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Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management

A collection of scholarly work published by and supporting the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management (CESEM) at Arizona State University.

CESEM focuses on "earth systems engineering and management," providing a basis for understanding, designing, and managing the complex integrated built/human/natural systems that increasingly characterize our planet.

Works in this collection are particularly important in linking engineering, technology, and sustainability, and are increasingly intertwined with the work of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS).

Mime Type
  • application/pdf
Date Range
2012 2014

Ferrell, Janet, Spierre, Susan, Chester, Mikhail
Created Date

The goal of this working paper is to provide the methodological background for several upcoming reports and peer-reviewed journal publications. This manuscript only provides background methodology and does not show or interpret any of the results that are being generated by the research team. The methodology is consistent with the transportation LCA approach developed by the author in previous research. The discussion in this working paper provides the detailed background data and steps used by the research team for their assessment of Los Angeles Metro transit lines and a competing automobile trip.

Chester, Mikhail
Created Date

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions. To better inform decision-makers, this project evaluates the decision to construct and operate public transportation systems and the expected energy and environmental benefits over continued automobile use. The public transit systems are selected based on screening criteria. Initial screening included advanced implementation (5 to 10 years so change in ridership could be observed), similar geographic regions to ensure consistency of analysis parameters, common transit agencies or authorities to ensure a …

Chester, Mikhail, Eisenstein, William, Pincetl, Stephanie, et al.

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 …

Ferrell, Janet, Chester, Mikhail

This policy brief has been superseded by publication of the results in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), Volume 33, No. 4. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X13507485 Study Background: Researchers at ASU have determined that significant energy and environmental benefits are possible in the Phoenix metro area over the next 60 years from transit-oriented development along the current Valley Metro light rail line. The team evaluated infill densification outcomes when vacant lots and some dedicated surface parking lots are repurposed for residential development. Life cycle building (construction, use, and energy production) and transportation (manufacturing, operation, and energy production) changes were included …

Kimball, Mindy, Chester, Mikhail, Gino, Christopher, et al.

This report is the consolidated work of an interdisciplinary course project in CEE494/598, CON598, and SOS598, Urban Infrastructure Anatomy and Sustainable Development. In Fall 2012, the course at Arizona State University used sustainability research frameworks and life-cycle assessment methods to evaluate the comprehensive benefits and costs when transit-oriented development is infilled along the proposed light rail transit line expansion. In each case, and in every variation of possible future scenarios, there were distinct life-cycle benefits from both developing in more dense urban structures and reducing automobile travel in the process. Results from the report are superseded by our publication in …

Chester, Mikhail, Bosfield, Roberta, Celoza, Amelia, et al.
Created Date

An inter-temporal life cycle cost and greenhouse gas emissions assessment of the Los Angeles roadway network is developed to identify how construction decisions lead to embedded impacts and create an emergent behavior (vehicle miles traveled by users) in the long run. A video of the growth of the network and additional information are available at

Fraser, Andrew, Chester, Mikhail
Created Date

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation, yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and supply chain processes, are rarely considered. Using the new bus rapid transit and light rail lines in Los Angeles, near-term and long-term life-cycle impact assessments are developed, including consideration of reduced automobile travel. Energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants are assessed, as well the potential for smog and respiratory impacts. Results show that life-cycle infrastructure, vehicle, and energy production components significantly increase the footprint of each …

Chester, Mikhail, Pincetl, Stephanie, Elizabeth, Zoe, et al.

Building energy assessment often focuses on the use of electricity and natural gas during the use phase of a structure while ignoring the energy investments necessary to construct the facility. This research develops a methodology for quantifying the “embedded” energy and greenhouse gases (GHG) in the building infrastructure of an entire metropolitan region. “Embedded” energy and GHGs refer to the energy necessary to manufacture materials and construct the infrastructure. Using these methods, a case study is developed for Los Angeles County.

Reyna, Janet, Chester, Mikhail

Researchers at ASU have identified opportunities to reduce risk to human health and the environment by changing the composition and disposal practices of polymers. Although plastics have benefited society in innumerable ways, the resulting omnipresence of plastics in society has led to concerns about the hazards of constant, low-level exposure and the search for options for sustainable disposal. The team used examples from public health and medicine-sectors that have particularly benefited from polymer applications, to highlight the benefits of using plastics in certain applications and to pinpoint opportunities for reducing risks from all plastics’ uses. These include phasing out polymers …

North, Emily, Halden, Rolf, Chester, Mikhail, et al.