Materials, Structures, and Systems (SIMSS) Design Approach
The Sustainable Integrated Materials, Structures, and Systems (SIMSS)
design approach guides all research within this research group.
Each research focus or project fits within this broad
philosophy for the design, operation, and management of sustainable
engineered systems. In the sustainable built environment
specifically, this includes the design of new building materials,
building systems, neighborhoods, and infrastructure networks such as
transportation, drinking and wastewater, telecommunications, and energy.
The SIMSS design approach recognizes the interdependencies between
materials design, structural engineering, and system management, along
impacts each of these disciplines has on achieving more sustainable
systems. The impacts are quantified through life cycle
assessment (LCA) techniques. Design changes at any scale
(materials, structure, or system) have non-linear effects on overall
sustainable performance. SIMSS quantifies these effects and
enables comprehensive design for more sustainable built environments
other societal systems.
|The introduction of new, designable
composites allows for the introduction of more sustainable materials
throughout the built environment. This work has focused on the
development of more sustainable cement-based composites through the
introduction of industrial waste streams into high performance fiber
reinforced cementitious composites (HPFRCCs) which undergo
strain-hardening under uniaxial tension. Engineered Cementitious
Composites (ECC) are one HPFRCC that has shown remarkable promise for
use in more sustainable infrastructure systems and buildings due to its
unique tensile capabilities (see below) and micromechanics based design
At the materials
engineering stage, these research focuses on the development of new
materials that judiciously incorporate industrial waste streams or
utilize low impact processing techniques without jeopardizing the
sustainable performance of the system over its entire life cycle.
Through application of SIMSS, this materials design is informed by life
cycle assessment results to create materials that foster sustainable
system performance rather a green material.
can be found in Lepech et al (2008).
Structure Design & Construction Practices
|Working with structural
engineering researchers, this effort looks at the roles that structural
engineers serve in meeting the overarching design goal of sustainable
system performance. Focusing on the appropriate selection of
materials, engineering of structural systems, and construction of
buildings that promote lower life cycle impacts
through greater durability, improved hazard characterization and
mitigation, building information models (BIMs), and reuse of structural
components, the application of LCA techniques in performance-based
design for sustainable built environments is an emerging field in
Such design theory has
been demonstrated for more sustainable freeway
bridge structures that utilize green ECC materials to replace failing
expansion joints thereby reducing bridge maintenance events and
life cycle energy consumed in construction-related traffic congestion.
More recently this
work has been extended to the design of sustainable pavement overlays
and other pavement structures.
can be found in Lepech et al
|With over 90% of building life cycle
impacts coming from the use phase, operating and maintaining buildings
and infrastructure systems in ways that leverage new sustainable
materials and structural designs is a strong research component of the
SIMSS design approach. This research focuses on the development
of new life cycle modeling, optimization, and visualization techniques
to enable sustainable operation and management of complex built
environments and infrastructure systems.
This work focuses on the
integration of efficient computational algorithms for system
optimization, the use of sensor networks for dynamic management of
sustainable building systems, and new data visualization tools for
communicating complex sustainability impacts to a broad set of
stakeholders involved with the building life cycle from design through
end of life.
More information can be
found in Zhang et al (2008).
|LCA is the analytic basis for
performance-based sustainability design. Without the ability to
correctly measure the impacts of design and operation changes, design
of a sustainable built environment remains impossible. This
research effort is integral to each activity of the research
group. This work includes the development of new life cycle data
inventories, life cycle impact assessment techniques, and tools for
constructing life cycle models.
One facet of this
research focuses on improved valuation of ecosystem services to enable
more efficient accounting of environmental and social impacts in
More information on these topics will be in publication soon.