Engineering for Sustainable Development

Background Study

Sustainability construction involves an integrated strategy to construction that considers environmental, economical, technical, social as well as institutional concerns at every phase of construction. It helps to guarantee long term results of the house designs as well as ensuring lasting solutions in the supply of related infrastructures such as sanitation facilities, energy as well as water supply. The 21st century has witnessed great technological development.

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Whereas the 19th century was regarded as the era of industrialization, the 21st century is referred to as the generation of information technology as well as the era of globalization. The high growth of information technology has resulted in improved communication and integration of global economies. The concept of globalization has enabled multinational companies to expand their operations to foreign countries to augment their scale of production. Increased industrial productivity has led to immense consumption of petroleum which has subsequently increased the emission of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases are those gases that normally trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one example of greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide is produced naturally as well as from various human activities. For instance, carbon dioxide is emitted from burning fossil fuels. Examples of fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide after burning include firewood, oil, coal as well as methane. Nitrous oxide is another example of a greenhouse gas that is emitted from industries as well as from agricultural wastes. The emission of greenhouse gases is likely to increase in the future as a result of the continuous increase in global activities.

The fifth U.S. climate action report recorded that the emission of greenhouse gases increased with a rise of about 17% from 1990 to 2007. Similarly, during the same period, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased by 65%, while the U.S. population increased by 21%. This notwithstanding, the greenhouse emission entailed a great increase in carbon dioxide emission, which was about 21.8% in about 17 years. Nevertheless, the emission of other greenhouse gases was noted to decrease. For instance, methane emission decreased by 5% within the same period.

The soaring emissions of greenhouse gases have triggered increased atmospheric pollution. The pollution has involved the depletion of the ozone layer that prevents harmful radiations emitted by the sun from reaching us. The pollution of the atmosphere has equally caused excess heating that has triggered heavy evaporation and excessive rainfall that has been associated with great damages. The recent tsunami that destroyed a lot of properties and resulted in the deaths of thousands of people was largely attributed to atmospheric pollution (Dolores 3-24).

Contemporary society has realized the danger that accompanies excess emission of greenhouse gases. Currently, various bodies that deal with environmental issues have launched appropriate campaigns that focus on the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases. The campaigns support the adoption of alternative forms of energy that are more environmentally friendly. The need to transform production from the use of petroleum to the use of other alternative forms of energy has triggered a great controversy in many world economies.

Although many nations, as well as industries, have appreciated the idea of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases to preserve the atmosphere from pollution, the challenge lies in transforming the production as a result of the high cost that is associated with transforming the means of production. Many industries have invested a lot of money in building their industries which are tailored towards the use of fossil fuels. The change of this technology will involve great changes in the different levels of production in various industries.

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To transform technology, the change is predicted to involve a substantial amount of money. Also, the change of production is likely to affect the level of production negatively, especially at the initial stages of transformation. Any change in an organization’s methods of production is often noted to be accompanied by an initial decrease in the performance of the workforce. The poor performance results because of the workers being not conversant with the new methods or technologies that are introduced. Therefore, many industries fear the adoption of alternative forms of energy because of the fear of reduced production.

A reduction in production is likely to cause great losses because of revenue lost as a result of reduced production. Similarly, reduced production will greatly affect the market performance of these organizations since reduced production means that the firms affected will not be in a position to meet the production demand for their customers which may lead to customer dissatisfactions that can likely force some consumers opting to prefer substitute products from other firms.

However, despite, the great fear involved during the adoption of the new technologies that are more environmentally friendly, the change is inevitable as a result of the great damages that are associated with great consumption of petroleum that is highly pollutant. To concur with the set standards, all sectors of production are prone to change to reduce their rate of greenhouse gases emission. This means that production industries as well as other sectors of economies including the transportation sector have to change their technology from relying on fossil fuels, and adapt other forms of energies such as solar, wind, biogas among other alternative forms of energies.

Sustainability Demonstration Centre Scenario

Despite the great concern by the government to ensure the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation for the adoption of environmentally friendly methods of productions by all economies, their great concerns and campaigns are in most cases futile. Their efforts are not supported by the politicians as well as senior officials, who have greatly opposed the government’s efforts to make sure that all economies accept environmentally friendly production methods.

