Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Peter Guthrie

Department of Engineering

Prof. Peter Guthrie OBE FREng


Peter Guthrie

Director of Research in Sustainable Development

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research group: Sustainable Development

Telephone: +44 1223 7 65627


Research interests

Peter Guthrie seeks to articulate sustainable development for engineers, and to pursue research that enables engineers to deliver more sustainable outcomes.

The research he leads is focused on the integration of sustainable development into decision-making in large infrastructure projects such as large scale civil engineering projects, environmental restoration projects, regeneration schemes, and buildings worldwide.

Recent research has focused on the development of improved understanding of energy efficiency in buildings and the challenges (financial, social and environmental) faced in delivering significantly lower carbon emissions from building stock. The other main strand of research is into decision-making in infrastructure looking at stakeholder networks, the impacts of delay, post-disaster reconstruction, urban development, and heritage value.

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

Research in energy efficiency, demand management, novel financial approaches for energy retrofit. Research in decision-making around construction and development of energy (hydro) schemes, large scale developments.

Manufacturing, design and materials

Exploration of alternative dissemination routes and enhancing the targeting of key messages to different stakeholder groups, presenting insights to the theme members and continuing to champion the role of research in complex sustainability projects. Strong links with and funding support from commercial companies, including Grosvenor Estates, SIG plc, ICE Energy Ltd, Arup, Buro Happold. Research responding to industry needs identified through close working relationships.

Complex, resilient and intelligent systems

Developing thinking through research on how resilience can be used as a way to articulate sustainability, and how risk approaches can inform the process of design.

Research projects

Peter has secured significant funding from EPSRC for Knowledge Transfer under the Sustainable Urban Environments Programme. He is PI for a £500,000 research programme on future policy of energy in the built environment funded by Grosvenor and SIG plc, and led Cambridge’s contribution to a TSB-funded programme on embodied energy in building materials. He is PI for Cambridge’s contribution to the Retrofit 2050 research programme led by Cardiff University.

Teaching activity

Peter currently supervises or advises fourteen PhD students engaged in a range of research, and he supervises five undergraduate and fourteen postgraduate (MPhil) students. Peter also leads and delivers modules on the MPhil course and contributes to several other postgraduate courses in Architecture and Engineering.

Other positions

Peter is currently developing an update on the global sustainability report for the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) which he presented in Seoul in September 2012. He chairs the Sustainability Panel and the Quality Panel for the Northwest Cambridge Project (3,500 homes and mixed development) for the University, and is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Catastrophic Risks in the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Peter chaired the Natural Environment Research Council's Project Advisory Board in setting strategy for the Resource Recovery from Waste Programme in 2012

Peter was a member of the Review Panel for the Government of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) programme which reported in 2012.


Peter is Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge. A civil engineer with geotechnical specialisation by background, Peter has worked as a practising engineer on infrastructure projects before coming to Cambridge in 2000, and has worked extensively in Africa and Asia. He developed approaches to integrating social and environmental considerations into engineering design on projects such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, international airports, nuclear decommissioning, London 2012 Olympic Park, Orange County Great Park in California, and new cities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. His research is focused on energy efficiency, and sustainable development in infrastructure projects internationally. Peter was founder, in 1980, and is now a Vice-President of RedR Engineers for Disaster Relief. He is a Non Executive Director of Buro Happold. He was a member of the UK Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Science Advisory Council from 2004-2011. He was a member of the UK Government’s Project Board for the Severn Tidal Power Study. He is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Catastrophic Risks in the World Economic Forum.