Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Edwin KL Tam

Second Advisor

Nihar Biswas

Keywords

Climate Change, Civil engineering, Water Resource Management, Sustainability, Environmental engineering

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

This research presents a three-pronged framework focusing on the functionality-survivability-sustainability (FSS) aspects for sustainability assessment using stormwater infrastructure as its example, and presents a case study to illustrate how the framework can be used. Existing sustainability assessment tools focus mainly on the functional aspects of environmental, social and economic performance separately with emphasis on reducing resource use, and do not capture the changing demands and issues comprehensively. Infrastructure sustainability is defined as the ability of the system to function well and be able to survive complex and emerging stressors without increasing resource consumption, impacting people's health and well-being, and be able to manage for changing circumstances. A process based approach to infrastructure sustainability from resource, people, and change perspective (PRPC) was conceptualized. An infrastructure decision making survey was conducted among people involved in management of water. The twenty-five questions in Group A focused on how sustainability is visualized and uncertainties are factored, and how performance of the system is evaluated. Thirteen questions in Group B focused on issues concerning data and information management. The findings of the survey informed the framework development. A set of 34 indicators were developed for the three domains (FSS), based on the following criteria: resource minimization (R), public health (P) and change management (C). A detailed decision process was developed for evaluating non-quantifiable indicators. A multi-criterion method based on weights derived from experts, and related literature was developed to perform the final assessment, and a template was proposed to present the outcome. The case study revealed that despite highest weight assigned on R in both the weighting schemes, the performance of R was insignificant compared to P and C for functionality and survivability. This indicated that there may be some complex interactions going among different indicators. The zero score for R in sustainability indicated that not having enough information on certain aspect of infrastructure may lead the system towards unsustainability in the long term, even though it may be functional presently and may survive some stressors. Applying the framework in additional infrastructure systems is recommended to test the robustness and wider application of the framework.

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