Civil engineering is the application of science and technology in the control and use of forces and materials of nature, for the progressive benefit of all the peoples on planet Earth. Construction is an essential human activity that rivals few in its consumption of resources and its potential to harm the Earth. Many decisions have environmental and ecological consequences, which may not immediately affect any of the primary actors in a project, but which still require wise ethical judgment. Codes of conduct established by the Council for the Built Environment regulate the behaviour of professionals. They do not inculcate a value system within which choices between rival goods or ills can be made. A code of ethics is therefore required to provide a framework within which decisions between alternative courses of action can be made.

SAICE members, who are professionally registered, are bound to abide by the codes of conduct, which regulate their registration and may be disciplined should they fail to do so. The SAICE code of ethics is, however, necessary to provide a framework where decisions between alternative courses of actions should be taken. Ethical judgment is needed to maintain the stability of our society without the undue imposition of formal regulations for every act.