Matching Items (22)

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The EcoCode: Redesigning the Urban Block

Description

Midwestern cities are in decline, with shrinking populations and corresponding disinvestment. Many organizations and city governments are working on addressing the problem of vacancy while bringing these urban areas into

Midwestern cities are in decline, with shrinking populations and corresponding disinvestment. Many organizations and city governments are working on addressing the problem of vacancy while bringing these urban areas into the global economy. The EcoBlock Organization (EBO), a St. Louis-based non-profit, proposes block-level redevelopment as a method of fostering community and economic development while minimizing the impact on the environment. The EcoCode is a block-level form-based code describing the vision of the EBO and its implementation. This vision is centered around eight key design principles: energy, public health, social, urban design, water, transportation, resilience, and landscape. It manifests as an EcoBlock: a block of buildings surrounding a shared green space, connected by an energy grid and a shared geothermal loop with the goal of net-zero energy. The residences are a mix of building types for a variety of incomes and some building space will be designated for shared use, all physically reflecting the historic design of houses in the city in which the EcoBlock is implemented. Specifications like design, building placement, and mechanisms by which to strive towards net-zero energy and water will be determined in each location in which the EcoBlock is developed. The EcoCode describes the process and the desired outcome, providing a framework for this implementation.
The EcoCode resembles a typical form-based code in structure, but at a smaller geographic scale. General Provisions describes the context of the surrounding area that must be assessed before choosing to create an EcoBlock. Development and Adoption strategy explains the evolving role of the EBO and how the realization of this design is currently envisioned. Regulating Block, Block Development Standards, Building Envelope Standards, and Building Development Standards describe the detail that will need to be developed for the physical aspects of each block. Streetscape Standards describe the vision of the EBO as applicable to the streets surrounding an EcoBlock. Finally, the Sustainability Standards contain the contribution of each board member of the EBO with their unique expertise on implementing the design principles.
As a supplement to The EcoCode itself, this document contains three topics for case studies looking into the feasibility of the EcoBlock as a whole: shared space, net-zero energy, and mixed-income housing. Shared space development and management uses Montgomery Park in Boston to show the potential of community-based organization while warning against gentrification. The West Village campus of the University of California in Davis shows the technical possibility and the financial challenges of a net-zero community. Brogården, an affordable housing community in Sweden, demonstrates the possibility for decreasing energy consumption in public housing. Finally, Via Verde in New York City is an example of combining health, green space, and affordability in a mixed-income housing development. Though there is not yet an example of a fully implemented EcoBlock, these case studies speak to the challenges and the facilitators that the EBO will likely face.

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  • 2018-05

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Evaluating Whether the Benefits of Spinal Fusion Surgeries are Worth Their Increasing Costs

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This thesis seeks to evaluate whether the benefits of spinal fusion surgeries are worth their increasing costs. The paper examines the trends that contribute to these surgeries' increasing prices and

This thesis seeks to evaluate whether the benefits of spinal fusion surgeries are worth their increasing costs. The paper examines the trends that contribute to these surgeries' increasing prices and then evaluates the customer impact of these surgeries in order to make a conclusion on whether the surgeries are worth it. This paper discusses the main factors that contribute to the increase in prices of these surgeries and these include the aging population, the increase in diabetes rates, and the practice of purchasing physicians owned distributorships (PODs) devices in some hospitals. The paper concluded that there is a definite correlation between the increased rate of spinal surgeries performed as a result of an increase in diabetes rates in the US population. It was argued that diabetes can lead to multiple spinal diseases which increase the demand of spinal surgeries which in turn causes the prices of these surgeries to rise. The paper also argued that current technological advances have allowed us to live longer which in turn leads to an increase in spine surgeries simply due to old age and a deteriorating spine. Lastly, it was argued that the recent surge in the POD devices being used in spinal surgeries in some hospitals can be seen as a possible influence to the increase in the cost of these surgeries. This is because the hospitals that chose to purchase surgery devices from PODs are more likely to increase the cost to perform the surgery because they are paying a lot more for those devices. Looking at the customer impact, it was apparent that spinal fusion surgeries carry certain risks because they require decortication of bone and, often, placement of implants; along with extensive dissection and longer operative time. However, based on the research conducted, there was no conclusion to be made on whether spinal fusions carried more risks than all other spinal surgeries because the data used only compared the surgery to some that are arguably less complicated like discectomies.

