Managing Sustainability Assessment of Civil Infrastructure Projects using Work, Nature, and Flow


The assessment tools available to study the sustainability of the construction processes are limited in their approach and lacking in their content. This can be attributed, for example, to various factors, including (1) differences among the actors within the construction industry; (2) fragmentation of the construction industry and those whom it serves; and (3) regionalism. This paper develops three innovative system-based benchmarks to assess civil infrastructure projects; namely, work, nature, and flow. To this end, work defines the sociobehavioral 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 construction actors, their associated processes, and the end products within their host systems; and flow identifies the overall system changes within the community host systems and the effects of these changes on the natural environment and the socioeconomic setting that encompasses the project. Also, this paper tests and evaluates the work and nature benchmarks using two different types of civil infrastructure projects through a three-step methodology comprising survey development, data collection, and analysis. This process provides an improved understanding of the environmental, social, and economic effects of these projects from a systems perspective. Finally, the paper provides a brief overview of the future modeling and simulation activities required to assess the overall community system change using the flow benchmark.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Computer simulation; Construction industry; Management, Built environment; Civil infrastructures; Community system; Construction process; Construction products; Natural environments; Survey development; Sustainability assessment, Sustainable development

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0742-597X; 1943-5479

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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

Publication Date

01 Sep 2014