Asee peer logo

A Guiding Vision, Road Map, And Principles For Researching And Teaching Sustainable Design And Construction

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Where are We Going? The Future of Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.49.1 - 11.49.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Karen Lee Hansen

visit author page

Assistant Professor

visit author page

author page

Jorge Vanegas Georgia Institute of Technology

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Guiding Vision, Road Map, and Principles for Researching and Teaching Sustainable Design and Construction


The Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) industry plays a critical role in delivering a diverse range of Facilities and Civil Infrastructure Systems (F&CIS), including residential, building, industrial facilities, and transportation, energy, water supply, waste management, and communications systems. It also plays a critical role in maintaining their quality, integrity, and longevity. At the same time, the A/E/C industry contributes to natural resource depletion, waste generation and accumulation, and environmental impact and degradation. Traditional approaches of environmental regulatory compliance, or of reactive corrective actions to slow, reduce, and eliminate these impacts have proven to be consistently costly, inefficient and often ineffective. In response, a wide range of constituencies from both within and outside the A/E/C industry have been attempting to define the attributes and characteristics of sustainable F&CIS, the processes for the sustainable delivery and use of F&CIS, and the resources required for the delivery and use of F&CIS in a sustainable way.

In a sustainable approach to F&CIS, decision-makers need to integrate sustainability at all stages of the project life cycle, particularly the early funding allocation, planning and conceptual design phases. More specifically, to be successful in the pursuit of sustainability, the A/E/C industry needs to: (1) define, plan, and design more sustainable F&CIS; (2) procure, construct, commission, operate, and maintain F&CIS in more sustainable ways; and (3) supply more sustainable building technologies, systems, products and materials used within F&CIS. Satisfying these needs require a new paradigm, anchored in three elements: the first is a vision for sustainability at global, industry, and project levels; the second is an implementation road map at strategic, tactical, and operational levels; and the third is a set of specific sustainability principles, which provide the foundation for the vision and road map.

The challenges posed by this paradigm are, among others: (1) sustainability is a very complex domain; (2) the literature on built environment sustainability is rich, extensive, and diverse; and (3) many academic institutions have active and mature education and research programs on built environment sustainability that have evolved over years of work and with a significant amount of sponsored research investment. So the questions for educators and researchers who may be interested in establishing education and research programs in sustainable F&CIS are: What can be done? How can it be done? With what resources can it be done? This paper proposes answers to these three questions, as a starting point for an on going, industry-wide dialogue.


According to the Brundtland Commission, the concept of sustainable development is a way to ensure “…meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." [1] Other authors, such as Liverman et al., go beyond this definition, and define “…sustainability to be the indefinite survival of the human species (with a quality of life beyond mere biological survival) through the maintenance of basic life support systems (air, water, land, biota) and the existence of infrastructure and institutions which distribute and protect the components of these systems." [2]

Multiple organizations within the international community have been formally, explicitly, and proactively addressing sustainable development and sustainability for many years, for example: the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), the World Bank, the United Nations, Lead International, and numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Examples in the U.S. include, among others:

Hansen, K. L., & Vanegas, J. (2006, June), A Guiding Vision, Road Map, And Principles For Researching And Teaching Sustainable Design And Construction Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1022

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015