Sustainability in Civil Engineering


Research Paper (undergraduate), 2006

30 Pages, Grade: A


Excerpt

Table of contents

List of tables an illustrations

1. Introduction

2. Sustainability from a global view
2.1 A definition of sustainability
2.2 Models of sustainability
2.3 The eco-foodprint

3. Aims of Sustainability
3.1 Efficient use of resources
3.2 Sustainable mobility
3.3 Sustainable purchasing
3.4 Social sustainability
3.5 Efficient use of energy

4. Sustainability in Civil enineering
4.1 Passive house
4.2 “The house of sustainability”

5. Personal comment

References

List of tables an illustrations

Fig.1: The world in our hands (City of Portsmouth, 2006).

Fig.2: Sustainable development arises from the interactions between social, ecological and economical systems. (Arrowhead springs resort, 2006).

Fig.3: A healthy environment is a necessary qualification for a sound community and economy (Westvancouver, 2002).

Fig.4: UK´s growing eco-footprint (Kinver, m., 2006)

Fig.5: Areas of the Planet, according to Latsch, 2006

Fig.6: Areas of the planet to compare eco-footprints, according to Latsch, 2006

Fig.7: Rate of eco-footprint and population in different, (Latsch, 2006)

Fig.8: green house effect, (Department of Natural Resources, 2006)

Fig.9: Depleting freshwater resources, (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH, 2006)

Fig.10: Source of waste and solid waste composition, according to Terry, 1997 & Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 1997

Fig.11: waste hierarchy, (waste online, 2006)

Fig.12: Transport-related CO2 emission by region, (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004)

Fig.13: Transport-related CO2 emission by mode, (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004)

Fig.14: Personal transport activity by region, (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004)

Fig.15: Personal transport activity by mode, (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004)

Fig.16: Fair Trade Certified Seal, (eco-labels, 2006)

Fig.17: Energy use 1991 vs 2050, (National Fusion Energy Science, 2001)

Fig.18: Residental energy use, (Wright-Hennepin, 2006)

Fig.19: World total primary energy supply by fuel 2004, according to International Energy Agency (2006)

Fig.20: World map: OECD members 2005, (Wikipedia, 2006c)

Fig.21: World total primary energy supply by region2004, according to International Energy Agency (2006)

Fig.22: Water station, (Renewable Energy Sources & Hydro Power Engineering Department, 2006)

Fig.23: Geothermal power plant, (Havilah Resources NL, 2006)

Fig.24: Solar panels on a roof, (Rowe, 2002)

Fig.25: Solar water heating, (Solar energy association of Oregon, 2003)

Fig.26: Natureplus logo, (Natureplus, 2006)

Fig.27: Thermogram of a Passive house building, with traditional building in background, (Wikipedia, 2006e)

Fig.18: Elevation of a Passive house, (Wikipedia, 2006e)

Fig.29: “The house of sustainabiliy”, (Haus der Nachhaltigkeit, 2006)

1. Introduction

The term sustainability is deemed to be a model for sustainable development for the humanity (Lexikon der Nachhaltigkeit 2006a). Especially the Agenda 21 is setting on sustainability for solutions of environmental problems in present and future cases. To counteract an advancing degradation of the situation of people on the globe the Agenda 21 was created at a worldwide environmental conference in Rio de Janero, Brazil in 1992. Many years of intensive spadework had to be done befor all the different countries agreed on it. But does everyone in the world has the same ideas of sustainability and what is sustainable development all about? This work will show the different aspects of sustainability especially for civil engineering as it is demonstrated in the literatur but also a personal view on the theme.

After a definition of sustainability the models of sustainable development are demonstrated to have a base of knowledge. You will see that sustainability is measurable and that there are aims to be aspired for a single human beeing as well as the hole population of our planet.

Sustainability in civil engineering includes many differnt aspects like energy systems and technologies, building service engineering or management of resources. A precise assessment of existing or new buildings must be done and this work will give some examples of executed buildings and developed techniques.

