Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, "Tunneling Through the Cost Barrier", in Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999)
The Transition Network, "Transition Primer: A guide to Becoming a Transition Town" (2011)
Edmond Byrne, "Teaching engineering ethics with sustainability as context", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 13(3):232-248 (2012)
Derk Loorbach, Niki Frantzeskaki and Flor Avelino "Sustainability transitions research: transforming science and practice for societal change", Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 42:599-626 (2017); summarized here
Paul and Percival Goodman, "Banning Cars from Manhattan", Dissent (1961)
Ralph Buehler and John Pucher, "Making public transport financially sustainable", Transport Policy 18:126-138(2011)
Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl, "Transportation in the Post-Carbon World", in The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises (2010)
Kris De Decker, "Recycling animal and human dung is the key to sustainable farming", Low-Tech Magazine (2010)
Lauren Valle, "Ecological design", Vermont Journal of Environmental Law 16(4):575-585 (2015)
Lisa Ianucci, "Don't trash this: recycling and garbage rules", The Cooperator (2015)
US EPA, "Zero Waste Case Study: Seattle"
Amory Lovins, "The super-efficient passive building frontier", ASHRAE Journal, 37(6):79-81 (1995)
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Colin MacDougall, "Natural building materials in mainstream construction: Lessons from the U. K.", Journal of Green Building, 3(3), 3-14 (2008)
John H. Scofield, "Do LEED-certified buildings save energy? Not really...", Energy and Buildings, 41:1386-1390 (2009)
Martin Holladay, "Passivhaus for beginners: The history of a superinsulation standard" (2010)
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David R. Montgomery, Soil erosion and agricultural sustainability, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104:13268-13272 (2007)
Dana Cordell, Jan-Olof Drangert, and Stuart White, The story of phosphorus: Global food security and food for thought, Global Environmental Change, 19:292-305 (2009)
Scott Stringer, Putting Food Policy On The City's Front Burner (2009)
Lester R. Brown, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2009), Chapter 2, "Population Pressure: Land and Water"
David Molden, Charlotte De Fraiture, and Frank Rijsberman, "Water Scarcity: The Food Factor", Issues in Science and Technology (2007)
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John Ehrenfeld and Nicholas Gertler, "Industrial ecology in practice: The evolution of interdependence at Kalundborg", Journal of Industrial Ecology 1(1):67-79 (1997)
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or Sashi Sivramkrishna, "Production Cycles and Decline in Traditional Iron Smelting in the Maidan, Southern India, c. 1750-1950: An Environmental History Perspective" (2009) Environment and History 15(2): 163-197
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(1) Choose an engineering project that you believe would further a sustainable society. About how much funding will it need, and how would you propose financing it? You may consider both traditional and alternative/new infrastructure funding approaches. You can look here on government cost-sharing and here on the MTA's fiscal planning, as well as the ideas in Natural Capitalism.
(2) Choose a current or hypothetical infrastructure problem or design. How could the engineers involved best promote sustainability? You can consider the possible roles of conceptual tools such as reframing, visioning, and experimenting (Loorbach and the Transition Handbook) and of ethical stance and professional obligations (Byrne).
(1) Give and concisely justify three recommendations for the transportation section of New York City's long-term plan. You can look here for some advantages and challenges of car-free cities.
(2) What are some transportation needs of this region, and possible sustainability-mindful solutions? See here, here, and here for background. Cf. also the sections about transport in MacKay's book.
(1) Consider a building or infrastructure project of your choice. What are its impacts on the production and distribution of food in its foodshed? You can consider impact categories such as loss of agricultural land, soil erosion and water supply, access to affordable food, and climate change. Can you think of a feasible way to make these impacts more positive?
(2) Is organic agriculture, as currently defined and practiced, sustainable? Why or why not?
(1) How much water is used to produce the food you eat? You can base your estimate on the Water Footprint Network's calculator. Comment on the sustainability of this level of water use.
(2) Estimate the magnitude of water uses in a building of your choice. (Check utility bills, if possible.) How does it compare with the rainfall rate on the building? List any obvious design improvements related to the water flow in and through the building.
(1) New York City currently uses 6.1 GW electricity (sources: 50% natural gas, 30% nuclear, 10% hydroelectric, 10% coal); 5.1 GW gasoline and diesel fuel for cars, trucks, and buses; and 13 GW natural gas and fuel oil for heat and hot water (adapted from here). How would you propose NYC obtain energy without using fossil fuels? What are approximate requirements in area and investment capital if your proposal is followed? (You might want to include a small spreadsheet for keeping track of the numbers.)
(2) Choose a building or other piece of infrastructure of interest to you. What are its power requirements (quantity and type of energy) for operation and maintenance? Suggest ways in which it could be retrofitted for these energy requirements to be reduced or more eaily provided renewably.
(1) Use tools such as the Inventory of Carbon & Energy from the University of Bath here or the NIST BEES software, which have estimates of the energy requirements and CO2 emissions associated with using different materials, to roughly assess the greenhouse gas emissions associated with constructing a building or piece of infrastructure of your choice. What are some ways for the environmental impacts associated with this construction to be reduced?
(2) What makes industrial ecology "ecological"? Describe or analyze examples for how your field or area of interest can adopt industrial ecology principles. If possible, give some quantitative estimates of the potential reduction in resource extraction or pollution.
(1) List five steps that, in your view, have the potential to significantly help in mitigating and/or adapting to global warming (and/or other major disruptions to Earth's climate and biosphere), and briefly explain why each is a good idea. Also, discuss one or more ideas that have been proposed as solutions that, in your view, are ineffective or harmful.
(2) Pose and solve one or more numerical thermodynamics/exergy problems of interest to you, based on (some of) the following sources. Summarize in words what you learned from working through the problem(s).
(1) Referring to the Penn State or Sivramkrishna articles, why didn't societies without fossil fuels, such as 18th-Century Pennsylvania or India, build steel-framed structures? What resource utilization practices were facilitated by low population density (e.g. ~4 people per km2 in 18th-Century Pennsylvania)? If the population density were comparable to today's (e.g. 100 people per km2 in Pennsylvania), what would have been the alternatives?
(2) The Speth article questions the value of economic growth. What are the arguments that economic growth can be destructive? How would you expect engineering practice to be different in a world that did not see economic growth as the main goal of society? See also Chapter 17 of Allwood and Cullen.
(3) Summarize the concept of energy quality and how it relates to building and infrastructure design. Use as sources relevant sections of Wall's book, as well as the Annex 49 project website on "Low Exergy Systems for High-Performance Buildings and Communities" – this document (esp. the case studies in pages 49-68) might be particularly helpful.
(4) New York City's utility worries about being able to meet peak electricity demand, which is on hot summer afternoons. Suppose that you're doing a feasibility study of several different methods of reducing peak demand. For each method, estimate the order of magnitude of the (a) cost and (b) space required for this method to be able to reduce city peak demand by 10%. The methods are: (i) battery storage (see here and here); (ii) Rooftop solar photovoltaic generation (reference, another); (iii) Demand reduction enabled by smart meters (reference; another). See also the study summarized here and Con Ed's plan. What do you see as the biggest uncertainties in your rough calculations?
Class 1: Introduction
Class 2: Thermodynamics
Class 3: Ecology and Climate
Class 4: Assessment
Class 5: Energy
Class 6: Water
Class 7: Food
Class 8: Building
Class 9: Waste
Class 10: Transport
Class 11: Implementation