Sustainability Archives - Infrastructure Digest

The Greening of Civil Infrastructure

Similar progress is being made by manufacturers such as Unilever, a global brand leader in food, personal healthcare and other consumer products. In 2013, 75 percent of the company’s manufacturing sites brought their delivery of nonhazardous waste to landfills down to zero. Included among Unilever’s wide array of global waste recovery, recycle and reuse initiatives is the use of overflow plant sludge in prefabricated construction products and as an alternative raw material in cement production.

Increasingly, the waste generated from the manufacturing processes of companies like these and others is also finding its way into major infrastructure projects throughout the nation. The byproducts from manufacturing, as well as other industrial processes such as energy generation, offer a valuable resource for use in civil infrastructure.

Why should you read this? May create some reuse opportunities for you. ASTM, February 2015


VIDEO: Bill Gates drinks processed wastewater

“Microsoft founder Bill Gates may be known for trying to reinvent the common toilet but now he’s setting out to reinvent the wastewater treatment plant.

This week he was seen sipping a glass of drinking water that only five minutes previously was human wastewater.

The technology used to generate the potable water is called the Omniprocessor, designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle.”

Why should you read this? Some headlines just cannot be resisted. Water World, January 2014


A California Agency Creates A Brand For Its Recycled Water, Biogas Energy And Pelletized Biosolids

“Many clean-water plants create brand names for their biosolids. The Encina Wastewater Authority takes the concept further.

Its Class A biosolids pellets go to market under the PureGreen brand. Its electric power and heat from biogas, PureEnergy. Its recycled water, PureWater. Even staff resources and information get a brand name: PureKnowledge.

For the agency, headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., the brands emphasize that its 67 team members are devoted to more than protecting the Pacific Ocean from pollution. The 40.5 mgd (design) Encina Water Pollution Control Facility recycles, in one way or another, nearly half its 23 mgd average flow.”

Why should you read this? Maybe it will work for you? Treatment Plant Operator, December 2014


Warm-mix asphalt use up 533% since 2009

“Asphalt pavement mixes have grown significantly more sustainable over the past five years thanks to the increased use of recycled materials and energy-saving warm-mix technologies.

According to the latest survey of asphalt mix producers conducted by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 106.4 million tons of warm-mix asphalt — nearly a third of all asphalt pavement mix production — was used during the 2013 construction season. This marks a greater than 533 percent increase in the use of warm mix since 2009, the first year the survey was conducted.

Warm-mix asphalt is produced with a range of technologies that reduce the production and placement temperature of asphalt pavement mixtures. A variety of environmental, worker safety, and construction benefits have been realized through the adoption of warm-mix asphalt.

“Innovation is an important principle for the asphalt pavement industry. The use of warm-mix technologies, as well as recycled materials, helps us improve both the quality and sustainability of asphalt pavements,” said Bill Ensor, NAPA 2014 Chairman and President of Maryland Paving Inc. “These latest survey results reveal just how cool and green today’s asphalt pavements are, but we continue to seek greater use and adoption of these technologies.””

Why should you read this? 553% increase? Somebody’s interested in warm-mix asphalt. Public Works, December 2014


“Urban Metabolism” Could Beat “Sustainability” in a Buzzword Contest

“In the past two years, Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology has published a special issue devoted to “urban metabolism for the urban century” and a paper on “an urban metabolism approach to Los Angeles.” The phrase has also turned up in books such as Sustainable Urban Metabolism, published in 2013 by MIT Press.

Clearly, certain precincts of academia are abuzz about this concept. And if still another recent paper — “Mainstreaming Urban Metabolism” — has any sway, the term could become as familiar in urban circles as “resilience” and “Vision Zero.” But what exactly does it mean? For the next time you encounter it — when you read about it in a planning journal, or an urban-nerd friend mentions it at a cocktail party — here’s a cheat sheet.”

Why should you read this? Know your buzzwords! Next City, December 2014


Utility Cuts Water Loss

“With some 50 different pressure zones in its service area, the Water Department is constantly dealing with pumping, valving and storage issues as it strives to deliver a reliable stream of high-quality water to its 56,000 customers on a daily basis.

Related: From the Editor: Fixing the Leaks

“Elevation is always a problem here,” says Ivan Thomas, the Water Department’s operations manager. “The pressures amplify water loss. We are looking at ways of reducing pressures [which can reach 400 psi in some places along the system] and are being proactive.”

Through a comprehensive team approach – including a water loss audit program and departmentwide understanding and acceptance of the goals – Asheville has cut those losses from 6 million gallons and approximately $3,600 of lost revenue a day in 2012, to 5.4 million gallons and $2,792 a day in 2014.”

Why should you read this? Non-revenue water is a big problem for most water departments, and Asheville NC was able to make a big reduction and establish some ‘best practices’ that may be new for you. Municipal Sewer & Water, January 2015


The Risks of Cheap Water

“But the proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation’s wanton consumption of water: its price.

“Most water problems are readily addressed with innovation,” said David G. Victor of the University of California, San Diego. “Getting the water price right to signal scarcity is crucially important.””

Why should you read this article? Water scarcity is real, and it seems a little weird to resist linking scarcity to cost. This is an opinion piece that you will want to read, possibly to agree, possibly to refute… New York Times, October 2014


Reduce, reuse, recycle: Turning wastewater into energy

“The False Creek Energy Centre in Vancouver, B.C., is the first application of localized sewer heat recovery in North America — and the only one to use untreated sewage. For about two years, the plant has provided hot water and heating for the Neighborhood Energy Utility (NEU) in Vancouver, a city of about 650,000.

The $30 million False Creek Energy Centre services a portion of the city seeing significant new building development — about 2.7 million square feet, which is expected to grow to about 7 million square feet.

The plant supplies 100 percent of the heating and hot water demand — 70 percent from sewage heat recovery and 30 percent from natural gas boilers, according to Chris Baber, Vancouver’s NEU manager.”

Why should you read this? It’s a successful, locally popular biomass facility, and a wastewater treatment plant. Fascinating. TPO, January 2013


Japan Orders Inspections After Fatal Tunnel Collapse

“Revelations that aging bolts and rods may have led to the devastating highway tunnel collapse that claimed at least nine lives in Japan over the weekend has sparked nationwide anxiety over the safety of decades-old infrastructure.

Thus far, a total of nine bodies have been pulled out from the debris of a fallen highway tunnel, built in the 1970s, the Yamanashi prefecture police said on Monday.”

Why should you read this? Japan’s not the only country with aging infrastructure… is this a preview of the coming global situation? Includes video and slideshow. Wall Street Journal (blog), December 2012


Contractors Fuel Savings With Biodiesel

“Biodiesel is quickly becoming more than a fad as contractors discover the benefits and develop experience with this alternative fuel source. Snohomish, Washington-based Earthwise Excavation has been an innovator in the use of biodiesel. This commercial and residential excavation company has been powering its entire fleet — including excavators, mini-excavators, skid-steer loaders, a dozer, a dump truck and a lowboy truck — with biodiesel since the 1990s.”

Why should you read this? Maybe you buy a lot of diesel? FCP, September 2012


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