2. Sustainability from a global view

2.1 A definition of sustainability

The brundtland report is giving the best known definition of sustainability. It was written in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development founded by the United Nations. The report was named “Our common future” and was a decisive reason for the worldwide environmental conference in Rio de Janero.

(Lexikon der Nachhaltigkeit 2006b)

The brundtland commossion defined the concept of sustainable development in two ways:

1. "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
2. “A sustainable development is a process of changings in which the application of recources, the structure of investigations, the orientation of technical progress and the institutional structures are getting consistent with the needs of the present and the future.” (Wikipedia 2006a)

These definitions are about intergenerational Equity. ‘It doesn´t matter what happens when we´ve gone’ is not the right way to live today. The definition says that we have to think about the generations in the future and start to prepare or save their quality of life.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.1: The world in our hands (City of Portsmouth, 2006).

Another definition is quite similar to the definition from the brundtland report, but it includes a very important aspect: the Earth an its ecosystem.

"Sustainable development of the Earth is a development that meets the basic needs of all human beings and which conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and without going over the limits of long term capacity of the earth `s ecosystem" (Stappen 2006, p.27 ff).

Intragenerational Equity is a main point of this definition. Not merely our own generations have to get a good quality of life in the future but also the people who are not living in an industrial nation need to have the same options. The ecosystem is used by everyone on this planet, but especially the industrial nation overuse it for a long time.

In the past there was the first experience from the forestry. Environmental damage was raised by clearing to much woodland. This is still a problem now in some non developed nations. That problem was the entrie to the first principle of sustainability. You can not clear more woodland as new trees are able to grow again. Sustainability is about planting new trees in order that further generations can use the wood as well.

Meanwhile the importance of the idea of sustainability has expanded. You have to consider environmental aspects equal against social and economical aspects to face the global provocations in the future. There is no generell recept for sustainable development. Some creative ideas of many people in particular civil enineers are in demand. Development which serves sustainability is usefull but not easy to put into practice. That is why there are headed dicussions about the way to bring it to fuition.

2.2 Models of sustainability

The three-dimensional model proceeds on the assumption that sustainability can be achieved by realization of environmental, social an economic aims. Thereby the three dimension can be weighted differently (Federal Office for spatial development, 2005). There has to be a social community and a efficient economy working together and linked to the environment to create sustainable development in a three dimensional perspective. The three dimensions should be equal and homogeneous to each other to achieve their common aim which is securing and approvement of economic, ecologic and social effectiveness.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.2: Sustainable development arises from the interactions between social, ecological and economical systems. (Arrowhead springs resort, 2006).

You can differentiate between „weak“ an „strong” sustainability whitin the three-dimensional model (Wikipedia, die freie enzyklopädie, 2006b). So weak sustainability is when you assume that it dosn´t matter in which dimension capital is conserved or created. In this case it would be acceptable if natural resources run out when it is confronted with an adequate amount of human capital or real capital.

Strong sustainability means that natural capital is not or just very limited replaceable to human or real capital. It is comparable to a crash barrier model. The ecological parameters represent a kind of progress corridor which limits have to be observed to ensure stable conditions of life. Within this corridor there is a scope for the realization of economic and social aims.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.3: A healthy environment is a necessary qualification for a sound community and economy (Westvancouver, 2002).

This three sphere strong sustainability model is different from the first one. It shows that the dimensions economy, community and environment are not just independently of each other and have to be joint together the create Sustainability. They are rather working together hand in hand from immemorial. They are part of each other. Economy is a substance of the Community and they would not exist if there would be no environment around them. They are innately connected and have to act together to keep their common system intact.

2.3 The eco-foodprint

The ecological footprint calculates the consumption of natural resources of every human beeing (Redefining Progress, 2006) . It is declared in global hectars (gha) and this includes not just the living space, the streets an the cultivation areas, but also the forests, the fish and the fossil oil for the perolium or cerosin are calculated. Expressed like a formula the eco footprint is all the resources produced in a country plus the import minus the export. So it is a measure to see if countries or people live sustainable or not.

