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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).


Date Range
2010 2018


Meaningful sustainable consumption patterns require informed consumers who understand the actual impact of their actions on a quantitative and tangible basis. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool well suited to achieving this goal, but has only been superficially applied to the analysis of plant-based diets. This analysis looks at a common component of plant-based meat alternatives: a wheat-based protein known as seitan, which is a common substitute for beef. A comparative consequential analysis shows the overall change in environmental impact when 1000 servings of seitan displace 1000 servings of beef. The functional unit for comparison is one serving of …

Contributors
Berardy, Andrew
Created Date
2012-05

Sonoma County, CA is on an ambitious pathway to meeting stringent carbon emissions goals that are part of California Assembly Bill 32. At the county-level, climate planners are currently evaluating options to assist residents of the county in reducing their carbon footprint and also for saving money. The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) is one such county-level measure that is currently underway. SCEIP is a revolving loan fund that eligible residents may utilize to install distributed solar energy on their property. The fund operates like a property tax assessment, except that it only remains for a period of 20 …

Contributors
Krause, Andrew
Created Date
2012-05

Our objectives are to: (1) review the LCA literature to determine the dominant environmental impact categories in wild-caught fisheries in order to evaluate which phases are causing the greatest impacts; and (2) determine how these impacts can best be mitigated and develop a framework that seeks to incorporates LCA into sustainable seafood guides so that consumers can make better-informed decisions. This framework will include developing meaningful LCA impact categories for sustainable seafood guides. Despite their importance, we considered social factors beyond the scope of this paper.

Contributors
Senko, Jesse
Created Date
2012-05

The objective of this work is to perform LCAs three wastewater treatement alternatives at battalion-sized (500 soldier) FOBs. Three systems will be explored: traditional wastewater treatment of combined blackwater and graywater streams using activated sludge and anaerobic digestion (the status quo); MXC treatment of blackwater to produce H2O2 for disinfection of blackwater and graywater; a hybrid system of blackwater treatments with MXCs to produce electricity with graywater disinfection using H2O2 produced offsite. Environmental impacts are assessed using Impact 2002+ midpoint and endpoint categories, primarily reported for human health and environmental impacts. Uncertainity analysis is performed using two techniques. First, a …

Contributors
Young, Michelle
Created Date
2014-06-13

Here I plan to use CLCA to evaluate the environmental impact (and economy by using MFA??) by changing traditional crop to AVP1 GM crop. In this study I will compare wild type (WT) and AVP1 transgenic romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv. conquistador). This is a study of P fertilizer being applied on romaine lettuce from gate to grave and making a comparison between WT and AVP1 romaine lettuce. The system boundary would be commercial P fertilizers applied on all lettuce in the U.S. The lettuce includes head lettuce, leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce. The amount of P fertilizers such as …

Contributors
Chan, Neng Iong
Created Date
2014-06-13

This study analyzes the feasibility of using algae cultivated from wastewater effluent to produce a biodiesel feedstock. The goal was to determine if the energy produced was greater than the operational energy consumed without consideration to constructing the system as well as the emissions and economic value associated with the process. Four scenarios were created; 1) high-lipid, dry extraction, 2) high-lipid, wet extraction, 3) low-lipid, dry extraction and, 4) low-lipid, wet extraction. In all cases the system required more energy than it produced. In high lipid scenarios the energy produced is close to the energy consumed and with minor improvements …

Contributors
Barr, William, Hottle, Troy
Created Date
2012-05

In the economic crisis Detroit has been enduring for many decades, a unique crisis has emerged with the provision of water that is normally not seen in the developed world. The oversized, deteriorating, and underfunded water provision system has been steadily accruing debt for the water utility since population began to decrease in the 1950’s. As a result, the utility has instated rate increases and aggressive water shut off policies for non-paying residents. Residents have consequentially claimed that their human right to water has been breeched. In this report, I analyze possible solutions to the water crisis from both the …

Contributors
Bondank, Emily

Hemcrete is an alternative, environmentally‐friendly building material gaining adherents in Great Britain and other European countries. It is an attractive choice as a building material because it is made from a renewable resource, hemp, a hardy plant that is a close, but non‐hallucinogenic relative of marijuana. This plant is relatively easy to cultivate, requires little in the way of pesticides or fertilizers, and almost all parts can be used for various products from paper to textiles to food. Hemcrete is made from a mixture of lime, water, and the fibrous outer portion of the hemp plant called the “hurd” or …

Contributors
Dolins, Sigma, Guiley, Keith, Poletti, Joseph, et al.
Created Date
2013-05

Anticipatory LCA seeks to overcome the paucity of data through scenario development and thermodynamic bounding analyses. Critical components of anticipatory LCA include: 1) laboratory-scale inventory data collection for nano-manufacturing processes, and preliminary performance evaluation, 2) thermodynamic modeling of manufacturing processes and developing scenarios of efficiency gains informed by analogous material processing industries, and 3) use-phase bounding to report inventory data in a functional unit descriptive of performance. Together these analyses may call attention to environmentally problematic processes or nanotechnologies before significant investments in R&D and infrastructure contribute to technology lock in. The following case study applies these components of anticipatory …

