Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Integration of Environmental Sustainability and Decision Making: Case Studies of Civil Infrastructure

Sussan Moussavi, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


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 to provide industry practitioners with suggestions for how they can improve a WWTP’s sustainability. Next, the life cycle environmental impacts of resilience and recovery infrastructure for case study WWTPs affected by flooding were quantified and compared. Economic and social tradeoffs of resilient infrastructure were considered as well, to highlight which factors drive decision making related to resilience for design engineers, funding agencies, and community leaders. In addition, the life cycle environmental impacts of a case study renewable energy system were quantified, and social tradeoffs were identified. The results of this study emphasize the potential benefits, beyond costs, of novel renewable energy designs, which is important to note as the renewable energy sector continues to grow. Next, stakeholder discussions were used to identify barriers and benefits of implementing irrigation lagoons. Testimonial videos and guidance documents were developed to help improve the information exchange between relevant stakeholders that are interested in irrigation lagoon systems. 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.

Subject Area

Environmental engineering|Civil engineering|Sustainability|Alternative Energy

Recommended Citation

Moussavi, Sussan, "Integration of Environmental Sustainability and Decision Making: Case Studies of Civil Infrastructure" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30568853.