It is possible to calculate the eco-footprint of every nation in the world. These days the world consumes a fifths more than the environment can make available. But this consume is unequally distributed because of the split between industrial nations and the so called third world nations. “The United States of America have the biggest ,foot’ “(Petri, F., 2006) that means that the USA have the biggest consumoption of relevant resources. They consume 9 hectars per person in relation to 4,6 ha for a person in the EU. Countries in asia or afica are well below this values. These countries are missing the capacities which the industrial nation are wasting. This entails the deforestation of the rain forests, the over-fishing of the oceans and boosts the greenhouse effect. The fact that the population on earth will still continute to rise is an amplifying problem. It is prophesied that there will be 10 billions of people on this planet by the year 2050. It is hard to believe that the earth will absorb this.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.4: UK´s growing eco-footprint (Kinver, m., 2006)

This figure shows that the Earth could have sponsored everyone with a UK lifestyle in 1961, but today things changed. Now it would take about 3,1 planets to support this same kind of lifestyle.

The following figures are all from Latsch, 2006 and they refer to the different areas of the planet and their posibilities to meet the demands of the world population. Figure 5 is giving a rough fragmentation of the areas and that makes clear that the agricultural land is quite limited.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.5: Areas of the Planet, according to Latsch, 2006

Latsch (2006) states that a german person needs averaged 4,7 ha per year but there is just a capaticity of 1,85 ha per person per year. That is 8,3 billion ha agricultural land used by the world population of about 6,3 billion people in addition to 0,55 billion ha of sea area per person per year. So the german eco-footprint is about 2,5 times bigger than the planet could manage. The interesting thing on this example is that you can see the different ways of using the areas of the world in figure 6. The main part in european countries is about spending energy from fossil energy recources. Thas why the scope on renewable energies is quite a dominat topic in this work.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.6: Areas of the planet to compare eco-footprints, according to Latsch, 2006

Germany as a ‘high-income-counrty’ is a good example for an average european eco-footprint and it could be opposed to an eco-footprint of ‘low-income-countries’. They just need 0,83 ha per person per year although the number of affected citizen is often much higher than in european countries. The energy area fragment shrinked and the farmland and the forest are more important in this case.

These problems are summarized in figure 7. You can see especially the difference between industrial nations and non industrial nations relating to their population. 80% of the world population are living with a sustainable eco-footprint and the remaining 20% are enough to get a average world-eco-footprint of about 2,3 ha per person per year in relation to 1,85 ha which every citizen of this planet could have at most (Latsch, 2006).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Fig.7: Rate of eco-footprint and population in different, (Latsch, 2006)

3. Aims of Sustainability

3.1 Efficient use of resources

The forests are a natural resource that is important for the extraction of the wood which is used in many spheres. It is a renewable raw material with its own ecosystem which is very relevant for the climate of the world because of the photosynthesis. That means plants can transform carbon dioxid (CO2) into oxygen. This attribute makes the forests so significant, because CO2 mainly influences the green house effect and every living creature one this planet needs fresh air. But the forests also represent a valuable environment for many kinds of animals and plants. They are areas of recreation for people as well so the wastage of this resource would demonstrate a hugh damage to the world (Holzabsatzfonds, 2006).

[...]

Excerpt out of 30 pages

Details

Title
Sustainability in Civil Engineering
College
Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh  (School of Build Environment)
Course
Sustainablilty in Civil Engineering
Grade
A
Author
Year
2006
Pages
30
Catalog Number
V77054
ISBN (eBook)
9783638804226
File size
1452 KB
Language
English
Tags
Civil, Engineering, Sustainablilty, Bauwesen, Nachhaltigkeit
Quote paper
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Jan Seidel (Author), 2006, Sustainability in Civil Engineering, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/77054

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