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.

Aerial image of Mordecai Island in Barnegat Bay after sediment placement in 2019.

Posted on January 13, 2022

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.
Levee rehab borrow pit converted into emergent wetland at Missouri River levee system L-536 (2021). The repetitive cycle of repairing levees in place after each major flood event, such as what was historically conducted at L-536, can led to increased Operations and Maintenance and Repair, Replacement, and Rehabilitation costs, and as the infrastructure ages there can be general concerns over the effective level of protection. After the 2019 flood breached the L-536 levee in multiple locations, the L-536 levee setback project (conducted under PL 84-99) restored a level of risk reduction at the site while reconnecting the Missouri River to over 1,000 acres of its floodplain.  The expansion of riverward floodplain land results in the additional benefits of 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
A Systems Approach
Sustainable
Science-based
Collaborative
Efficient and cost effective
Socially responsive
Innovative
Adaptive
It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Newsletter
Click to Subscribe