Ensuring the espousal of environmentally friendly production practices involves changing the current production methods that involve the technology that depends on fossil fuels as the main source of energy. The politicians, as well as the senior officials, have greatly frustrated the government’s efforts to ascertain that it changes its economies to adopt alternative forms energies. They argue that the government’s intention to change the current production technology to become environmentally friendly is not applicable.

The government has thus opted to set up a new Sustainability Demonstration Centre. This project is supposed to convince the politicians, senior officials as well as the general public that the concept of sustainability is real, achievable as well as sensible, and is, therefore, a sure way forward for public policy. The project will entail starting a Sustainability Demonstration Centre on the island of Inch Kenneth, off the west coast of Scotland. The center will be made accessible to the general public for education. The center is supposed to be designed in a manner to accommodate approximately 20 people. The 20 people are supposed to be accommodated in single rooms. The center is projected to include; a boathouse, a drying room for wet kit, outbuildings, chicken coops, workshop, and an administration officer.

Also, the center is tailored to incorporate refrigeration, cooking and washing facilities. The center aspires to ensure that the style of living reflects the quality of a Three Star Hotel. The center is supposed to possess communal areas for relaxing, lecture room. Two meeting rooms, a fitness room and a dining room that can accommodate approximately 15 people in one sitting. The island is known to experience wild as well as hostile weather with alternation of summer as well as very cold winters with high wind chill factors. Although the island does not possess the national grid electricity, the area is rich in other types of resources.

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An important element of the sustainability of a house is its ability to accommodate the user’s needs and its ability to efficiently withstand natural hazards as well as harsh climatic conditions. Well-designed houses are known to minimize environmental impacts as well as other risks, while at the same time meeting the user’s needs. The choice of the house solar, cooling as well as ventilation has a direct impact on housing efficiency and conservation of energy consumption.

The main house designs that are recommended include the ability of the house to adopt solutions that are environmentally sustainable and also energy efficient. The house design should also be resistant to natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods. Sustainable houses are flexible and easy to upgrade and expand. While designing the houses, it is imperative to consider building houses that are easy to maintain, demolish, reuse as well as recycle phases.

Source and Use of Building Materials

The materials that should be used for building the various structures in the center should be selected appropriately. While selecting materials for building, considering the cost of the materials to be used in the construction is very important. People should consider using locally available materials to cut down the high costs of raw materials. It is believed that the production of building materials around the construction site helps to cut down the cost of building materials as well as help in quality control. Moreover, it is advisable to use those building materials that are produced under environmentally acceptable methods. The use of dangerous materials such as asbestos should be avoided. The island of Inch Kenneth is rich in various natural resources that can be exploited to provide the necessary building materials.

To reflect the prevailing modern housing, the materials that should be used in the construction of the Sustainability Demonstration Centre should mainly be stones. The Island of Kenneth is known to be environmentally friendly and does not contain any compounds that can adversely compromise the quality of stones quarried from the region. Similarly, the project should use sand that is delivered from within the island to save on the cost of transporting the building materials.

Since the area under construction is near a big water body, necessary measures should be employed to find out whether any available materials can be recycled nearby. Given that such areas often experience tsunami incidents that lead to the destruction of properties, the project management should try to locate any tsunami debris that ranges from rocks, sands as well as concrete slabs to reuse it in the construction of the Sustainability Demonstration Centre. Timber is also an important construction material that is also easily reusable.

The project will use timber for roofing purposes. The timber used should be from hardwood trees that are also well treated and painted to ensure durability in the humid and highly pest inhibited region of the island of Kenneth in Scotland. In case the project opts to use the available stones that are present on the island, the management that foresees the accomplishment of the project should ensure the rehabilitation of the quarries from where the stones were extracted from. This can be done by refilling the open spaces that are left after the extraction of stones with soil and planting indigenous trees. The rehabilitation process will play an important role in educating the public on the importance of rehabilitating the areas from where they extract building materials as a measure to ensure sustainability.

