Sustainable Infrastructure

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To date, infrastructure networks (power grids, potable and waste water infrastructures, transportation networks, etc.) have been independently designed and managed to supply resources or capacity that satisfies its user desired peak demand in a sustainable, resilient, and robust manner. This approach results in large infrastructure investment as well as excess capacity during non-peak times. The new paradigm being developed by this team is to design and manage integrated infrastructures (specifically water/power/transportation) in which demands are managed to optimize the system’s operation. The optimization process requires the development of multi-paradigm objective functions that incorporate socio-economic and socio-cultural factors in addition to the more usual technological objective functions. These latter include design objectives of sustainability (e.g. energy usage), resilience and robustness as well as operation objectives such as time, energy flow or any other energy-time-based metrics. Socio-economic objective functions (e.g. cost of energy or cost of energy services) and socio-cultural objectives (e.g. leisure time/labor time) are dependent on the composition, homogeneity and distribution of the social fabric. This bottom-up approach requires linkage with human and social infrastructure that places demands on these systems as well as limits on their designs. In particular, managing demands necessitates a clear understanding of the impact of incentives/penalties (economic but also social) in modifying users’ behavior to alter the timing and the magnitude of the demands they place on the systems. The effect of individuals altering demand patterns can subsequently propagate from local to regional and national scales to optimize the systems' multiparadigm objective function. Therefore, the socio-economic-cultural components of the objective functions have attributes of multiscale functions. For instance, public policies are one way to aggregate the disparate socio-economic and cultural objectives of individuals, but incentives/penalties may offer control at the scale of the individual or small groups of individuals. We envision a sustainable world in which one considers managing multiple, mutually supporting systems that integrate lifeline engineering infrastructures within the human, social and institutional infrastructure to service human needs. Our challenge is to integrate the multi-level, multi-scale process of system design, operations, and user experience for independently-designed infrastructures. Meeting this challenge for energy, water, transportation, and social infrastructures involves planning for compliance with normal and peak demand service requirements while operating infrastructure networks that can adapt in quasi-real time to unexpected internal or external disturbances to restabilize the system or minimize harm and recovery cost and time.  

Core Team Members:
Robert Fleischman (CEEM)
Yi-Chang Chiu (CEEM)
George Frantziskonis (CEEM)
Kevin Lansey (CEEM)
Young-Jun Son (SIE)

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