Environmental Science, Policy & Engineering Program

Spring 2020

Sustainable Infrastructure


Professor Dr. Ashraf Ghaly, P.E.
Department Engineering
Office Olin 102D
Tel., email 518-388-6515, ghalya@union.edu

Lectures: TTH 9:00AM-10:45AM, Olin 306. Click HERE for class presentation and course materials.


Infrastructure is the backbone of nations. It is a society's inventory of systems and facilities that allow it to function properly and smoothly. This includes, but is not limited to, roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, transit, waterways, ports, aviation, pipelines, transmission lines, rail, parks, and public buildings such as schools, courts, hospitals, and recreational and sport facilities. Infrastructure involves also services such as energy, water supply, wastewater treatment, power and gas distribution grids, waste collection, and sewer disposal. Major advances in technology resulted in digital infrastructure that includes communication networks, signal transmission towers, data centers, information repositories, servers/computers, and the Internet. This course explores the progress humanity achieved in developing infrastructure facilities and the present move towards sustainability. Methods, materials, processes, technologies, practices, and operations required to maintain a healthy environment and efficient infrastructure will be examined. The intersection between policies necessary for sustainable infrastructure and political, economical, social, societal, and cultural factors will be emphasized. Four class hours weekly. No prerequisite.


Term Test (6th week) = 35%

Class Participation = 15%

Term Paper & Presentation = 15%

Final Examination = 35%

90+ = A 85+ = A(-) 80+ = B(+) 75+ = B 70+ = B(-) 65+ = C(+) 60+ = C 55+ = C(-) 50+ = D



Hayes, Brian (2014). Infrastructure: A Guide to the Industrial Landscape. W.W. Norton & Co. (ISBN-10: 0393349837)



  • Infrastructure of the United States by numbers
  • The need for infrastructure
  • Infrastructure and society
  • Role of infrastructure in sustaining society
  • Role of society in sustaining infrastructure
  • Infrastructure investment and return on the money

Historical Perspective

  • Infrastructure in a historic context
  • Early examples of major infrastructure facilities
  • Infrastructure and civilization
  • Urbanization and population migration
  • Infrastructure design frame
  • Infrastructure policies and implementation

Impact of Infrastructure

  • On population
  • On the economy
  • On the environment
  • On human behavior
  • On modernization
  • On standard of living
  • On quality of life

Infrastructure Resources

  • Earth resources
  • Raw materials
  • Mining impact
  • Industrial processes
  • Industrial waste and environmental impact
  • The need for sustainability

Infrastructure and Energy

  • Energy needed to build infrastructure
  • Energy needed to maintain infrastructure
  • Energy needed to operate infrastructure
  • Interdependence issues
  • Energy-efficient infrastructure
  • Energy infrastructure

Infrastructure and Planet Earth

  • Local impact
  • Global impact
  • Environment-preserving infrastructure
  • Infrastructure-preserving environment
  • Infrastructure and carbon emission
  • Infrastructure and global climate
  • Infrastructure and natural disasters
  • Ripple effect
  • Ecological footprint, nature preservation, and biodiversity
  • Emergency relief and contingency plans

Infrastructure Policy

  • Infrastructure and politics
  • Infrastructure and the economy
  • Infrastructure and social behavior
  • Infrastructure and culture
  • Infrastructure and societal priorities
  • Infrastructure and social justice
  • Government, NGOs, and citizens
  • Infrastructure worth

Infrastructure Forms

  • Traditional infrastructure
  • Innovative infrastructure
  • Green infrastructure
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Eventuality of infrastructure change

Infrastructure Renewal and Sustenance

  • Remediation of environmentally damaged soils, water, and air
  • Self healing versus human intervention
  • Degradation, rehabilitation, and preservation
  • Quality, durability, resilience, and life cycle
  • Supply and demand
  • Management of infrastructure systems
  • Does it add up economically?

Scope of Sustainable Design

  • The new paradigm and the shift toward sustainability
  • Less energy consumption
  • Less material use
  • Emphasis on reuse and recycling
  • Focus on environmental and climatic impact
  • Smart and efficient infrastructure
  • Monitoring and sensor technology
  • Assessment of performance
  • Public awareness and education

Infrastructure New Realities

  • The digital age
  • Resource depletion
  • Waste and recycling
  • Explosive population growth and congestion
  • Aging population
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Unstable world
  • Scarce resources and potential conflicts
  • Unconventional threats
  • Security concerns
  • Ethical issues
  • The need for an unorthodox approach

Infrastructure and Technology

  • Infrastructure-serving technology
  • Technology-serving infrastructure
  • New materials
  • New methods and processes
  • New practices and operations
  • New ways and means
  • State of mind and perception
  • Think big. Think Earth Sphere.
  • Conserve. Conserve. Conserve.

