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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


Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) is a framework for both discussing and addressing the adaptive management of complex socio-ecological systems (SES). Governance of emerging technologies is an SES challenge that demonstrates all the classic symptoms of a wicked problem. This paper surveys governance literature in light of the ESEM principles and explores the potential for using the principles of ESEM as a mechanism for governance, addressing particularly ESEM’s overlap with the recently promulgated anticipatory governance as defined by its three pillars of foresight, engagement, and integration. This paper demonstrates that the intersection of these concepts is significant and concludes …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

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

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.

Many relationships exist between humans and their animal companions. Regardless of the relationship, the costs of pet ownership are more than just veterinary bills and the purchase of pet food. The purpose of this study is to examine the environmental impacts associated with ownership of canus lupus familiaris, more commonly known as the domesticated dog. Since dogs are carnivorous by nature, there has already been significant interest in the ecological ‘pawprint’ of pet food, or the pressure that dog food production exerts on the environment. This study utilizes Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to determine the environmental impacts of industrial pet …

Contributors
Rushforth, Richard, Moreau, Michael
Created Date
2013-05

With potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions relative to other modes, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may significantly increase human and environmental impacts from door-to-door transit trips. Yet little rigorous work has been developed that quantitatively assesses the effects of transit access or egress by automobiles. This research evaluates the life-cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is developed. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase multimodal transit trip …

Contributors
Christopher, Hoehne, Chester, Mikhail

Recent developments in computational software and public accessibility of gridded climatological data have enabled researchers to study Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects more systematically and at a higher spatial resolution. Previous studies have analyzed UHI and identified significant contributors at the regional level for cities, within the topology of urban canyons, and for different construction materials. In UHIs, air is heated by the convective energy transfer from land surface materials and anthropogenic activities. Convection is dependent upon the temperature of the surface, temperature of the air, wind speed, and relative humidity. At the same time, air temperature is also influenced …

Contributors
Burillo, Daniel, Chester, Mikhail, Kaloush, Kamil, 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

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.

Vehicle trips presently account for approximately 50% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions(San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 2008). City and county officials have developed aggressive strategies for the future of passenger transportation in the metropolitan area, and are determined to move away from a “business as usual” future. This project starts with current-state source data from a life-cycle comparison of urban transportation systems (Chester, Horvath, & Madanat, 2010), and carries the inventoried emissions and energy usage through by way of published future scenarios for San Francisco. From the extrapolated calculations of future emissions/energy, the implied mix of transportation modes can …

Contributors
Kimball, Mindy
Created Date
2012-05

Public transit necessitates environmental exposure and there is increasing recognition that in a future with hotter temperatures new strategies are needed to protect passengers. Arizona State University’s Spring 2017 Urban Infrastructure Anatomy course assessed travel behavior, public transit stop design, and heat exposure to develop recommendations for mitigating heat exposure. Travel surveys, analysis of infrastructure characteristics, and thermal imaging were used to assess exposure. A suite of mitigation strategies was developed from a literature review, conversations with experts, and review of other transit systems. Focusing on neighborhoods in Tempe, Arizona, strategies are developed for protecting future riders from negative health …

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

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.

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

Our study calculates the estimated difference in water use, energy demands, and CO2 emissions of head lettuce associated with the production (land preparation and growing operations, chemical inputs, irrigation) and the transportation (diesel demand) to the Phoenix metro area from: 1) a local level, defined here as within Maricopa County, Arizona (AZ) and 2) from the central coast of California (CA) in Monterey County. Our research results demonstrate that local lettuce is more resource intensive than non-local or regional produce. Production in Maricopa County has significantly higher (more than double) energy demands and emissions than Monterey County. Irrigation and chemical …

Contributors
Schoon, Briar, Talbot, Kathleen, Xiong, Angie
Created Date
2012-05

This paper’s intent is to explore the environmental gap analysis tool, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), as it pertains to the decision-making process. As LCA is more frequently utilized as a measurement of environmental impact, it is prudent to understand the historical and potential impact that LCA has had or can have on its inclusion in public policy domain - specifically as it intersects the anticipatory governance framework and the supporting decision-making precautionary principle framework. For that purpose, LCA will be examined in partnership with the Precautionary Principle in order to establish practical application. LCA and Precautionary Principle have been used …

Contributors
Culver, James, Davis-Welty, Joshua, Kao, Karen
Created Date
2013-05

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 research study present a life cycle assessment comparing the potential environmental impacts of two concrete construction methods used for building construction projects: Pre-cast and Cast-in-place concrete. The objective of the study was to provide a beneficial assessment of the potential environmental impacts by quantifying global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication associated with the two construction methods. Data for the two construction methods came from numerous industry reports and relatively recent journal article publications on the subject, although a majority of the data came from the Portland Cement Association’s Annual U.S. and Canadian Labor Energy Input Survey.

Contributors
Ramsey, David, Ghosh, Arundhati, Abbaszadegan, Amin, et al.
Created Date
2014-06-13

This study seeks to examine how the introduction of residential solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) will affect urban air quality. Both the life-cycle and operations emissions profiles of an SOFC are compared with the baseload electricity generating technologies that widespread adoption of SOFCs would replace – coal fired, natural gas combined cycle, and nuclear. The monetary impacts from use phase emissions are then assessed in five water-vulnerable cities in which SOFCs would likely be adopted in order to increase local resilience to electricity failures as a result of water shortages. The SOFC system under study is a 1 kWe system …

Contributors
Herron, Seth
Created Date
2012-05

An increase in population and need to protect the planet has created many initiatives and research goals in developing alternatives methods of fueling. Federal and state policies have provided a push for industries to find ways to of reducing their impact on the environment while maintaining competitiveness. In the sector of alternative fuels, large policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) in the United States are making goals to reduce vehicular fuel from coal and oil, and focus on alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Along with the RFS and other federal policies, states are introducing independent initiatives …

Contributors
Harden, Cheyenne
Created Date
2013-05

This paper applies LCA methodology using local variables to assess the environmental impacts of the food grade glass containers that are disposed of on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus throughout their two distinct end-of-life scenarios: glass to be recycled or glass to be sent to the landfill as refuse.

Contributors
Johnson, Sam, Kaehr, Andrew, Vietti, Alexandra
Created Date
2013-05