• Improving cities by using the notion of “urban metabolism”

    As is the case with organisms, cities need energy, water, and nutrients, and they need to dispose of wastes and byproducts in ways which are viable and sustainable over the long run. This concept of “urban metabolism” is a model for looking systematically at the resources that flow into cities and the wastes and emissions that flow out from them in order better to understand the environmental impacts of cities and to highlight opportunities for efficiencies, improvements, and transformation.

  • The humble jute serves as a sustainable reinforcement for concrete

    Fashionable people may turn up their noses at jute, the cheap fiber used to make burlap, gunny sacks, twine, and other common products, but new research is enhancing jute’s appeal as an inexpensive, sustainable reinforcement for mortar and concrete.

  • 2002 Alaska earthquake helped set standards for buildings, bridges

    The Denali 7.9 earthquake that hit Alaska in 2002 was the largest to hit the United States in more than 150 years, and the strongest ever recorded in Alaska; no one was killed and only a few people were injured; the only severe damage the earthquake caused was to a few highways, but the damage was not significant enough to close them; the earthquake set new national standards for building bridges as well as giving seismologists a better understanding of how earthquakes affect frozen ground

  • Cooler pavement materials could increase energy consumption in surrounding buildings

    A push to replace old, heat-trapping paving materials with new, cooler materials could actually lead to higher electricity bills for surrounding buildings; the new paving materials are designed to lower the overall temperature of the areas where they are used

  • Building material of millennium: Autoclave Aerated Concrete

    Although widespread rebuilding in the hard-hit New York metro region from Hurricane Sandy has not yet begun, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) scientists say when the hammers start swinging, it is time to look at autoclaved aerated concrete; the material, best known as AAC, has been heralded as the building material of the new millennium

  • States, localities to assume more responsibilities for rebuilding U.S. aging infrastructure

    Infrastructure in the United States is in bad shape; Maryland needs more than $100 million a year for its bridges; Virginia needs $125 million per year for roads that need repaving; Washington’s failure to create a long-term funding plan to repair the nation’s infrastructure is forcing state and local governments to fill the void in federal funding

  • Improving high-speed rail ties against freezing, thawing conditions

    Research project is helping high-speed rail systems handle the stress of freezing and thawing weather conditions; the 3-year study looks at the freeze-thaw durability of concrete railroad ties; the research is essential to developing safe and durable high-speed rail systems

  • Hurricanes will test Florida buildings, built under new, post-Wilma building codes

    In 2005 Hurricane Wilma was responsible for five deaths and millions of dollars worth of damage in Florida; building codes in the state were updated, and experts predict that these new buildings, most of which were designed with wind-tunnel testing, should perform well in all but the most severe conditions

  • Assessing bridge resilience

    Across the United States, more than 600,000 bridges link travelers to millions of roadway miles, forming a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure; because bridges are typically more vulnerable than roadways to damage caused by natural and man-made hazards, they are also of interest to DHS, which funds cutting-edge research in various aspects of structural integrity testing and blast-resistant structural design

  • Analyzing the sound of rain falling on a bridge reveals bridge’s health, stability

    Engineers have found that by listening to how a highway bridge sings in the rain, they can determine serious flaws in the structure; employing a method called impact-echo testing, engineers can diagnose the health of a bridge’s deck based on the acoustic footprint produced by a little bit of water

  • Experts trying to determine cause of a giant Louisiana sinkhole

    The earth near Bayou Corne, Louisiana opened on 2 August: a 300-foot-wide sinkhole, with depth varying between 50 and 300 feet, suddenly opened up in an area, and the authorities have been trying to determine whether the sinkhole was caused by the collapse of an abandoned brine mining cavern along the margin of the Napoleonville Salt Dome or by something else

  • Debate over causes of levee failure during Katrina intensifies

    A court case in which residents of two sections of New Orleans are suing a construction group has put millions of dollars at stake; residents of the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish residents claim that Washington Group International (WGI), an Amy Corps of Engineers contractor, removed several buildings and pilings from land along the Industrial Canal as part of a construction plan to expand the canal’s shipping lock, then failed adequately to plug the holes left behind; the holes allowed rainwater from Hurricane Katrina to seep underneath the 14-foot wall, essentially lifting the wall and allowing the areas to be flooded

  • In China, corruption blamed for collapse of bridges

    Since 2011 eight bridges have collapsed in China, according to the state run media, including the Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin last November; the bridge was almost 10-mile long and construction was originally estimated to take three years, but workers finished it in half the time; when the bridge collapsed, the first thing on people’s mind was corruption

  • New Jersey infrastructure badly needs shoring up, and soon

    According to experts, changes to the way New Jersey maintains its infrastructure must be made soon, or the state could be vulnerable to catastrophic failures in its water and power systems as well as collapsing roads; the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority says more than $56.9 billion will be needed just to maintain state roads, rails, and public transportation systems through 2035; when you add in improvements to account for environmental changes and the expanding population in the state, the bill skyrockets to more than $123 billion

  • China’s growing role in U.S. infrastructure building, maintenance

    The building and maintenance of heavy infrastructure in the United States, which includes road, mass transit, marine, and building construction, is worth $44.1 billion per year and $12 billion in annual wages; bridge and tunnel construction is worth an estimated $24 billion in revenue and $4.3 billion in wages; many wonder why, in this difficult times, states and municipalities hire Chinese companies for many of these infrastructure projects