Publisher’s pick: Engineering solutions for sustainable development

31st May 2024

Author: Benjamin Ramster, Journals Commissioning Editor of ICE Publishing.

Discover how civil engineering intersects with the United Nations' (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with our carefully curated publisher's pick of key articles. These articles address pressing issues such as public health, urban resilience, and environmental sustainability. We explore innovative approaches and inspiring solutions that are shaping a brighter future. Are you ready to be part of the solution? 

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1. Sustainable drainage to address Zika in favelas, Brazil: community perspectives - Infrastructure Asset Management

Authors: S M Charlesworth, D Kilgerman, F Warwick, M Blackett

The topic of managing greywater and stormwater in informal settlements is crucial for achieving multiple SDGs. These settlements often lack proper infrastructure, leading to health risks from disease-carrying mosquitoes breeding in standing water. By empowering communities with information and education, we can promote multiple sustainable development goals. Addressing this issue aligns with these goals by improving health outcomes, enhancing environmental sustainability, and promoting community resilience.

2. A planning support system for boosting walkability - Institution of Civil Engineers - Municipal Engineer.

Authors: M Bencekri, D Lee, D Ku, S Lee

Supporting SDGs 11 and 13.

The topic of urban walkability within the 15-minute city concept is significant for fostering sustainable urban development. Enhancing walkability promotes sustainable cities and communities by reducing reliance on cars, enhancing accessibility, and fostering community cohesion. It also contributes to climate action by reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the urban heat island effect. Prioritising pedestrian-friendly infrastructure benefits public health, the environment, and urban liveability. 

3. Characterisation, remediation and valorisation of contaminated sediments: a critical review - Environmental Geotechnics.

Authors:  Singh, C Vitone, B A Baudet, et al.

Supporting SDGs 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17.

Reusing and recycling dredged sediments (DSs) aligns with the UN SDGs, but requires careful characterisation and treatment due to potential contamination and high moisture content. This paper synthesises research on DS characterisation, remediation, and utilisation, revealing gaps in upscaling treatment techniques and highlighting the need for circular economy practices.

4. Using wearable technologies to minimise occupational illnesses among construction workers - Institution of Civil Engineers - Forensic Engineering.

Author: L G Mollo

Supporting SDGs 3 and 9.

This article highlights the significance of using wearable technologies to minimise occupational illness and improve workplace safety in the construction industry, which is known for its high risk and physically demanding nature. By continuously monitoring workers' health in real-time, wearable technologies can help detect signs of workplace stress and fatigue, thus reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by decreased focus or impaired cognitive function. 

5. Arsenic calamity in India’s West Bengal: a critical review of mitigation scenarios - Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability.

Author: S Koley

Supporting SDGs 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 17.

Arsenic pollution in groundwater poses a significant threat in developing countries, and while India has made progress with arsenic-treatment units (ATUs), managing the toxic wastewater they produce remains a challenge. This paper investigates recent arsenic-wastewater-management practices in West Bengal, highlighting the potential of incorporating arsenic waste into building materials for safe encapsulation and sustainable mitigation.

6. Upgrading rural footpaths to motorcycle taxi tracks in rural sub-Saharan Africa - Institution of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering.

Authors: K Peters, J Clarke

Supporting SDGs 1, 2, 3 and 9.

The project described in the paper focuses on converting footpaths into motorcycle taxi tracks in central Liberia, presenting a community-based approach to address isolation and create employment opportunities. By adopting a community-driven approach, the project offers governments and donors a unique opportunity to invest in sustainable development efforts that address local challenges and foster economic growth.

7. Mobilising sustainable, water-resilient communities in the UK: evidence and engagement across scales - Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability.

Authors: S Ward, N Paling, A Rogers

Supporting SDGs 4, 5, 6, 11, 13 and 17.

Engaging public support and co-creating action on climate change, resilient water management, and sustainable infrastructure requires a multifaceted approach involving engineering, environmental and social sciences, science communication, and intergenerational perspectives. This paper shares best practices from the Westcountry Rivers Trust’s Water Resilient Communities programme in south-west England, highlighting successfully co-created projects with over 400 participants and deriving lessons for future initiatives.

8. Vulnerability analysis of earthquake-driven blast load on a reinforced concrete structure - Institution of Civil Engineers – Structures and Buildings.

Authors: S Verma, M D Goel, N N Sirdesai

Supporting SDG 9.

In earthquake-prone areas, designing structures to withstand earthquake loads is common practice, but high-intensity earthquakes can also trigger explosions, increasing structural damage. This study examines the combined effects of earthquake and blast loading on reinforced concrete structures, revealing that combined loading scenarios amplify damage and vibrations, and offers a numerical solution to enhance structural engineers' understanding of these multi-hazard impacts.

9. Analysis of a landslide in sensitive clays using the material point method – Geotechnical Research.

Authors: A Troncone, L Pugliese, A Parise, E Conte

Supporting SDG 10.

Slope movements are classified into pre-failure, failure, post-failure, and reactivation phases, with traditional numerical techniques often inadequate for post-failure analysis due to large deformations. This study employs the material point method (MPM) to analyze a 2010 landslide in sensitive clays at Saint-Jude, Quebec, showing that MPM effectively reproduces the failure mechanism and final displacement, aligning well with field observations and requiring few geotechnical parameters.

10. Treatment measures for the creep–slip phase of landslides induced by twin tunnels - Institution of Civil Engineers – Geotechnical Engineering.

Authors: J Zhang, J Ma, K Ma, Y Tan, et al.

Supporting SDG 11.

Tunnel excavation in challenging geological areas can trigger slope instability and subsequent landslides, endangering tunnel integrity. A study examined this issue using the finite-difference method, focusing on the Hanshankou tunnel in Guangdong, China. Results showed that the 'anti-slip pile + anchor frame beam' reinforcement system effectively reduced daily deformation by 60.1%, highlighting its efficacy in mitigating landslide creep and categorizing treatment measures based on critical slope safety factors.

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