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Date Created
  • 2017-12

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Bioreactor Alternative to Conventional Landfills

Description

Currently conventional Subtitle D landfills are the primary means of disposing of our waste in the United States. While this method of waste disposal aims at protecting the environment, it

Currently conventional Subtitle D landfills are the primary means of disposing of our waste in the United States. While this method of waste disposal aims at protecting the environment, it does so through the use of liners and caps that effectively freeze the breakdown of waste. Because this method can keep landfills active, and thus a potential groundwater threat for over a hundred years, I take an in depth look at the ability of bioreactor landfills to quickly stabilize waste. In the thesis I detail the current state of bioreactor landfill technologies, assessing the pros and cons of anaerobic and aerobic bioreactor technologies. Finally, with an industrial perspective, I conclude that moving on to bioreactor landfills as an alternative isn't as simple as it may first appear, and that it is a contextually specific solution that must be further refined before replacing current landfills.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Futurist Scenarios Concerning Radical Life Extension

Description

A fundamental component of Transhumanism, radical life extension is the process of utilizing ever increasing technologies to further extend the average life span of humans. This iterative process has continued

A fundamental component of Transhumanism, radical life extension is the process of utilizing ever increasing technologies to further extend the average life span of humans. This iterative process has continued to increase in speed since the digital age. As society develops a larger knowledge base, and scientific fields combine their knowledge bases, the capability of medical professionals continues to increase at an exponential rate. Through an understanding of these technological trends the social, legal, logistical and economic implications can be better understood. Scenarios can be used to better categorize these implications based on the evolution of these technologies. By considering biological, non-biological and linear life extension technologies a broad analysis of the varied implications can be constructed. Based on these scenarios one can conclude radical life extension technologies will have significant impacts on the current social definitions of what it means to be human and how society organizes itself. Continued research towards radical life extension technologies comes with high social implications which must be considered in tandem.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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An Analysis of Confucianism's Influence on China's Social Credit System

Description

There are two main motivations for conducting this analysis. The first motivation is to understand the Social Credit System (SCS) itself: what it is, why it’s being developed, and what

There are two main motivations for conducting this analysis. The first motivation is to understand the Social Credit System (SCS) itself: what it is, why it’s being developed, and what implications it may have for China and the rest of the world. The Social Credit System is a novel idea—it’s the first ever use of AI and machine learning technology by a government for the purposes of social engineering. The long-term consequences of this technology will have a monumental impact on the Chinese peoples’ well-being. Potential implications of the system range from impacts on privacy and activism to whether other countries are inspired to develop a similar technology. There are also many different implementations for this system, each with its own outcome. This system is a consequence of the increasing capabilities of technology and an experimental approach influenced heavily by China’s culture and history, which leads to the second motivation.
Confucianism’s historical influence on China’s culture has made the Social Credit System seem like a good solution to many of China’s major societal problems. As such, the second motivation is to evaluate the impact Confucianism has on the development of the system; this involves understanding what Confucianism is, identifying parallels between it and the SCS, and analyzing how it may affect the Chinese people reaction to a full-fledged SCS. Understanding Confucianism may also illuminate why the government believes this is a good idea, what direction it may want to take this, and what boundaries, if any, the Chinese citizens have. We chose to analyze the SCS from a Confucian perspective because it has played a large role in influencing Chinese culture and history for over 2000 years. The Chinese people have been especially drawn to it in recent years due to increasing corruption, increasing inequality, decreasing trust, and increased social instability.
Although Confucianism may have a significant influence on the development of the SCS, there are also other influences in the mix. One of these influences is China’s AI competition with the US; relaxing privacy protections has given China an enormous amount of data to feed its AI. This system is also another avenue for China to develop their algorithms. There are also the motivations of the Communist party of China. These motivations include market reform, governmental reform, authoritarian interests and bureaucratic interests.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Crossing a zone of mutual oblivion: sustainability and childrearing in the Anthropocene

