This fall, as civil engineers look forward to the ASCE INSPIRE 2023: Infrastructure Innovation and Adaptation for a Sustainable and Resilient World Conference, Nov. 16-18 in Arlington, Virginia, ASCE has three new additions to its Infrastructure Resilience Publications series.

IRP6, Integrating Resilience and Sustainability into Civil Engineering Projects, describes how the engineering community is integrating social science, policy, and economics into the planning, design, and management decisions surrounding physical infrastructure projects. It’s available now at the ASCE Library.

IRP8, Infrastructure System Resilience: An Engineering Framework for Assessment, Management, and Governance, a collaboration with the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, was released this week.

And coming this October, ASCE will publish IRP7, Resilient and Sustainable Buildings, a book that provides a high-level overview of the methods and outcomes of four major projects funded by the National Science Foundation that focuses on different aspects of resilient and sustainable buildings, ranging from a single building to a full community.

Colorado State University Harold H. Short Endowed Chair Professor John van de Lindt, Ph.D., F.SEI, F.ASCE, served as the book’s lead editor and also is a co-chair for the ASCE INSPIRE Conference. He spoke recently with Civil Engineering Source about the new book and the future of resilient and sustainable buildings.

Civil Engineering Source: The book looks at four projects. What are some of the throughlines? Are there common characteristics in the innovations and solutions these projects share?

John van de Lindt: Each project is fairly different from one another – and I think that was NSF’s idea to fund an array of things. The projects were different enough that we had individual conclusions for each.

But one of the things that we realized from looking at these projects is that there is a need to strike a balance between resilience and sustainability. One does not necessarily encompass the other.

We also need better consensus on life-cycle analysis.

Source: How have you seen the industry’s approach to resilient infrastructure change in the past decade?

van de Lindt: It feels like everyone knows now that we need to build infrastructure to be more resilient.

When I look at what was happening eight or 10 years ago, engineers would throw their hands up and basically say, “Does it matter if I build this building to withstand a major earthquake? Yeah, that helps it protect life safety and of course, that’s the main goal. But in a major earthquake, the building won’t have water; it’s not going to have power. Nobody will be able to work in it anyway.”

I think over the years there’s been a lot more communication. I co-direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology-funded Center of Excellence for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning, and, in doing that, we’re starting to see practicing engineers – the same people who previously said, “I don’t know if that’s possible” – now communicating with the utility companies, and everybody is starting to come together. There’s a lot more talk about functional recovery and how to get things back quicker.

So, I think the attitudes changed from “Hey, it’s not my problem” to “We can do this, but we have to work together.”

Source: Do have a vision of where this thing will go in the next decade, what we need to see?

van de Lindt: Recently, Congress passed the Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022 (learn more in a session with FEMA Assistant Administrator, Grant Programs Directorate Pamela Williams at ASCE INSPIRE). And about a week ago they announced the 483 census tracts in the United States that are eligible for certain funds to improve their resilience to natural hazards.

I see a whole new portion of the profession, certainly in engineering, working across disciplines with social scientists and climate planners, saying, “OK, let’s take these vulnerable people in these areas and work backward to see what kind of infrastructure they need. Let’s see how they need it designed, so we can supply what’s needed for society.”

To do that, we’re going to need guidance documents, standards, and things like that. And I think ASCE is going to play a big role.

Learn more about ASCE’s new Infrastructure Resilience Publications:

IRP6, Integrating Resilience and Sustainability into Civil Engineering Projects

IRP8, Infrastructure System Resilience: An Engineering Framework for Assessment, Management, and Governance

Learn more about the ASCE INSPIRE Conference, which includes four sessions featuring IRP editors.