Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability
Latest articles in this journal
Published: 26 October 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac333a
Dams, reservoirs, and other water management infrastructure provide benefits, but can also have negative impacts. Dam construction and removal affects progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals at local to global scales. Yet, globally-consistent information on the location and characteristics of these structures are lacking, with information often highly localised, fragmented, or inaccessible. A freely available, curated, consistent, and regularly updated global database of existing dams and other instream infrastructure is needed along with open access tools to support research, decision-making and management needs. Here we introduce the Global Dam Watch (GDW) initiative (www.globaldamwatch.org) whose objectives are: (a) advancing recent efforts to develop a single, globally consistent dam and instream barrier data product for global-scale analyses (the GDW database); (b) bringing together the increasingly numerous global, regional and local dam and instream barrier datasets in a directory of databases (the GDW directory); (c) building tools for the visualisation of dam and instream barrier data and for analyses in support of policy and decision making (the GDW knowledge-base) and (d) advancing earth observation and geographical information system (GIS) techniques to map a wider range of instream structures and their properties. Our focus is on all types of anthropogenic instream barriers, though we have started by prioritizing major reservoir dams and run-of-river barriers, for which more information is available. Our goal is to facilitate national-scale, basin-scale and global-scale mapping, analyses and understanding of all instream barriers, their impacts and their role in sustainable development through the provision of publicly accessible information and tools. We invite input and partnerships across sectors to strengthen GDW's utility and relevance for all, help define database content and knowledge-base tools, and generally expand the reach of GDW as a global hub of impartial academic expertise and policy information regarding dams and other instream barriers.
Published: 25 October 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac3321
Retrofitting existing buildings is critical for meeting global and institutional net-zero CO₂ emissions goals. Prominent energy and climate policy strategies are aiming to increase notoriously low retrofitting rates by triggering energy efficient and/or decarbonized real estate investments. Although many real estate assets are owned by large-scale investors, the interplay of their retrofit decision-making and policies are under researched. Relying on interviews with four major owner types, industry experts, and policymakers, we unpack the “black box” of retrofit investment and demonstrate how large-scale investors can transform retrofit decision-making processes to meet emissions goals. We show that to accelerate deep retrofits, policymakers should focus on integrated policy mixes, and consider the cross-impacts of policy instruments from various domains on the value-driven retrofitting decision. Instruments indirectly influencing retrofits, such as those targeting affordability or densification, represent a critical avenue for improving the retrofitting policy mix by moving away from single instruments directly targeting energy or emissions aspects. This policy mix should specifically target asset management budgetary decisions, which mainly drive investment planning relevant for deep retrofits.
Published: 15 October 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac3017
In rural sub-Saharan Africa, the global poverty hotspot, smallholder farmers account for 80% of agricultural production, with 90% of cropland being exclusively rainfed. A key obstacle to rural development and poverty elimination is the lack of electricity access: less than one in three dwellers have electricity at home. The main barrier to rural electrification is the capital-intensiveness of energy supply infrastructure among sparse communities with low demand density and insecurity of payment. While public governments have largely been unable to channel the required resources, private players are often unwilling to pursue risky and unprofitable household electrification programs. In this context, this perspective argues that the paradigm of rural electrification should be centred around an integrated approach aiming at increasing agricultural productivity and profitability. These bear the necessary potential to enable local income generation and thus also provide an incentive for private energy investment, including in the residential sector. A framework for the integrated approach is proposed and the crucial synergetic role of data modelling and business and policy research to pursue this paradigm is discussed.
Published: 8 October 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability, Volume 1; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac2784
Published: 29 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac2b10
Food e-commerce has seen significant growth over the past decade that accelerated after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last-mile transportation and logistics are widely considered the most expensive and least efficient portion of the supply chain and have multiple important energy trade-offs such as cargo capacity and consumer density. Last-mile transportation energy use in rural areas is underrepresented in the literature. This study proposes a hybrid agent-based and discrete event model framework for evaluating the last-mile transportation energy use of van- and car-based food delivery services in a rural community, based on meal-kit and grocery delivery operations, respectively. This framework quantifies last-mile energy use in rural areas, and is demonstrated here using a neighborhood outside of Austin, TX as an analytical testbed. The study focuses on the effects of consumer density, cargo limitations, and vehicle speed. For the conditions examined with this framework, diesel delivery vans use more total energy than passenger cars for the same trip, though a van delivering four orders uses less energy per-order than a car delivering one order. However, there are trade-offs between vehicle type and mileage, cargo capacity, route density, and speed that are particularly important for delivery services operating in rural areas. This framework can be used by service providers to assess route-specific trade-offs for each vehicle and gauge which is preferable for given operating conditions or to evaluate the energy, and thus also cost, impact of expanding their services to rural areas.
