Annual Lecture Series

4th Annual Lecture
Prioritizing Research and Development Pathways through Quantitative Sustainable Design
Jeremy S. Guest, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
With population growth, urbanization, and rapidly changing environments, challenges to meeting basic human needs through civil and environmental infrastructure are becoming increasingly complex. In the case of wastewater management, it is broadly acknowledged that the 20th century model of infrastructure systems – characterized by disjointed and inflexible components that rely on energy- and chemical-intensive treatment processes – is no longer viable. Moving beyond the protection of public and local environmental health, the industry is seeking technological solutions that will achieve integrated water, nutrient, and energy management while enabling financial viability and the pursuit of broader goals for environmental sustainability (e.g., carbon neutrality). This transition has become a catalyst for research and development, but a critical challenge to achieving rapid and transformative innovations has been the expansive landscape of technology development pathways and the lack of a transparent and consistent framework to target investment.

This presentation will provide a framework to identify and prioritize opportunities for innovation to advance civil and environmental engineering, with a focus on drinking water and wastewater treatment. By integrating experimental data and process modeling with techno-economic analysis (TEA), life cycle assessment (LCA), and traditional metrics for technology performance under uncertainty, a quantitative sustainable design (QSD) framework will be used to identify technology targets and chart a path forward for innovation. This QSD framework will be presented in the context of two emerging technologies – anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) for energy recovery from wastewater and enzyme-based perchlorate removal in drinking water treatment – and will provide examples of how to leverage fundamental insight from laboratory-scale experiments to advance systems-scale sustainability.

3rd Annual Lecture
Sustainable infrastructure
Tim Chapman, Director and Leader -Infrastructure London Group, ARUP
Infrastructure is the basis for our civilisation. It supports our way of living. It must also be the agent that we use to make the vital improvements so that our species can survive. Climate change is one of the most significant threats to humanity. Many people think that making construction lower carbon is about buildings and Part L of Building Regulations. Actually, there are much bigger impacts that can be made by improving infrastructure. But infrastructure has great longevity, and changes take decades to make. Crossrail was first proposed in 1943 and will hopefully open in 2019, 76 years later. In the UK, the Climate Change Act 2008 mandates a reduction in the UK’s 1990 territorial emissions by 80%. Achieving this will not be easy.The rest of the world needs to make similar commitments, and last year’s COP21 summit was encouraging. This talk will explain a little about the essence of infrastructure and highlight how to make huge steps towards a world where we only use 20% of our previously profligate use, while maintaining living standards and prosperity.

2nd Annual Lecture
Resilience in Sustainable Civil Engineering
Professor Bruce Beck, Formerly of the University of Georgia, USA, Visiting Professor, Imperial College London
Sustainability, Resilience, Smartness, Antifragility, Nexus-security ... What’s in these words? Rather a lot, especially when it comes to Resilience. After all, who would not want their city, the nation’s infrastructure, or the global built environment to be abundantly resilient? The devil, of course, resides in pinning down the detail, not only in defining what resilience is, but also in apprehending how to engineer it into the parts and the whole of a system. This lecture focuses on a particular span of resilience: ecological resilience. Among other things, this has much to do with what economists call creative destruction. It also has to do with technological innovation, including (most importantly) prompting and facilitating “breakouts” from technological lock-in’s, such as that evident in our water and wastewater infrastructure. To build a case for chipping away at such challenges, and en route introducing some core concepts of ecological resilience, a handful of case studies from practice are examined: the flood-resilient city; the greening of grey infrastructure; and nutrient resource recovery and recycling. London’s Millennium Bridge provides the initial motivation for the Lecture, as well as exposure subsequently to some nascent elements of “resilience engineering”. In the end, a challenge is presented, of how to keep the lights on, for as long as possible, after the storm of a lifetime, in clusters of smart buildings. The Barclay Tower in New York City illustrates the point. In short, the Lecture will be a journey through some systems thinking and some systems. Indeed, these will be systems that are perhaps most odd bedfellows for many of us: systems, that is, in Engineering, Ecology, Anthropology, Finance, and Enterprise Risk Management.

1st Annual Lecture
Innovation in Sustainable Civil Engineering
Professor David Balmforth, Visiting Professor, Imperial College London
Abstract to follow

Seminar Series

Lecture One. David Balmforth. Imperial College London. 
Planning to Flood. 

David is a Visiting Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, attached to the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Section (EWRE) and a former Vice-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). He is currently Executive Technical Director of MWH. 

Lecture Two. Professor Jacqui Glass. University of Loughborough. 
Risks and responsibilities in the sourcing of materials for civil engineering projects. 

Jacqui is Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Construction, specialising in sustainable construction. She is well known for her research and collaborative projects on responsible sourcing in construction and the Action Programme for Responsible Sourcing (APRES).