Manual Sustainability in engineering design and construction

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The goal of an engineering project can be to create a system, a device, a process, or any other outcome that would provide a certain service or benefit to society. One of the important outcomes of an engineering project is the creation of technology. Role of technology can be actually viewed as the interface that provides connection of an idea realized through design and engineering effort with practical and consumable outcomes, such as products or services.

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The latter would affect and shape societal lifestyle over time. The principles of sustainability guide the sustainable design , the process of thinking. This stage determines how things are supposed to be made and how they will function over their whole lifecycle. Further down the funnel, the sustainable engineering stage deals with technical implementation of ideas. Sometimes it is not an easy process, and some aspects of design may be changed or compromised. When eventually the design and engineering routes practically converge, we may have a technology created.

Technology provides processes and products. Only then the benefits of new ideas and new engineering developments become available to society. Because of people's strong dependence on multiple technologies , those become the factors that can facilitate change in society and can even become tools of manipulation and initiation of global trends. This way of thinking emphasizes the importance of technologies in the whole hierarchy of causes and factors that regulate the sustainable development.

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This additional reading on this section provides you with some examples of sustainable engineering projects. These demonstrate the wide application of sustainable engineering thinking in such spheres as water management, chemical industry, and electronics. Gagnon, B. Skip to main content. Here are some of the aspects that differentiate the traditional and sustainable approaches in engineering: Traditional Engineering Sustainable Engineering Sustainability Approaches in Engineering Considers the object or process Considers the whole system in which the object or process will be used Focuses on technical issues Considers both technical and non-technical issues synergistically Solves the immediate problem Strives to solve the problem for infinite future forever?

Considers the local context Considers the global context Assumes others will deal with political, ethical, and societal issues Acknowledges the need to interact the experts in other disciplines related to the problem The diagram in Figure 1. Classification of sustainable engineering principles versus environmental, social, and economic criteria. Click on image to see a full version.

The Five Principles of Sustainability - Design and Sustainability (3/7)

Click for text description. This will expand to provide more information. From left to right, the four principles shown are as follows: Offer individuals and communities the opportunity to increase their capabilities. Know your "needs" and "wants. Allocate in a fair manner benefits and costs related to economic activity and public policies. Maintain a positive genuine long term investment considering all types of capital.

From bottom to top, the four principles shown are as follows: Ensure that all material and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently safe and benign as possible.

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Look beyond your own locality and the immediate future. Preserve access to exosystems services essential to health and wellbeing.

Preserve biodiversity and respect all life forms regardless of how useful they are to humankind. From top to bottom, the four principles shown are as follows: Stay within ecosystem's carrying capacity in terms of resource development and waste assimilation. Develop closed cycles of operation and consumption to minimize waste. Offset the use of non-renewable resources by investments in renewable substitutes.

Stimulate innovation to facilitate the adaption of more efficient and greener technologies. The principles shown at the center of the triangle are as follows: Engineering processes holistically, use system analysis, and integrate invironmental impact assessment tools. Seek stakeholder involvement while respecting local subsidiarity and cultures. Internalize all costs within the value of goods and services polluters must pay.

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Reading assignment Venables, R. Current state of the Jubilee River landscape. Self-check questions: 1. What was the key to making the Jubilee River channel stable under high flow conditions? Some impacts may not occur until centuries in the future.

Sustainable Design & Construction Program | Civil and Environmental Engineering

For example, the extent to which we decide to use nuclear power to generate electricity is a sustainable design decision. The radioactive wastes may have half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years. That is, it will take all these years for half of the radioactive isotopes to decay. Radioactive decay is the spontaneous transformation of one element into another. This occurs by irreversibly changing the number of protons in the nucleus. Thus, sustainable designs of such enterprises must consider highly uncertain futures. For example, even if we properly place warning signs about these hazardous wastes, we do not know if the English language will be understood.

All four goals of green engineering mentioned above are supported by a long-term, life cycle point of view. A life cycle analysis is a holistic approach to consider the entirety of a product, process or activity, encompassing raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, use, maintenance, recycling, and final disposal. In other words, assessing its life cycle should yield a complete picture of the product.


The first step in a life cycle assessment is to gather data on the flow of a material through an identifiable society. Thus, in sustainable design, engineers must optimize for variables that give the best performance in temporal frames.

1.4 Principles of Sustainable Engineering

In , the average annual electricity consumption for a U. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15, kWh, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6, kWh. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Renewable energy portal Ecology portal Environment portal.

Huesemann Vallero and C. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Retrieved Categories : Engineering disciplines Sustainable technologies Environmental engineering. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.