Sustainable Infrastructure Term Paper


The term paper in this course is expected to be thought provoking in addressing an issue related to sustainable infrastructure. Define the issue, indicate its relevance, show why it matters, state its impact and dimensions, detail the solution, and help the reader appreciate the elegance of your arguments.

Paper Subject

1. Students in this course are to select a subject relevant to a sustainable infrastructure theme for their term paper.

2. Students can select their subject at anytime during the course but no later than the 6th week of the term. All papers must be on different subjects.

3. A subject cannot be selected by more than one student. A student that was the first in selecting a given subject would be the only one entitled to it. The earlier you select a subject, the wider the selection available to you.

4. You have the right to drop a subject you selected and select a different one as long as this is done no later than the 6th week of the term (provided that the new subject had not been previously taken by another student).

5. Once you settled on a subject, email the instructor a title for your paper and one sentence description of your intended subject. The instructor will post the title and the one sentence description of all papers (without the names of students) on the course's website as soon as he receives the emails. This will serve as reference of subjects already taken and have become unavailable.


1. Students may collect the materials (technical and non-technical) for their chosen project from one or more of the following sources: the Internet, publications, professional journals, magazines, textbooks, movies, documentaries, and all other credible sources including interviews with knowledgeable and experienced individuals.

2. Students are required to cite in their paper all the sources they used in their research. Internet sites are cited using the address (URL) of those sites. All other references are to be cited with the name of author, year, title of paper or book, page, and publisher.

3. Students are responsible for checking the accuracy of materials obtained from Internet sources. Many Internet sources are not peer-reviewed and may lack accuracy/credibility. Remember that in this day and age, any one can publish anything on the Internet. This does not qualify published materials to be worthy of an academic endeavor such as a term paper.


The final electronic paper is due by noon time of the Saturday that precedes the tenth week of the term. The paper should be a Word document, and not exceeding 10 pages of text (12-point, double-spaced, Times-type with one inch margin on all sides). In addition to the 10 pages of text, students may add pictures, tables, graphs, charts, figures, and any other supplementing materials as they see fit. The total length of the paper, however, may not exceed 20 pages.

Grading Criteria

Students taking this course will receive Science/Engineering/Technology (SET) credit. Classroom presentations and discussion will promote critical thinking to enable students to evaluate evidence, results, and claims related to the natural sciences or technology and their impact on broader human or societal issues. Classroom activities will also demonstrate logical reasoning through quantitative analysis (e.g., calculations, programming, graphical analysis). Furthermore, there will be illustration of scientific methodology and arguments will be constructed to create appreciation of engineering principles and issues.

In their written paper and in their 5 minutes class presentation that will take place in the tenth week of the term, students are expected to highlight and detail principles similar to those listed above. The grade in this term paper will be assigned based on the quality and organization of the paper, relevance of content to the subject under consideration, understanding, clarity of presentation, and demonstration of ability to address questions with comprehension.

SUGGESTED REFERENCES (possible sources for assigned reading)

Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities (Paperback)

by Mark A. Benedict (Author), Edward T. McMahon (Author)

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (March 18, 2006)

ISBN-10: 1559635584

ISBN-13: 978-1559635585

Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises (Paperback)

by Architecture for Humanity (Author), Kate Stohr (Editor), Cameron Sinclair (Editor)

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Metropolis Books; 1st edition (January 15, 2006)

ISBN-10: 1933045256

ISBN-13: 978-1933045252

Materials for Sustainable Sites: A Complete Guide to the Evaluation, Selection, and Use of Sustainable Construction Materials (Hardcover)

by Meg Calkins

Hardcover: 464 pages

Publisher: Wiley (October 6, 2008)

ISBN-10: 0470134550

ISBN-13: 978-0470134559

Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Systems: A Framework for Meeting 21st Century Imperatives (Paperback)

by Toward Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Systems: Framing the Challenges Workshop Committee (Author), National Research Council (Author)

Paperback: 82 pages

Publisher: National Academies Press (July 1, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0309137926

ISBN-13: 978-0309137928

The Works: Anatomy of a City (Hardcover)

by Kate Ascher

Hardcover: 240 pages

Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (November 3, 2005)

ISBN-10: 1594200718

ISBN-13: 978-1594200717

Case Studies in Sustainability Management and Strategy (Hardcover)

by Jost Hamschmidt (Author, Editor)

Hardcover: 360 pages

Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing (September 30, 2007)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1906093016

ISBN-13: 978-1906093013

Developing Value: The Business Case for Sustainability in Emerging Markets (Paperback)

by Roger Cowe

Paperback: 64 pages

Publisher: Sustainability; 1 edition (August 1, 2002)

ISBN-10: 0821351818

ISBN-13: 978-0821351819

Infrastructure for the Built Environment: Global Procurement Strategies (Paperback) 

by Rodney Howes (Author), Herbert Robinson (Author) Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann (December 13, 2005)

ISBN-10: 0750668709

ISBN-13: 978-0750668705

Professor Ghaly Homepage Union College Homepage