The design and construction of a built environment and civil infrastructure that is more environmentally, socially, and economically responsible over its full life cycle is increasingly desirable worldwide.  Altogether these three design goals of improved environmental, social, and economic performance are commonly known as the “triple bottom line” of sustainability.  As a critical set of systems that, on one hand, support our quality of life and enable global development and progress while, on the other hand, consume vast amounts of material resources and energy, it is essential that the built environment is designed according to these comprehensive, long term design goals for its own sustainability and the benefit of planet earth.

While the goals of such sustainable design are well intended, the creation and execution of built environment designs that are socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable is not functionally possible for current infrastructure designers, civil engineers, architects, or urban planners.  This is due to a number of factors.

  • There is a lack of reliable quantitative targets and metrics for sustainable design. There is a need for metrics that are built upon a scientifically-based design approach, as represented by the industrial ecology approach, and are translatable to everyday engineering practice.
  • Probabilistic approaches, which are the hallmark of current civil engineering design theories around the world, have still not been applied to formalize the expectations of reliability-based design procedures that manage uncertainty in design, construction, use, and end of life management phases.
  • Due to the absence of rigorous engineering design theories for sustainability, it remains challenging for advanced materials and methods of design to demonstrate their long-term sustainability benefits in contrast to their often higher initial economic cost. This slows their adoption among practitioners.
  • The lack of systematic application of comprehensive industrial ecology tools and science-based ecological limit state functions spans throughout the early-stage design, planning, construction, and management of sustainable built environments. Such tools should be applied across scales (i.e. from material scale design to urban system design) to best achieve sustainable design outcomes.
  • There are differences in priorities and approaches to sustainable engineering in developed and developing countries, and it is not clear whether similar metrics and tools can apply.

With the aim of elaborating on ways and tools to integrate industrial ecology within the multi-scale design and construction of built environments, this workshop was organized by the Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) of Lawrence Tech University, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Stanford University, and The National Building Research Institute (INBRI) of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

The three-day workshop will bring together researchers to discuss topics on the methodology of industrial ecology for the built environment design, multi-scale design of sustainable urban systems, and engineering of sustainable building materials. Deliberations will focus on the possible implementation of the advanced tools in actual design and construction, addressing the different issues relevant to developed and developing countries. A major goal will be to increase education and awareness of sustainable built environment issues both within and outside of academia.