Environmental Science, Policy & Engineering Program (ESPE)

Fall 2022

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.


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.


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



Papers should be a Word document or PDF. There is no minimum or maximum page limit for papers. In addition to the text, students may wish to supplement their papers with proper photos, pictures, tables, graphs, charts, and figures. Supplementing materials must be referenced at least once in the text of the paper.

Grading Criteria

Students taking this course will receive Engineering/Technology/Society (ETS) credit. Classroom presentations and discussion will promote critical thinking to enable students to evaluate evidence, results, and claims related to the natural sciences/engineering/technology and their impact on broader human and societal issues.

In their written paper and in their oral presentation, 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 depth of thought, organization, and 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)

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

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

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

The Works: Anatomy of a City (Hardcover)

Case Studies in Sustainability Management and Strategy (Hardcover)

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

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

Professor Ghaly Homepage Union College Homepage