The construction of the Sustainability Demonstration Centre can also opt to use the compressed earth blocks in the construction of the 20 rooms where people will be residing, instead of stones. Compressed earth blocks are prepared using soil which is slightly moisturized and then poured in steel press where it is compressed. The soil used to make earth blocks should be of good quality and should not contain any humus or organic materials that can decompose.

Apart from helping in making the blocks very stable, this will also ensure that the blocks do not contribute to an increase in the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere after the decomposition of the organic materials that may be present in the compressed earthen blocks. The compressed earthen blocks are important in the construction of the residential houses due to their good thermal insulations. The hostile hot summers, as well as very cold winters that are prevalent on the island of Kenneth, will require appropriate insulations to protect the occupants from experiencing extreme temperatures experienced during summer and winter.

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Also, the floor of the residential rooms should be fitted with the timber floor to insulate the rooms from excess cold during winters. Moreover, the roofing of houses is very important. The Sustainability Demonstration Centre should not adapt flat roofs since the island of Kenneth is a region that is highly prone to heavy rainfall. Flat roofs in such a rainfall prone area require regular maintenance, highly skilled workers as well as very good quality roofing materials.

The roofs of the buildings in the Sustainability Demonstration center will require to be insulated accordingly to shield them from extreme weather conditions in summer as well as during winter. Overhanging roofing should be adapted to make sure that the roofs protect the walls from being exposed to extreme rainfall and temperatures. The roofs should be well connected to walls to strengthen them against strong winds as well as to shield the walls against heavy downpour as well as extreme changes in climate. All the houses constructed should have glass windows to provide natural light. Similarly, the houses should have appropriate ventilation to facilitate cooling inside the houses during summers (Schneider 35).

Sources and Uses of Water

The source, as well as the use of water, is another very important aspect of sustainability to consider. The Sustainability Demonstration Centre can opt to use groundwater, surface water or rainwater. In case they opt to use fresh water from the river, the river should be tapped using the gravitational concept in mind which should then be directed to collection tanks where the water is treated and then supplied to the center via pipes. The water from the rivers can be supplemented by tapping the rainwater during the rainy seasons, which is collected from all the buildings and then stored in storage tanks, which is a low-cost option for accessing safe drinking water.

For this reason, the houses should be provided with roof gutters which enhances the collection and directs the rainwater into storage tanks. The water collected can then be purified through distillation. Solar distillation makes use of solar energy to provide energy for the distillation process. Distillation entails water being evaporated and then being cooled to separate it from dissolved compounds.

This process consumes a lot of energy and should only be used when the water collected from the rivers is identified as not safe for consumption even after being treated through chlorination. Similarly, the center can opt to purify the water collected from the nearby sea and purify it through the reverse-osmosis process that uses very fine filter membranes to separate pure water from dissolved salts. The process entails pressing the seawater against the natural osmotic pressure which requires energy from the solar system tapped from sun radiations.

Sources and management of Wastes

The waste from toilets as well as from domestic wastes should be collected and disposed of appropriately. For instance, the waste from toilets should be directed to septic tanks. The wastes from the kitchen, bathrooms as well as wastewater for laundry should be directed into soak pits.

Source and Uses of Energies

Sustainable energy systems are needed to offer energy that is required for lighting, cooking, heating, powering refrigerators as well as cooling the air or water. The need for contemporary society to cut down the rate of emissions of greenhouse gases has necessitated the need to shift from relying on fossil fuels to the adoption of alternative forms of energies such as solar, wind, bio-power as well as geothermal energy. The use of alternative forms of energy such as solar energy, biomass as well as wind energy in the center will greatly help to cut down the high costs that are involved with other forms of energy such as fossil fuels and electricity.

The houses in the center should be fitted with glass windows to provide natural lighting during the daytime. This will highly help in cutting down the rate of energy consumption in the center as a result of lighting purposes. The solar energy can be tapped using solar panels to provide electricity for lighting, distilling water and for powering the present electronic devices. The conventional solar panels are very efficient during the sunny days. However, under cloudy conditions; solar panels are only 5% efficient while thermomax solar tubes are 75% efficient.

