Documentation:Open Case Studies/Civil Engineering A/Template

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Urban Evolution & UBC Campus

Goals

Learning Objectives/case study goals

  • Develop an appreciation of the systems approach to sustainable design
  • Develop a working definition for sustainability
  • Be able to explain the integrated design approach
  • Identify concepts, projects, features on UBC campus that relate to sustainable urban planning concepts
  • Evaluate UBC campus infrastructure in the context of sustainable urban planning (infrastructure, planning, policies)
  • Provide recommendations to UBC for sustainable campus planning (infrastructure, planning, policies)

Introduction

In design, a typical approach is to simplify the problem, breaking complex reality/problems down into smaller parts that we can understand more easily and describe with models. This can be a necessary approach. However, what happens, if we miss important relations or variables? It can lead to sub-optimizations or even unintended negative impacts. Systems thinking aims to consider all relevant relations and variables. Hence, it has become more and more apparent that sustainability cannot be achieved through optimization of one object or element of a system, but that sustainability is rather a property of a system.[1] An introduction to this idea is provided by Eva Gladek in the following TED talk:

For sustainable planning or design, an integrated approach is required that considers systems-thinking including life cycle understanding and is a process that requires experts from different disciplines working together. Ann example of a framework for sustainable, integrated design and planning is “Symbiosis in Design” (SiD). Sustainable design and planning using SiD is based on the following definition of Sustainability that is being built on the three core components of equity, resiliency and autonomy: “Sustainability is a state of a complex, dynamic system. In this state a system can continue to flourish without leading to its internal collapse or requiring inputs from outside its defined system boundaries.

Applied to our civilization, this state is consistent with an equitable and healthy society, as well as thriving ecosystems and a beautiful planet.” [2]

Resources

An introduction to SID. can be found here: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Open_Case_Studies/CIVL/Resources.

An important tool within the SID framework is ELSIA, which is briefly described on the following website: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Open_Case_Studies/CIVL/Resources.

Case Studies & lessons learned – sustainable urban development

The “Sustainable Urban Districts 2015 Global Review – Strategies to Accelerate Sustainable Urban Development” [1] presents 11 sustainable urban districts worldwide and presents the main lessons learned from evaluating those districts. A summary of the lessons learned (adopted from [1]):

Difference between traditional and sustainable urban development:

  • Sustainable development is more ambitious than traditional planning and goes beyond design, construction and marketing of property and creates resilient, social just, and environmentally responsible communities.
  • Adding sustainability goals changes the way stakeholders work and interact within the supply chains and also impacts business models.
  • Sustainable planning leads to a more holistic approach that focuses on
    • resources and the environment,
    • community well-being,
    • economic resiliency,

and includes material aspects such as CO2 emissions, energy use, renewable energy and material sourcing, conservation of ecosystems and species, contribution to local culture as well as catering to happy healthy living.
Exemplary approaches are “mixed use neighborhoods” and “building resiliency”.
Mixed use neighborhoods are to promote local employment, entrepreneurship, leisure, pleasant living and social involvement. This approach results in less need for transportation, promotes local economy, adds variety and overall creates an attractive and lively neighborhood. Mixed neighborhoods are more sustainable by promoting lifestyle change and being more resilient.
Building resiliency considers the traditional measure of a project in terms of market value being higher than the investment. However, beyond this measure it involves a more inclusive value proposition including social, cultural and natural values. A key aspect of building resiliency is to include (future) occupants in the planning. The project does not stop when buildings are delivered, but residence keep shaping the development of the community.

  • Higher performance standards:
    • Long term financial performance
    • Sector driven positive impact
    • Combining comfortable and affordable
    • Long term performance focus
  • “Business models that focus on performance criteria in the use phase allow projects to distribute this respon- sibility and reach the desired performance. Maintaining high

performance levels is particularly supported when investment decisions are based on total cost of ownership, as opposed to direct return on investment. These business models enable long-term involvement of developers and suppliers.” [1]

Strategies for sustainable development

Framing the Problem

Planning & optimization on a system’s scale that is too small leads to sub-optimization and unintended negative impact elsewhere

Historical Context

  • How the problem developed, similar or related historical problems

Implications

Political

  • What is the role of policy making for (a shift towards) sustainable urban planning?

Economic

  • Sustainable city planning as several economic implications. The economic evaluation and economic goals go beyond those of traditional urban planning and real estate development.

Social/Cultural

  • The maybe biggest implications does sustainable urban planning have regarding social & cultural aspects. It is intended to develop an environment to promote lifestyle change towards more sustainable habits of residence. It also focuses strongly on human well-being and overall happiness.

References

  • Additional resources

What would a Civil Engineer do?

  • Respond to these questions: How would a civil engineer, approach responding to the problem outlined in this case study, and what are some responses they might offer?
  • What elements of the case would they be most likely to focus on and why?
  • What kinds of questions would they ask?
  • What kinds of disciplinary approaches or methodology might they use?
  • In answering these questions, draw from existing literature from this discipline where possible, considering especially how similar problems have been approached.

Teaching Resources

  • How might an instructor in philosophy incorporate this case study into their course readings, discussions, and assignments?

What would an XX Do?

  • Respond to these questions: How would an XX, approach responding to the problem outlined in this case study, and what are some responses they might offer?
  • What elements of the case would they be most likely to focus on and why?
  • What kinds of questions would they ask?
  • What kinds of disciplinary approaches or methodology might they use?
  • In answering these questions, draw from existing literature from this discipline where possible, considering especially how similar problems have been approached.

Teaching Resources

  • How might an instructor in XX incorporate this case study into their course readings, discussions, and assignments?