Civil and Environmental Engineering


First Advisor

Bruce Dvorak

Second Advisor

Philip Barutha

Date of this Version


Document Type



Moussavi, S. (2023). "Integration of Environmental Sustainability and Decision Making: Case Studies of Civil Infrastructure." Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Civil Engineering (Environmental Engineering), Under the Supervision of Professors Bruce Dvorak and Philip Barutha. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2023.

Copyright © 2023 Sussan Moussavi


Sustainable development is important in the planning and design of critical civil infrastructure systems. However, decision making related to these systems currently lacks meaningful sustainability considerations. To fill this gap, this research explores the life cycle impacts of wastewater and energy infrastructure using case studies, life cycle assessment methodologies, and stakeholder discussions. Environmental and economic impacts, which are more commonly quantified, as well as more difficult to quantify societal factors, are explored. The goal of this research is to help inform decision making and facilitate the consideration of the three pillars of sustainability (e.g., economic, environmental, and social) during the planning and design stages for critical civil infrastructure systems. The life cycle environmental impacts of construction and operations of small mechanical wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) case studies were quantified. Next, the life cycle environmental impacts of resilience and recovery infrastructure for WWTPs affected by flooding were quantified and compared. Economic and social tradeoffs of resilient infrastructure were considered as well. In addition, the life cycle environmental impacts of a case study renewable energy system were quantified, and social tradeoffs were identified. Next, stakeholder discussions were used to identify barriers and benefits of implementing irrigation lagoons. Lastly, a literature review was conducted to explore the current status of life cycle sustainability assessments of critical civil infrastructure systems to encourage stakeholders to address all three pillars of sustainability in decision making processes.

Advisors: Bruce I. Dvorak and Philip J. Barutha