A Systems Approach for Sustainability Assessment of Civil Infrastructure Projects


It is necessary to develop standardized methods and metrics that effectively and efficiently study, measure, and analyze the wide range of effects of the construction processes. The narrow focus of the currently available assessment methods does not address the technical, environmental, economic, social/cultural, and individual sustainability indicators adequately, nor the temporal, spatial, and behavioral aspects of sustainability. This paper utilized a systems approach that is based on the three novel benchmarks -- nature, work, and flow -- that previously were proposed by the second author. "Work" defines the socio-behavioral relationships among the construction products and the actors of the built environment. "Nature" focuses on the effects of the built process on the environment through studying the interaction between the actors, processes, and the end products within a host system. "Flow" identifies the changes within the community host systems and the effects of these changes on the natural and socio-economic settings. To this end, the authors applied this innovative framework to five different projects including a highway, streets, and drainage project; solar energy; wastewater treatment; and vertical construction. Results indicate that the proposed systems approach provides an improved holistic understanding of the environmental, social, and economic effects of these projects.

Meeting Name

Construction Research Congress 2014: Construction in a Global Network (2014: May 19-21, Atlanta, GA)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Research; Solar energy; Wastewater treatment, Built environment; Civil infrastructures; Construction process; Construction products; Standardized methods; Sustainability assessment; Sustainability indicators; Vertical constructions, Sustainable development

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2014