Description

Raising future generations is a culturally diverse, universally technological human project. This research brought the everyday work of raising children into the domain of sustainability scholarship, by first proposing a

Raising future generations is a culturally diverse, universally technological human project. This research brought the everyday work of raising children into the domain of sustainability scholarship, by first proposing a model of childrearing as a globally distributed socio-technical system, and then exploring the model with participants in two nodes – an elementary and middle school, and a children’s museum. In the process, the research objective shifted towards using methods that were less academic and more relevant to childrearing agents. The focus on participatory survey data was abandoned, in favor of autoethnographic documentation of a long-term engagement with a third node of the system, a child welfare setting. This approach yielded unexpected findings that fit the proposed model, identified characteristics of a Zone of Mutual Oblivion (ZMO) that exists between childrearing and sustainability, and clarified ways in which people prioritize their own needs and responsibilities, the developmental needs of children, the potential needs and capacities of future generations, and the functional integrity of ecological systems.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Examining a sustainable approach to global climate change policy

Description

The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes development as a priority for carbon dioxide (CO2) allocation, under its principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". This was codified

The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes development as a priority for carbon dioxide (CO2) allocation, under its principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". This was codified in the Kyoto Protocol, which exempt developing nations from binding emission reduction targets. Additionally, they could be the recipients of financed sustainable development projects in exchange for emission reduction credits that the developed nations could use to comply with emission targets. Due to ineffective results, post-Kyoto policy discussions indicate a transition towards mitigation commitments from major developed and developing emitters, likely supplemented by market-based mechanisms to reduce mitigation costs. Although the likelihood of achieving substantial emission reductions is increased by the new plan, there is a paucity of consideration to how an ethic of development might be advanced. Therefore, this research empirically investigates the role that CO2 plays in advancing human development (in terms of the Human Development Index or HDI) over the 1990 to 2010 time period. Based on empirical evidence, a theoretical CO2-development framework is established, which provides a basis for designing a novel policy proposal that integrates mitigation efforts with human development objectives. Empirical evidence confirms that CO2 and HDI are highly correlated, but that there are diminishing returns to HDI as per capita CO2 emissions increase. An examination of development pathways reveals that as nations develop, their trajectories generally become less coupled with CO2. Moreover, the developing countries with the greatest gains in HDI are also nations that have, or are in the process of moving toward, outward-oriented trade policies that involve increased domestic capabilities for product manufacture and export. With these findings in mind, future emission targets should reduce current emissions in developed nations and allow room for HDI growth in developing countries as well as in the least developed nations of the world. Emission trading should also be limited to nations with similar HDI levels to protect less-developed nations from unfair competition for capacity building resources. Lastly, developed countries should be incentivized to invest in joint production ventures within the LDCs to build capacity for self-reliant and sustainable development over the long-term.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Environmental, policy and social analysis of photovoltaic technologies

Description

Many expect renewable energy technologies to play a leading role in a sustainable energy supply system and to aid the shift away from an over-reliance on traditional hydrocarbon resources in

Many expect renewable energy technologies to play a leading role in a sustainable energy supply system and to aid the shift away from an over-reliance on traditional hydrocarbon resources in the next few decades. This dissertation develops environmental, policy and social models to help understand various aspects of photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The first part of this dissertation advances the life cycle assessment (LCA) of PV systems by expanding the boundary of included processes using hybrid LCA and accounting for the technology-driven dynamics of environmental impacts. Hybrid LCA extends the traditional method combining bottom-up process-sum and top-down economic input-output (EIO) approaches. The embodied energy and carbon of multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic systems are assessed using hybrid LCA. From 2001 to 2010, the embodied energy and carbon fell substantially, indicating that technological progress is realizing reductions in environmental impacts in addition to lower module price. A variety of policies support renewable energy adoption, and it is critical to make them function cooperatively. To reveal the interrelationships among these policies, the second part of this dissertation proposes three tiers of policy architecture. This study develops a model to determine the specific subsidies required to support a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. The financial requirements are calculated (in two scenarios) and compared with predictable funds from public sources. A main result is that the expected investments to achieve the RPS goal far exceed the economic allocation for subsidy of distributed PV. Even with subsidies there are often challenges with social acceptance. The third part of this dissertation originally develops a fuzzy logic inference model to relate consumers' attitudes about the technology such as perceived cost, maintenance, and environmental concern to their adoption intention. Fuzzy logic inference model is a type of soft computing models. It has the advantage of dealing with imprecise and insufficient information and mimicking reasoning processes of human brains. This model is implemented in a case study of residential PV adoption using data through a survey of homeowners in Arizona. The output of this model is the purchasing probability of PV.

