Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group

Introducing “Transition Engineering”: A Bold New Approach To The Climate Crisis

Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group

Transition Engineering
Transition Engineering

Dr Susan Krumdieck spent years working on renewable energy systems. Then she decided to invent something that would be a game changer.

Dr Krumdieck is a professor of mechanical engineering and co-founder of the “Transition Engineering” movement: a new discipline focusing on rapidly delivering the 80% reduction in greenhouse gas production that is necessary to avoid runaway climate change.

There is a growing consensus that urgent action is needed to prevent mass displacement of populations and ecosystem collapse. But what exactly do we need to DO? How will we do it? Who is “we”? Dr Krumdieck’s book, "Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future", provides the missing piece of the puzzle: the operations manual for the carbon downshift.

“Unsustainability is the failure of successfully engineered, economically feasible, politically viable and socially acceptable systems,” she says. “Therefore, engineers who know these systems, design them and operate them, must be responsible for transitioning them to low carbon.”

“When my son was a boy, he was getting really worried about climate change. He wanted to know that sustainable energy, my research area at the time, would be the solution. I still remember the conversation 15 years ago when I had to come clean. I had to tell him that even if every green energy project was successful, it wouldn’t be enough to stop the unsustainable use of fossil fuels or to meet global warming targets. When your son, with total faith in you says, ‘well, Mum, you have to figure out what will work’, then you have to challenge your assumptions.”

Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future is unique in that it doesn’t prescribe solution technologies, but offers a robust methodology that experts in governments, industries and communities can use to discover their own zero-carbon future and how to bring it into being, one project at a time.

Transition projects focus on eliminating fossil fuel use in an existing system in a specific location, using science-based modelling, creative brainstorming, idea generation and innovation. The methodology has been developed over two decades of research and multidisciplinary collaborations around the world, to discover transition projects in the fields of transportation, housing, commercial buildings, consumer products, air travel, agriculture and energy use.

Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future is for anyone who wants to make a positive difference but doesn’t know where to start. The book examines new strategies emerging in response to the mega-issues of global climate change, decline in conventional oil supply, scarcity of key industrial minerals, and local environmental constraints, and provides a seven-step methodology for designing a programme of change. Clear and accessibly written, it is for engineers, academics, teachers, policymakers, decision-makers, entrepreneurs, community leaders and activists who are seeking a new approach, who want to know where they should apply their efforts to effect real change.

“We can’t predict the future, but we know this century will be different from the last,” says Dr Krumdieck. “Fossil hydrocarbons make up more than 90% of current energy supply. Fifty years from now, fossil fuels will not be part of the consumer lifestyle. That transition starts now, with thousands of different shift projects.”


Transition Engineering: Building a Sustainable Future is published by CRC Press and released on 30 September 2019. 

A video explaining transition engineering is available on YouTube

About the author

Dr Susan Krumdieck has taught energy engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand for 20 years. Her research focuses on developing new methods and technologies for achieving decarbonisation in transportation systems and urban regeneration. She is also co-founder and a trustee of the Global Association for Transition Engineering (GATE), serves on the editorial board of six journals, including Energies, Energy Conservation & Management and Biophysical Economics, and has edited special issues of Energy Policy, Energies, and Sustainability. 

About the Global Association for Transition Engineering (GATE)

The Global Association for Transition Engineering (GATE) was co-founded by Dr Krumdieck to support professionals worldwide to develop and implement the transition engineering concept. GATE will provide a membership and support network, a platform for carrying out research, teaching and certification, and a forum for communicating successful projects that rapidly reduce fossil fuel use and manage restricted production of these valuable resources over the long term. GATE is a UK registered charity (number 1166048).

Contact details for further information

Professor Susan Krumdieck
Professor in mechanical engineering, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Director, Advanced Energy and Material Systems Lab
Co-founder, Global Association for Transition Engineering


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