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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


This study aims to quantify the environmental impacts of a hospital’s daily BMW disposal in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The sole option to dispose of BMW in Arizona is to sterilize the waste by sending it through an autoclave, and then dispose the sterilized waste in a landfill. This study used a Phoenix area hospital to create a start point for the waste and a general estimation of how much BMW the hospital disposes of. The system boundary for the LCA includes BMW generated at the Phoenix-area Hospital as it is travels to Stericycle, where it is autoclaved, and then ...

Contributors
Inskeep, Jaimi, Pashouwer, Jera, Peige, Katie, et al.
Created Date
2014-06-13

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.

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.

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.

There is no ’typical’ production process for Legally Autonomous Adults (LAD). However, some very general inputs and flows can be assumed: Physical, mental, emotional, and social or cultural inputs are provided by primary caregivers throughout the process. LADs in Arizona in the 21st century are produced in small batches. Inputs tend to be provided by consistent sources according to unique values, and the production process does not actually stop cold at the factory gate, but continues on into the next phase. Sometimes, due to externalities like substance dependence or domestic violence, the original production process either deprives the product of ...

Contributors
Cazel-Jahn, Angela
Created Date
2013-05

Mitigation of urban heat islands has become a goal for research and policy as urban environmental heat is a rapidly growing concern. Urban regions such as Phoenix, AZ are facing projected warming as urban populations grow and global climates warm (McCarthy et al. 2010), and severe urban heat can even lead to human mortality and morbidity (Berko et al. 2014). Increased urban heat may also have social and economic consequences such as by discouraging physical activity, reducing outdoor accessibility, and decreasing economic output (Stamatakis et al. 2013; Karner et al. 2015; Obradovich & Fowler 2017; Kjellstrom et al. 2009). Urban ...

Contributors
Hoehne, Christopher
Created Date
2018-01-15

While the definition of sustainability remains open for all to contribute to and participate in, there do seem to be some notions it has come to embody that should not be neglected as the definition coalesces. Among these are the ethical and social dimensions of sustainability. Whether or not it is appropriate, required, or even desirable, concepts like social equity, human rights, ethical sharing of commons, etc. have increasingly come under the umbrella of the sustainability discourse. Even if “sustainability” as a bare word doesn’t imply those things, the concept of sustainable development certainly has taken on those dimensions. That ...

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

Global climate models predict increases in precipitation events in the Phoenix-metropolitan area and with the proposition of more flooding new insights are needed for protecting roadways and the services they provide. Students from engineering, sustainability, and planning worked together in ASU’s Urban Infrastructure Anatomy Spring 2016 course to assess i) how historical floods changed roadway designs, ii) precipitation forecasts to mid-century, iii) the vulnerability of roadways to more frequent precipitation, iv) adaptation strategies focusing on safe-to-fail thinking, and v) strategies for overcoming institutional barriers to enable transitions. The students designed an EPA Storm Water Management Model for the City of ...

Contributors
Al Rasbi, Omar, Archer, Harold, Azizi, Tariq Aziz, 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

In his writings over the past decade, Brad Allenby has proposed (at least) 16 principles of sustainable engineering (see references) that are collectively known as the Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) principles. These principles have merit and applicability in many disciplines and domains of discourse, but are sometimes awkward to use due to the quantity of words required to accurately express their meaning. In light of this, it has become necessary to formulate a simplified list of “abbreviated tags” for ease of reference in conversation and concise writing. This list of tags also makes the principles immediately accessible to ...

Contributors
Roberts, Tom
Created Date
2011-05-20