Discussion: View Thread

  • 1.  ASCE News - 4 priorities for applying sustainability

    Posted 08-13-2018 02:06 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-13-2018 02:06 PM
    I am constantly amazed ASCE still has to bring this issue up using buzz words. Apparently U.S. News & Wold Report's university rankings are horrendous and engineers have been going to the wrong schools for the past 40 years. I was taught "sustainability" principles as a part of the overall curriculum at Iowa State University nearly 40 years ago. No overused buzz words (green, sustainability, etc.) were used nor was it a special, separate class.  It was taught as common sense application for engineering solutions to every day design issues. The fact that I was stymied from applying them by local regulatory agencies for the past 40 years and that some agencies still restrict application in the name of "maintenance" remains the mystery.  For very little design fee, the principles can be applied and used. Calling them out as a special design feature or practice approach is embarrassing to our profession!

    Bradley Novacek P.E., M.ASCE
    Phoenix AZ

  • 2.  RE: ASCE News - 4 priorities for applying sustainability

    Posted 08-13-2018 05:23 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-13-2018 05:22 PM

    Greetings Bradley Novacek,

    Many thanks for your post, I am assuming you are referring to the Sustainability Road Map ASCE's Board recently adopted and Goal 2 – "All Infrastructure is Safe, Resilient, and Sustainable".  These items were discussed in two recent ASCE News Articles -  https://news.asce.org/strategy-roadmap-for-millennial-members-gets-board-attention/ and https://news.asce.org/3-ways-sustainability-is-good-for-business/


    There are four elements of the Sustainability Road Map – Reinvent Processes, so engineers are involved early on, and upfront in all projects, Develop a Sustainable Infrastructure Standard following ANSI requirements, Build Engineering Capacity, so engineers understand the principles and can apply them in their day to day work, and finally encourage our members to work with their clients and employers to incorporate the sustainability principles into procurement in public and private infrastructure.


    Integration of sustainability principles into professional practice is required to address changing environmental, social, and economic conditions ethically and responsibly.  Although challenging issues such as climate change, urbanization, and the rapid pace of technological advancement create opportunities, they also require serious re-evaluation of current professional practice and standards.


    I'm pleased to know that 40 years ago, these principles were shared.  What we recognize now, is that we must renew our commitment to applying the principles in all infrastructure we plan, design, build and operate, so that future generations continue to have the same benefits we have, and that we continue to improve the quality of life for peoples everywhere. 

    Michael Sanio ENV SP, CAE, F.ASCE
    Reston VA
    (703) 295-6116

  • 3.  RE: ASCE News - 4 priorities for applying sustainability

    Posted 08-17-2018 10:48 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-17-2018 10:47 AM
    It's interesting to me as an engineer reading this from the large commercial building structures world (I have no infrastructure experience at all). Our architectural colleagues have definitely taken sustainability (and the <g class="gr_ gr_163 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del" id="163" data-gr-id="163">buzz words</g> that go with it) to a higher level and have been able to charge a premium and/or additional service for this design. The current iteration of green building design (LEED and later) is about 20 years old. Our mechanical building system engineers have been able to dramatically increase their influence on the building design as a whole with the energy modeling requirements, especially for large institutional clients (and the good engineers can and should charge premium fees to do so). Running energy models, implementing and documenting the LEED or other green-building credits, and doing life-cycle analysis does take more time, decision-making, and discussion than "traditional" design. 

    I am curious to know if this sort of assessment has always been included and explictly discussed with the owner for infrastructure projects (roads, bridges, rail). That was certainly NOT the case in the building structures industry (with the exception of industrial clients) prior to the advent to LEED starting to be incorporated on large amounts of building projects circa 2002-ish.

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC
    State College PA


  • 4.  RE: ASCE News - 4 priorities for applying sustainability

    Posted 08-19-2018 02:38 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-19-2018 02:38 PM
    The prevalent plethora of existing poorly maintainable structures and roadways constructed in the past seven decades may be attributed to an inadvertent bifurcation of the engineering (and to some extent) the architectural professions into field practitioners who physically produce the structure and design professionals who are minimally exposed to down stream considerations, such as construction and constructability details and life cycle maintenance procedures, costs and related considerations. While this has recently been formalized by architects as LEEDS, it is actually a very old paradigm which predates both modern professions as expressed in the nursery fairy tale of the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf. The house of straw and the house of twigs didn't fare too well against the wolf, although they were probably cheaper and easier to build: while the bricks, although more expensive and labor intensive, stood up quite nicely to the wolf's huffing and puffing. Durability and life cycle maintenance considerations are largely a matter of applied common sense and the designer taking into consideration what the long term implications of his work product will have on the owner/user of what he produces.

    Irving Schlinger P.E., M.ASCE
    Consulting Engi
    Irving Schlinger P.E.
    Chester NY
    (845) 469-2866

  • 5.  RE: ASCE News - 4 priorities for applying sustainability

    Posted 08-20-2018 10:58 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-20-2018 10:58 AM
    ​I have to agree with the original sentiment. Sustainability is old and not special. Like organic gardening, it was the standard way of doing things for millennia. It is only after the industrial revolution when we started drifting away from it as the focus became more on capitalism in the form of early industrialists and "Progress." It developed even more steam during the 20th century with the focus being ever more on short term corporate profits.

    The recent trend towards sustainability is a step in the right direction, but the fact that it is separated from general practices causes problems. LEED and LID and all the other systems cropping up limit the sustainability of projects because they define what is or isn't sustainable. I've dealt with LEED projects as a reviewer for a large water and sewer authority and the developers fought tooth and nail not to spend the money to separate the storm laterals from the sanitary laterals because it didn't give them LEED credits of any kind. Other than LEED being a funding requirement or a selling point, developers don't care about sustainability. The people building things are usually not the end user. The attitude is still flipping the project for a short term gain is the primary goal.

    Ron Zagrocki P.E., M.ASCE
    Aliquippa PA