2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Integrating Economic and Environmental Sustainability for Undergraduate Education

Presented at Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Increasingly, engineers must approach problems considering economically viable, socially just, and environmentally sustainable solutions. This paper describes a new green engineering design course developed at California State University, Chico, which provides students with a sustainability framework to approach engineering problems considering the triple bottom (i.e., economic, social, environmental issues). Through a group project, students applied quantitative environmental and economic assessment tools (i.e., life cycle assessment software and life cycle cost analysis), decision-making strategies, and sensitivity analysis tools to evaluate real-world problems. Students’ (n=86) abilities to understand and apply key concepts in the course were evaluated by examining overall performance in the class and performance on group projects. The majority of students performed well in the class (average = 84%, standard deviation = 7%) and on the final group project report (average = 90%, standard deviation = 4%). Future versions of this course could be improved by introducing LCA software earlier in the curriculum and integrating this course as a pre-requisite or co-requisite to a senior capstone. By teaching students an innovative approach to the conventional evaluation-of-alternatives, students were able to propose designs that minimize environmental impacts (e.g., carbon footprint) and provide economically feasible solutions simultaneously. Consequently, this paper highlights a viable teaching model for other universities integrate sustainability into their curriculum.

  1. Dr. Pablo K. Cornejo California State University, Chico [biography]

The full paper will be available to logged in and registered conference attendees once the conference starts on June 24, 2017, and to all visitors after the conference ends on June 28, 2018

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