Contributors
Wender, Ben
Created Date
2012-05

In the spring of 2016, The City of Apache Junction partnered with the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University on three forward-thinking plans for development in Apache Junction. Graduate students in the Urban and Environmental Planning program worked alongside City staff, elected officials and the public to identify opportunities and visions for 1) multi-modal access and connectivity improvements for City streets and open space; 2) downtown development; and 3) a master-planned community on state land south of the U.S. 60. The following sections of the report present Apache Junction’s unique characteristics, current resident demographics, development …

Contributors
Barr, Jason, Bolen, Spencer, Chen, Dian, 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

Urban landscaping palm tree waste in the form of palm frond trimmings and bark shavings currently handled as municipal solid waste by the City of Phoenix, and other major municipalities, can be more cost effective and lead to reductions in emissions and greenhouse gases. While many cities have green organics collection and diversion programs, they always exclude palm tree waste due to its unique properties. As a result, an unknown tonnage of palm tree waste is landfilled as municipal solid waste annually. Additionally, as the tonnage is unknown, so are the associated emissions, greenhouse gases and costs. An attributional life-­‐ …

Contributors
Antaya, David
Created Date
2013-05

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.

This LCA used data from a previous LCA done by Chester and Horvath (2012) on the proposed California High Speed Rail, and furthered the LCA to look into potential changes that can be made to the proposed CAHSR to be more resilient to climate change. This LCA focused on the energy, cost, and GHG emissions associated with raising the track, adding fly ash to the concrete mixture in place of a percentage of cement, and running the HSR on solar electricity rather than the current electricity mix. Data was collected from a variety of sources including other LCAs, research studies, …

Contributors
Barnes, Elizabeth
Created Date
2014-06-13

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus is the interaction and the interdependence of the food, energy and water systems. These interdependencies exist in all parts of the world yet little knowledge exists of the complexity within these interdependent systems. Using Arizona as a case study, systems-oriented frameworks are examined for their value in revealing the complexity of FEW nexus. Industrial Symbiosis, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Urban Metabolism are examined. The Industrial Symbiosis presents the system as purely a technical one and looks only at technology and hard infrastructure. The LCA framework takes a reductionist approach and tries to make the system …

Contributors
Natarajan, Mukunth, Chester, Mikhail

The ultimate goal of this LCA is to give Arizona State University specific advice on possible changes in lighting systems that will reduce environmental impacts and support ASU’s sustainability efforts. The aim is to assess the potential for a decrease in specific environmental impacts (CO2 emissions and energy use) and economic impact (cost) from changing to a different type of lighting in a prototypical classroom in Wrigley Hall. The scope of this assessment is to analyze the impacts of T8 lamps lasting 50,000 hours. Thus, a functional unit was defined as 50,000 hours of use, maintaining roughly 825 lumens. To …

Contributors
Helble, Parker, Hoff, Elena, Stein, Andy, et al.
Created Date
2014-06-13

In an effort to provide drinking water treatment options that are simple to operate, two hybrid resins have been developed that can treat multiple pollutants in a single step. A parent weak base anion exchange resin is embedded with nanoparticles made of either iron hydroxide or titanium dioxide (Fe-WBAX and Ti-WBAX, respectively). These provide targeted treatment for both arsenic and hexavalent chromium, common groundwater pollutants of recent regulatory significance. The project goal is to evaluate the environmentally preferable choice between Fe-WBAX and Ti-WBAX resin for simultaneous treatment of arsenic and hexavalent chromium in drinking water. The secondary goal is to …

Contributors
Glifford, Mac
Created Date
2014-06-13

Healthcare infection control has led to increased utilization of disposable medical devices, which has subsequently led to increased adverse environmental effects attributed to healthcare and its supply chain. In dental practice, the dental bur is a commonly used instrument that can either be reused or used once and then disposed. To evaluate the disparities in environmental impacts of disposable and reusable dental burs, a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed. The comparative LCA evaluated a reusable dental bur (specifically, a 2.00mm Internal Irrigation Pilot Drill) reused 30 instances versus 30 identical burs used as disposables. The LCA methodology was …

Contributors
Unger, Scott
Created Date
2013-05

This paper researches an attributional life-cycle assessment (ALCA) of a commonly used consumer product, specifically one bottle of 8-ounce Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion. This LCA analyzed the impacts associated from cradle-to-grave processes of one bottle of Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion, including raw material extraction, raw material processing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use and end-of-life of both the lotion itself as well as the bottle. To successfully propose end-of-life management techniques, three different disposal options were analyzed: landfill disposal, incineration and recycling. All processes included in the system boundary were compared across three main midpoint impact categories: Fossil depletion, Freshwater depletion and …

Contributors
Faught, David, Mann, Chelsea, Thakur, Ankita, et al.
Created Date
2014-06-13

There is increasing evidence that vehicle travel in developed countries may have peaked, contradicting many historical travel demand forecasts. The underlying causes of this peaking are still under debate and there has been a mobilization of research, largely focused at national scales, to study the explanatory drivers. There is, however, a dearth of research focused at the metropolitan scale where transportation policy and planning are frequently decided. Using Los Angeles County, California, as a case study, we investigate the Peak Car theory and whether social, economic, and technical factors, including roadways that have become saturated at times, may be contributing …

Contributors
Fraser, Andrew, Chester, Mikhail