

Re:focus partners are social entrepreneurs with expertise in public policy and sustainable development. They design integrated resilient infrastructure systems—including water, waste, and energy projects—and develop new public-private partnerships to align public funds and leverage private investment for vulnerable communities around the world.

Case Studies

Future-proofing our energy security

Today, Bechtel is not only helping secure America’s conventional power with renewable energy, we are developing the energy source of tomorrow.
Bechtel and its partners are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop unlimited, clean energy by fusing atoms of deuterium (contained in seawater) and tritium (widely available on the Earth’s surface and oceans). Energy will be generated by a fusion power plant that produces no greenhouse gases or other harmful emissions, operates continuously, and does not require disposal of radioactive waste.
In the last 5 years Bechtel delivered three world class solar projects powering approximately 275,000 homes in California. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, an engineering feat in the California’s Mojave Desert, uses over 170,000 computer-controlled mirrors to follow the sun’s trajectory. The System has already nearly doubled the amount of solar electricity in the U.S. On the east coast, together with our partner a first-of-a-kind high voltage current converter technology and cables will deliver an estimated 3,000 megawatts of renewable wind energy to power New Jersey.   

Transforming the kingdom

Saudi Arabia is moving forward with its long term economic development goal of diversifying its petroleum-based industries into other productive sectors, including manufacturing, ports, logistics, downstream products, and business centers. This transformation requires an ambitious infrastructure initiative that promotes private sector development, new sustainable cities and communities, and protected habitats. 
Bechtel is working with the kingdom to develop four of six new economic cities: King Abdullah Economic City, Knowledge Economic City, Jazan Economic City, and Prince Adbul Aziz Bin Mousaed Economic City. Core to the cities’ planning and design is economic, social and environmental sustainability. Bechtel is using technologies that not only generate conceptual visualizations of the projects, but store critical data for sustainable planning, engineering, and construction. Examples include using recycled water for irrigation, extensive adoption of solar power for heating and cooling, and applying urban sensors and analytics to optimize energy efficiency.

Re-engineering mines

A productive mine operation requires large quantities of water: from transporting materials between various processing to suppressing dust and cleaning equipment. Yet, drawing from local water systems has become increasingly challenging, especially in South America. Regulatory requirements and societal concerns over competing demands for water continue to grow in the region. We are providing engineering solutions to cope with possible constraints for the mining industry.
The Escondida copper project, located in Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth. The average annual rainfall is six-tenths of an inch or about 15 millimeters. Our Escondida Water Supply project is helping to secure a reliable water supply for two copper concentrators while preserving Chile’s scarce groundwater supplies.
Bechtel is developing a new seawater desalination system that includes an intake and outflow structure more than 65 feet (20 meters) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Seawater is delivered into a desalination plant where it is processed to separate brine, filter minerals and other biological content. The desalinated water will then be pumped from the port of Coloso to the mine high in the Andes through a 112-mile (180-kilometer) pipeline.