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Date Created
  • 2010

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Moving towards sustainable and resilient smart water grids: networked sensing and control devices in the urban water system

Description

Urban water systems face sustainability challenges ranging from water quality, leaks, over-use, energy consumption, and long-term supply concerns. Resiliency challenges include the capacity to respond to drought, managing pipe deterioration,

Urban water systems face sustainability challenges ranging from water quality, leaks, over-use, energy consumption, and long-term supply concerns. Resiliency challenges include the capacity to respond to drought, managing pipe deterioration, responding to natural disasters, and preventing terrorism. One strategy to enhance sustainability and resiliency is the development and adoption of smart water grids. A smart water grid incorporates networked monitoring and control devices into its structure, which provides diverse, real-time information about the system, as well as enhanced control. Data provide input for modeling and analysis, which informs control decisions, allowing for improvement in sustainability and resiliency. While smart water grids hold much potential, there are also potential tradeoffs and adoption challenges. More publicly available cost-benefit analyses are needed, as well as system-level research and application, rather than the current focus on individual technologies. This thesis seeks to fill one of these gaps by analyzing the cost and environmental benefits of smart irrigation controllers. Smart irrigation controllers can save water by adapting watering schedules to climate and soil conditions. The potential benefit of smart irrigation controllers is particularly high in southwestern U.S. states, where the arid climate makes water scarcer and increases watering needs of landscapes. To inform the technology development process, a design for environment (DfE) method was developed, which overlays economic and environmental performance parameters under different operating conditions. This method is applied to characterize design goals for controller price and water savings that smart irrigation controllers must meet to yield life cycle carbon dioxide reductions and economic savings in southwestern U.S. states, accounting for regional variability in electricity and water prices and carbon overhead. Results from applying the model to smart irrigation controllers in the Southwest suggest that some areas are significantly easier to design for.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Quantum resilience

Description

Quantum resilience is a pragmatic theory that allows systems engineers to formally characterize the resilience of systems. As a generalized theory, it not only clarifies resilience in the literature, but

Quantum resilience is a pragmatic theory that allows systems engineers to formally characterize the resilience of systems. As a generalized theory, it not only clarifies resilience in the literature, but also can be applied to all disciplines and domains of discourse. Operationalizing resilience in this manner permits decision-makers to compare and contrast system deployment options for suitability in a variety of environments and allows for consistent treatment of resilience across domains. Systems engineers, whether planning future infrastructures or managing ecosystems, are increasingly asked to deliver resilient systems. Quantum resilience provides a way forward that allows specific resilience requirements to be specified, validated, and verified.

Quantum resilience makes two very important claims. First, resilience cannot be characterized without recognizing both the system and the valued function it provides. Second, resilience is not about disturbances, insults, threats, or perturbations. To avoid crippling infinities, characterization of resilience must be accomplishable without disturbances in mind. In light of this, quantum resilience defines resilience as the extent to which a system delivers its valued functions, and characterizes resilience as a function of system productivity and complexity. System productivity vis-à-vis specified “valued functions” involves (1) the quanta of the valued function delivered, and (2) the number of systems (within the greater system) which deliver it. System complexity is defined structurally and relationally and is a function of a variety of items including (1) system-of-systems hierarchical decomposition, (2) interfaces and connections between systems, and (3) inter-system dependencies.

Among the important features of quantum resilience is that it can be implemented in any system engineering tool that provides sufficient design and specification rigor (i.e., one that supports standards like the Lifecycle and Systems Modeling languages and frameworks like the DoD Architecture Framework). Further, this can be accomplished with minimal software development and has been demonstrated in three model-based system engineering tools, two of which are commercially available, well-respected, and widely used. This pragmatic approach assures transparency and consistency in characterization of resilience in any discipline.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015