Published: 17 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac27bd
We present a research framework that integrates native subsoil performance and surface retrofitting into coordinated green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) planning. This framework provides communities a strategy to move beyond opportunistic GSI, which can be limited to capturing marginal amounts of stormwater, toward more impactful, coordinated GSI planning that restores the lost hydrologic functioning of the pre-development landscape. We create this framework by establishing critical performance-based relationships among four variables: 1) saturated hydraulic conductivity of native subsoils (~upper 2 m below urban compaction and fill); 2) GSI design depth for both rain gardens and permeable pavement (in increments of 6" from 12-30" for planted and paved GSI); 3) loading ratio, defined as the ratio of GSI retrofit area to upstream impervious surface runoff area (from 1:2 to 1:5 for planted GSI; and 1:1 and direct infiltration for paved GSI); and 4) design storms (rainfall quantity up to 5-inches over 2-hr and 24-hr durations). We model the four variables using GSI models (built in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Storm Water Management Model (EPA-SWMM)) and reliability analysis, a risk-assessment method adapted to characterize the reliability of GSI in response to varying stormwater runoff loading. The outcome of the modeling is a set of fragility curves and design prototypes, adjustable to catchment and sub-catchment scales, to assist municipalities in early funding and investment decisions to retrofit urbanized land through GSI. We also share two piloted applications in which we use the research framework within the Chicago-Calumet region in Illinois, USA, to conduct site-specific subsoil sampling and determinations of saturated hydraulic conductivity and to develop urban-scale GSI retrofit scenarios. Our framework is transferable to other urban regions, and particularly useful where a lack of integrating native subsoil performance into GSI design hinders decision-making, coordinated GSI planning at scale, and achieving high runoff reduction targets.
Published: 15 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac26d1
Even in advanced economies, underperforming infrastructure is a persistent rural development challenge, with the case of non-compliant small drinking water systems (SDWSs) especially concerning because of the importance of safe drinking water to human health. While technical and financial deficits are known contributors to SDWS underperformance in rural settings, the role of local cultural and social context in water governance are less clear. The need for interoperable concepts that help explain how local contextual factors influence rural water governance and operation motivates this study. Drawing on insights from community resilience and critical infrastructure scholarship, this study draws attention to a previously overlooked dimension of local infrastructure governance: social memory. Archival research and 25 semi-structured interviews with experts and local stakeholders inform the paper's reconstruction of the 100-year history of a SDWS in rural Montana, USA and the contemporary social memory it has generated. The study finds that social memory acts as a medium through which the lived experience of infrastructure influences priorities and values about its governance, especially in the context of small towns. Three major themes in the dynamics of social memory of infrastructure are described, including longevity, aesthetic and material qualities, and articulation with economic trajectories. In addition to establishing social memory as an effective conceptualization of the generative influence of infrastructure in water governance at the local scale, the paper has implications for policy; specifically, the observation that in addition to financial and technical capacity, historical experience is a powerful driver of infrastructure governance and outcomes such as underperformance.
Published: 6 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability, Volume 1; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac241e
Saudi Arabia, like many other developing countries, has had extensive experience with rapid urbanisation and infrastructure expansion, especially in the area of buildings. Buildings play an even bigger part, accounting for roughly 80% of total national electricity consumption. Forecasts indicate that domestic energy consumption will rise at a rate of 4 to 5% annually by2030, based on current local energy consumption patterns. A significant portion of this energy consumption growth results from the inefficient use of energy, and absence of coordinated enforcement and stakeholder engagement. This paper presents results of a study performed to propose potential energy-saving and CO₂ reduction techniques for residential buildings in hot climates, by critically examining an existing and recent building types. A model was designed using computer-based simulation software, DesignBuilder (DB), and the energy performance was then validated against the actual collected data. Building related parameters that make the construction systems behave differently in terms of energy efficiency were analysed. Additional simulations were run with the chosen building's shape, fabric, and user behaviour. Thermal insulation in the walls and roof can save about 45% in overall energy consumption, and when combined with other energy efficiency measures (EEMs), a substantial reduction of 67% can be achieved, according to the findings. In the residential sector, improvements in building energy efficiency were obtained from the perspectives of both technological capacity and initiative energy conservation consciousness.
Published: 1 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability, Volume 1; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac1c5e
Published: 1 September 2021
Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability, Volume 1; https://doi.org/10.1088/2634-4505/ac1242