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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).


Contributor
Date Range
2012 2014


California high-speed rail will add a new long-distance transportation service and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and damages to human health and the environment. A life-cycle assessment is performed and results reported for the California corridor in the 2030 to 2050 time period. Several future infrastructure and operating characteristics are evaluated to determine the critical characteristics that should be focused on when designing, constructing, and operating the system. This research provides results for and discussions of the possible futures of California long-distance transportation service with a focus on a multi-modal system that includes high-speed rail.

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail, Horvath, Arpad
Created Date
2012-04-11
Contributors
Ferrell, Janet, Spierre, Susan, Chester, Mikhail
Created Date
2012-05

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.

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail
Created Date
2012-07-30

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 …

Contributors
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 …

Contributors
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 …

Contributors
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 …

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail, Bosfield, Roberta, Celoza, Amelia, et al.
Created Date
2012-12

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 www.transportationlca.org/losangelesroadways/

Contributors
Fraser, Andrew, Chester, Mikhail
Created Date
2013-04

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 …

Contributors
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.

Contributors
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 …

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

The US-Canadian electricity grid is a network of providers and users that operate almost completely independently of one another. In August of 2003, First Energy’s (FE) Harding-Chamberlain transmission line near Akron, Ohio went offline starting a series of cascading failures that eventually led to 8 US states and 1 Canadian province totaling nearly 50 million people without power. The failure of transmission lines are common occurrences relating to the inability to exactly predict the electricity demand at any time (as will be discussed later in this document). The inability to properly monitor and react across multiple organizations to the downed …

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail

Results are available at www.transportationlca.org The environmental life cycle assessment of electric rail public transit modes requires an assessment of electricity generation mixes. The provision of electricity to a region does not usually adhere to geopolitical boundaries. Electricity is governed based on lowest cost marginal dispatch and reliability principles. Additionally, there are times when a public transit agency may purchase wholesale electricity from a particular service provider. Such is the case with electric rail modes in the San Francisco Bay Area. An environmental life cycle assessment of San Francisco Bay Area public transit systems was developed by Chester and Horvath …

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail

Phoenix is the sixth most populated city in the United States and the 12th largest metropolitan area by population, with about 4.4 million people. As the region continues to grow, the demand for housing and jobs within the metropolitan area is projected to rise under uncertain climate conditions. Undergraduate and graduate students from Engineering, Sustainability, and Urban Planning in ASU’s Urban Infrastructure Anatomy and Sustainable Development course evaluated the water, energy, and infrastructure changes that result from smart growth in Phoenix, Arizona. The Maricopa Association of Government's Sustainable Transportation and Land Use Integration Study identified a market for 485,000 residential …

Contributors
Nahlik, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail, Andrade, Luis, et al.

Already the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, extreme heat events (EHEs) are expected to occur with greater frequency, duration and intensity over the next century. However, not all populations are affected equally. Risk factors for heat mortality—including age, race, income level, and infrastructure characteristics—often vary by geospatial location. While traditional epidemiological studies sometimes account for social risk factors, they rarely account for intra-urban variability in meteorological characteristics, or for the interaction between social and meteorological risks. This study aims to develop estimates of EHEs at an intra-urban scale for two major metropolitan areas in the Southwest: …

Contributors
Bartos, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail
Created Date
2014-06-12

In recent years, concerns have grown over the risks posed by climate change on the U.S. electricity grid. The availability of water resources is integral to the production of electric power, and droughts are expected to become more frequent, severe, and longer-lasting over the course of the twenty-first century. The American Southwest, in particular, is expected to experience large deficits in streamflow. Studies on the Colorado River anticipate streamflow declines of 20-45% by 2050. Other climactic shifts—such as higher water and air temperatures—may also adversely affect power generation. As extreme weather becomes more common, better methods are needed to assess …

Contributors
Bartos, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail

Climatic changes have the potential to impact electricity generation in the U.S. Southwest and methods are needed for estimating how cities will be impacted. This study builds an electricity vulnerability risk index for two Southwest cities (Phoenix and Los Angeles) based on climate-related changes in electricity generation capacity. Planning reserve margins (PRM) are used to estimate the potential for blackouts and brownouts under future climate scenarios. Reductions in PRM occur in both cities in 2016 with the most significant reductions occurring in regions relying more heavily on hydropower.

Contributors
Sivaraman, Deepak, Bartos, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail, et al.

Recent climatic trends show more flooding and extreme heat events and in the future transportation infrastructure may be susceptible to more frequent and intense environmental perturbations. Our transportation systems have largely been designed to withstand historical weather events, for example, floods that occur at an intensity that is experience once every 100 years, and there is evidence that these events are expected become more frequent. There are increasing efforts to better understand the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure. An abundance of new research is emerging to study various aspects of climate change on transportation systems. Much of this …

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail, Fraser, Andrew, Bartos, Matthew

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication: Household Accessibility to Heat Refuges: Residential Air Conditioning, Public Cooled Space, and Walkability, Preprint Online 2016 (Final Publication Expected 2017), Andrew Fraser, Mikhail Chester, David Eisenman, David Hondula, Stephanie Pincetl, Paul English, and Emily Bondank, Environment and Planning B, Volume and Issue Forthcoming, doi: 10.1177/0265813516657342. The publication is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265813516657342 Access to air conditioned space is critical for protecting urban populations from the adverse effects of heat exposure. Yet there remains fairly limited knowledge of penetration of private (home air conditioning) and distribution of public (cooling centers and commercial space) …

Contributors
Fraser, Andrew, Chester, Mikhail, Eisenman, David, et al.

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication: Building Thermal Performance, Climate Change, and Urban Heat Vulnerability, Matthew Nahlik, Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, David Eisenman, Deepak Sivaraman, and Paul English, 2017, ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(3), doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000349 The publication is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000349 The leading source of weather-related deaths in the United States is heat, and future projections show that the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat events will increase in the Southwest. Presently, there is a dearth of knowledge about how infrastructure may perform during heat waves or could contribute to social vulnerability. To understand how buildings …

Contributors
Nahlik, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail, Pincetl, Stephanie, et al.