Course Overview

Understanding how built environment infrastructure systems interact with ecosystem services is a critical foundational element for future engineers who will drive policies and decisions affecting urban sustainability. Sustainable cities can be defined through development that uses materials and energy within the biosphere's capacity for regeneration and waste assimilation. Most contemporary cities operate outside of these criteria. Resources (including food, energy, water, and goods) are shipped in from global logistical networks that shift burdens away from those who use the resources. And dispensing of wastes becomes ever more challenging as siting new landfills is often prohibitive and our concern for air quality and the climate grows. While our understanding of sustainable transition strategies improves, policy and decision makers continue to support existing practices that sustainable engineers and scientists know cannot continue indefinitely. Historically, engineers have developed infrastructure systems when many sustainability constraints did not exist. This course will provide students with 1) an understanding of the engineering, social, political, community, and economic constraints that affect urban sustainability infrastructure, 2) an enriched educational experience that connects academic principles and theories with practical knowledge, and 3) a vision and desire for developing solutions that transcend the current constraints that engineers face when deploying sustainable infrastructure solutions. The course will focus on Phoenix infrastructure policy and decision making, a city that has expended tremendous resources on growth and water, been largely driven by cheap energy, and with significant access to renewable resources (i.e., solar) and knowledge. By connecting students with regional infrastructure issues, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to understand how fundamental engineering concepts are ultimately applied in sustainable infrastructure decisions, graduate students will be able to test and improve infrastructure sustainability transitional theories and gain insight into governmental processes and jobs that they may ultimately be part of.


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August 23

Lecture: Course Overview

August 28

Lecture: Project Overview
Pre-lecture Readings and Video
General Reading:
Grimm et al. 2008, Global Change and the Ecology of Cities, Science
Water readings and video:
Ascher, Anatomy of a City, Water
ASCE 2011, 'Failure to Act' on water systems to have dire consequences, Video (2min)
RFF 2009, Adapting to Climate Change (water sections on pages 13, 24, & 31)
Assignment Due: Review syllabus/topics and let me know if you have recommendations.

August 30

Lecture: Defining Infrastructure Systemsbr> Pre-lecture Readings
General reading:
Scientific American 2012, Street-Savvy
Scientific American 2012, Bigger Cities Do More With Less
Electricity readings:
Ascher, Anatomy of a City, Electricity
Scientific American 2006, A Power Grid for the Hydrogen Economy
In-class Activity: Project team selection

September 4

Lecture: Emergence of Modern Infrastructure
Project Discussion
Pre-lecture Readings
General reading:
Sweeney 2002, Deregulation works - but not the way it was done in California
Wastewater and Solid Waste:
Ascher, Anatomy of a City, Wastewater and Solid Waste
Chester and Martin 2009, Cellulosic Ethanol from Municipal Solid Waste, ES&T 43(14)
Assignment Due
Homework 3

September 6

Lecture: Infrastructure Sustainability Decision Making
Pre-lecture Readings
Passenger Transportation:
Didion 1979, Bureaucrats, The White Album
Ascher, Anatomy of a City, Passenger Transportation
Millard-Ball and Schipper 2010, Are We Reaching Peak Travel? Transport Reviews

September 11

Lecture: Sustainability Indicators
Pre-lecture Reading
General reading:
Kunstler 2005 in Rolling Stone Magazine, The Long Emergency

September 13

Lecture: Land Use
Pre-lecture Readings
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Intro & Chapter 1
Lamer 2010, Why Government Policies Encourage Sprawl
Assignment Due: Project Deliverable 1

September 18

Project Discussion (Mindy to lead)
Pre-lecture Readings
Anderegg et al. 2010, Expert Credibility in Climate Change, PNAS 107(27)
Fox News: Skeptic Finds He Now Agrees Global Warming is Real

September 20

Lecture: Urban Metabolism
Pre-lecture Readings
Kennedy et al. 2008, The Changing Metabolism of Cities, JIE 11(2)
Warren-Rhodes and Koenig 2001, Escalating Trends in the UM of Hong Kong, Ambio 30(7)

September 25

Should attend the Sustainable Cities discussion from 6p to 7:30p at the Mesa Arts Center.

September 27

Project Discussion with Valley Metro
Pre-discussion Readings
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Chapters 2, 3, and 4
Chester et al. 2012, Avoiding unintended tradeoffs by integrating LCIA with UM, COES 4
Assignment Due
Homework 2

October 2

Lecture: Intervention Points and Transitional Strategies
Pre-lecture Readings
Kimball et al. 2013, TOD Infill in Phoenix Can Reduce Future Transportation and Land Use Environmental Impacts, JPER

October 4

Project Discussion
Pre-discussion Readings
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Chapters 5 and 6

October 9

Lecture: Life Cycle Assessment
Assignment Due: Project Deliverable 2

October 11

Project Discussion
Pre-discussion Readings
Weidema et al., 2004, The Product, Functional Unit and Reference Flows in LCA, Danish EPA
Schweimer, 2007, Life Cycle Inventory for the Golf A4

October 18

Lecture: Combustion, Air Pollutant Transport and Chemistry

October 23

Project Discussion
Pre-discussion Readings
Brueckner 2000, Urban Sprawl, Intl Reg. Sc. Rev. 23(160)

October 25

Lecture: Infrastructure Costs and Sustainability: Internal and External, Public and Private, Life Cycle Costing
Pre-lecture Readings
Litman 2012, Understanding Smart Growth Savings, VTPI

October 30

Project Discussion
Assignment Due: Project Deliverable 3

November 1

Lecture: Microscale Assessment: sociodemographic analysis for social equity assessment
Pre-lecture Readings
NPR: Energy Independence For U.S.? Try Energy Security
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Chapter 7

November 6

Lecture: Optimization for Sustainability
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Chapter 8

November 8

Project Discussion
Duany 2010, Suburban Nation, Chapter 9

November 13

Lecture Behavior, Utility Theory, and how infrastructure design affects choice
Pre-lecture Readings
North 1968, A Tutorial Introduction to Decision Theory, IEEE Transactions 4(3)

November 15

Project Discussion (Mindy to lead)

November 20

Lecture: Risk and Uncertainty
Assignment Due: Project Deliverable 4

November 27

Project Discussion
Assignment Due
Homework 3

November 28

Assignment Due
5-8 draft presentation slides

November 29

Project Discussion and Presentation Review (Mindy to Lead)

December 4

Presentation to the Environmental Engineering Seminar

December 6

In-class Activity

December 11

Assignment Due: Project Deliverable 6