For this reason, Thermomax solar tubes should be installed on the island of the Kenneth Sustainability Demonstration Centre as a result of the fluctuation of the weather in this region. This is because, during summer, the region is sunny, while in winter the region is very cold and cloudy. So thermomax is the best option to install to make sure it can heat water in all seasons. It is estimated that every person requires 1 squire meter of the south-facing panel and approximately 100 liters of overnight insulated water in the storage tanks.

Therefore, the center will require about 20metres squire of collectors tubes and 2000 liters of insulated tanks to store water overnight. The Sustainable Demonstration facility is likely to consume approximately 300 KWh per month for lighting as well as powering electronics. By dividing 300KWh by 30 days it indicates that the facility will require 10KWh daily. By multiplying the 10 KWh by a factor of 1.25 for the power losses due to resistance will give 12.5KWh.

The Kilowatts will require to be expressed in terms of watts in hours to determine the solar panels required (12.5×1000=1200 watt-hour). For instance, if the solar panels that are rated at 500 watts are to be installed in the center and approximate that the center receives sunlight for 5 hours. Then one solar panel will provide 2500 watt h of electricity. Thus, the number of solar panels that are needed in the center will be given by dividing the Power Requirement in the center by the power provided by one panel. That is 12500/ 2500 which indicates that 5 solar panels that are rated at 500 watts will be required.

Another form of energy that can be harnessed to supplement energy requirements in the center is biogas (Patterson par. 5-10). Biogas refers to a mixture of a variety of gas components generated from anaerobic digestion of organic matter. The major constituent of such a reaction is methane gas. In many cases, biogas can be used for illuminating our homes, preparation of food, heating, as well as fuel for some uniquely modified engines for mechanical and electrical power production. One cubic meter of biogas can generate up to 5200 Kcal of energy.

To make sure that the biogas system fitted is efficient to cook for all the residents in the center, a burner that uses 200 liters of biogas per hour should be installed. Other than the production of biogas, the biogas plants also generate waste matter that is used to produce superior quality organic fertilizer. Biogas technology has been introduced in many parts of the world as an alternative source of energy as a result of the increased cost of living attributed to the increased cost of fuel.

In many cases, biogas is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method for treating manure among other solid waste. The production of biogas is mostly employed in farms that handle large amounts of manure in the form of liquid, slurry or semi-solid waste. The biogas systems necessitate supervision accountability and a financial venture during the initial stages but once established, the operational as well as the maintenance costs are minimal.

The Sustainability Demonstration Center on the island of Kenneth digests human wastes using special facilities referred to as digesters to produce biogas for cooking. The island of Kenneth is often very windy. The wind energy will also be harnessed to supplement the energy requirements in the Sustainable Demonstration Centre that will be established there. The adoption of alternative forms of energies will help to preserve natural resources such as coal, gas as well as oil from depletion as well as ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Equally, the use of alternative forms of energy will help to save a lot of money since they are usually much cheaper as compared to electricity and fossil fuels (Schneider 35-39).

Spatial Arrangement and Appearance

Sustainability construction looks beyond how houses are built, to consider how the houses, infrastructures and green spaces are incorporated. This is important in enhancing biodiversity, reduction of energy consumptions as well as in the improvement of the overall quality of life. All the houses in the Sustainability Demonstration Centre will be constructed next to each other to cut down the costs of establishing as well as running the center. By building the various sections of the center close together, they will be in a position to share some facilities such as the septic tank, sources of water as well as sources of energy.


The establishment of the Sustainability Demonstration Center in Kenneth Island will help to convince the politicians, senior officials as well as the general public on the importance of enacting appropriate policies. Enacting policies that support sustainable constructions will help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases considerably.

Works Cited

Dolores, Rachel. “Sustainable Building Guideline for South-East Asia.” UNEP. 2011. Web.

Patterson, John. “Solar Water Basics.” Affordable Solar. Home power magazine. 2011. Web.

Schneider, Claudia. “Geo-engineering the Climate”. The Royal Science, 2009.

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