Better methods are necessary to fully account for anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and the essential services provided by ecosystems that sustain human life. Current methods for assessing sustainability, such as life cycle assessment (LCA), typically focus on easily quantifiable indicators such as air emissions with no accounting for the essential ecosystem benefits that support human or industrial processes. For this reason, more comprehensive, transparent, and robust methods are necessary for holistic understanding of urban technosphere and ecosphere systems, including their interfaces. Incorporating ecosystem service indicators into LCA is an important step in spanning this knowledge gap.
For urban systems, many built environment processes have been investigated but need to be expanded with life cycle assessment for understanding ecosphere impacts. To pilot these new methods, a material inventory of the building infrastructure of Phoenix, Arizona can be coupled with LCA to gain perspective on the impacts assessment for built structures in Phoenix. This inventory will identify the origins of materials stocks, and the solid and air emissions waste associated with their raw material extraction, processing, and construction and identify key areas of future research necessary to fully account for ecosystem services in urban sustainability assessments. Based on this preliminary study, the ecosystem service impacts of metropolitan Phoenix stretch far beyond the county boundaries. A life cycle accounting of the Phoenix’s embedded building materials will inform policy and decision makers, assist with community education, and inform the urban sustainability community of consequences.
The combination of rapid urban growth and climate change places stringent constraints on multisector sustainability of cities. Green infrastructure provides a great potential for mitigating anthropogenic-induced urban environmental problems; nevertheless, studies at city and regional scales are inhibited by the deficiency in modelling the complex transport coupled water and energy inside urban canopies. This dissertation is devoted to incorporating hydrological processes and urban green infrastructure into an integrated atmosphere-urban modelling system, with the goal to improve the reliability and predictability of existing numerical tools. Based on the enhanced numerical tool, the effects of urban green infrastructure on environmental sustainability of cities are examined.
Findings indicate that the deployment of green roofs will cool the urban environment in daytime and warm it at night, via evapotranspiration and soil insulation. At the annual scale, green roofs are effective in decreasing building energy demands for both summer cooling and winter heating. For cities in arid and semiarid environments, an optimal trade-off between water and energy resources can be achieved via innovative design of smart urban irrigation schemes, enabled by meticulous analysis of the water-energy nexus. Using water-saving plants alleviates water shortage induced by population growth, but comes at the price of an exacerbated urban thermal environment. Realizing the potential water buffering capacity of urban green infrastructure is crucial for the long-term water sustainability and subsequently multisector sustainability of cities. Environmental performance of urban green infrastructure is determined by land-atmosphere interactions, geographic and meteorological conditions, and hence it is recommended that analysis should be conducted on a city-by-city basis before actual implementation of green infrastructure.
Imagine you live in a place without any storm water or wastewater systems!
Wastewater and storm water systems are two of the most crucial systems for urban infrastructure. Water resources have become more limited and expensive in arid and semi-arid regions. According to the fourth World Water Development Report, over 80% of global wastewater is released into the environment without adequate treatment. Wastewater collection and treatment systems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) covers about 49% of urban areas; about 25% of treated wastewater is used for landscape and crop irrigation (Ministry of Environment Water and Agriculture [MEWA], 2017). According to Guizani (2016), during each event of flooding, there are fatalities. In 2009, the most deadly flood occurred in Jeddah, KSA within more than 160 lives lost. As a consequence, KSA has set a goal to provide 100% sewage collection and treatment services to every city with a population above 5000 by 2025, where all treated wastewater will be used.
This research explores several optimization models of planning and designing collection systems, such as regional wastewater and stormwater systems, in order to understand and overcome major performance-related disadvantages and high capital costs. The first model (M-1) was developed for planning regional wastewater system, considering minimum costs of location, type, and size sewer network and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The second model (M-2) was developed for designing a regional wastewater system, considering minimum hydraulic design costs, such as pump stations, commercial diameters, excavation costs, and WWTPs. Both models were applied to the Jizan region, KSA.
The third model (M-3) was developed to solve layout and pipe design for storm water systems simultaneously. This model was applied to four different case scenarios, using two approaches for commercial diameters. The fourth model (M-4) was developed to solve the optimum pipe design of a storm sewer system for given layouts. However, M-4 was applied to a storm sewer network published in the literature.
M-1, M-2, and M-3 were developed in the general algebraic modeling system (GAMS) program, which was formulated as a mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) solver, while M-4 was formulated as a nonlinear programming (NLP) procedure.