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Exam questions for sustainability

Question 1 (2008), (2013)


a). Explain why an increase of CO2 in the earth atmosphere gives rise to the so called Green House Gas
Effect
Greenhouse gas effect is caused by an increase of CO2 and will increase the ability of the atmosphere to absorb
reflected inferred radiation from the earth to space. Hence increasing the temperature in the atmosphere.
b). What is understood by Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)? Explain the applications of this
technology.
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is the technology developed to absorb the co2 emitted by the
combustion of fossil fuel. This will allow for clean coal energy conversion such as super critical combustion and
oxy-fuel combustion.
c). Discuss carbon balance and sustainability implications of the widespread use of biofuels.
Biofuel are used for transportation such as ethanol from sugar and biodiesel from oils like palm or rape seed.
Carbon balance are positive for bioethanol when only burning straw and bagasse and biogas which has to carry
out a complete rigorous system analysis. If biofuel is a replacement for fossil fuel, then it will require a large
portion of land to sustain the development of biofuel. Therefore, good agriculture practice is needed to reduce the
carbon footprint and to for biofuel to be sustainable it must be used close to the point of farming.
d). In waste management, what processes can be used to obtain energy from waste (EFW)? Explain in
further detail ONE of these processes.
These are some of the following processes used to obtain energy from waste; Anaerobic digestion (AD),
Household waste incineration, Landfill gas, Combustion of agriculture residual.
Anaerobic digestion is a process where biodegradable material like animal waste, food waste, agriculture waste is
put in digestion tank. Then micro-organism will break down the waste material with the absents of oxygen. One
of end product of this process will be biogas which will be used to heat the digestion tank, and the cycle repeats.
e). Make a short analysis of the social, economic and environmental issues associated with the worldwide
increase in energy use. (2013)
Social

Economic

Environmental

Energy used
If no large alternative to fossil fuel are
implemented, concentration of resources will
give rise to military conflicts. Alternative
options implementation lead to large job
creation
Need for new expertise in a broad range of the
economy. Distributed generation gives
economic independence to smaller generators.
Fairer wealth distribution among countries
Life cycle assessments need to be
implemented for any alternative energy
technology, reduction in use of fossil fuel
implies reduction on air and water pollution.

f). In the Energy White Paper published in May 2007, the UK Government aims to cut CO2 emission by
60% by 2050. Give advice on what measures the Government will need to take in order to achieve this
target. (2008)
government can encourage people to eat locally produced and organic food as production and transportation of
food will have an effect on the co2 emission. This way it can reduce carbon footprint from food. Add congestion
fees in certain area of the UK which is more likely to have high co2 emission, that way people will use other
alternatives mean of travelling such as walking, cycling or using public transportation.
Question 2 (2008), (2016)
The steps of a lifecycle assessment are as follows:

1. Definition (goal and scope)


2. Inventory Analysis
3. Impact Assessment
4. Interpretation
Explain each stage. You may make use of any article of your choice (paper towel, bicycle pedal, mobile
phone, etc) to focus your explanation on.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or
service system through all stages of its life cycle. There are 4 main stages in the life cycle assessment report;
definition (Goal & scope), inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.
Goal and scope definition: the product or service to be assessed are defined, a function basis for comparison is
chosen and the required level of detail is defined such as system boundaries.
Inventory analysis: is an analysis of extraction and emissions, the energy and raw materials used, and emission to
the atmosphere, water and land, are quantified for each process, then combined in the process flow chart and
related to the functional basis.
Interpretation: the results are reported in the most informative way possible and the need and opportunity to
reduce the impact of the product or service on the environment are systematically evaluated.
Question 3 (2008), (2013)
The graph below taken from Dr D Harris's lecture notes shows the potential for an increase of per capita
use of Aluminium as countries progress towards industrialisation.
Comment on sustainability issues of this potential increase.
Note: base your analysis on the three main indicators of sustainability: Techno-economic, environmental and
social

Sustainability of Aluminium
Environmental
Known reserves of ore at current production levels are in good balance with demand
Restoration of mining sites at the end of mine life is widely practiced
Control of emissions during primary production
Source of energy used (mostly Hydroelectricity) and control of emissions
Large extent of recycling
Savings of energy and reduction of emissions through recycling
Economic

Economically sound price per tonne and availability


Continuous investment in R and D to develop new markets
Investment in capital expenditure to install new primary production
The above ensures the profitability of the Aluminium industry
Social
Local employment in primary production plants, particularly in third world countries
Extent of industry training (hrs per year per employee)
Better average wage of workforce compared to national average data
Contribution from companies towards local activities
Public involvement in recycling
Question 4 (2009), (2014), (2015)
In the medium term solutions for controlling the amount of anthropogenic CO2
emissions must include a number of electricity and heat generation options. Some of
these options are:
1. Renewable Energy
2. Fossil Fuel with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
3. Nuclear Energy
Considering the three pillars of sustainable development: Eco-centric, TechnoEconomic-centric and Socio-centric, comment on each of the three electricity
generation options above. You may provide your answer in tabular form. [20 marks]

Ecologic

Renewable energy

Fossil Fuel with Carbon


Capture and Storage

Nuclear

Depending on type of RE
technology. If biomass
issues on resources
procurement. It has to be
local!)

CCS- depending on where


stored, environmental effects
not fully understood for long
term storage.

Although volume of
radioactive waste not so
large, disposal issues can
become more important
if nuclear generation
capacity increases

2 marks

2 marks

2 marks
TechnoEconomic

Locally generated, so low


transmission losses.
Distributed generation
will need new
sophisticated electrical
networks and control
systems. High investment
in infrastructure as well as
training.

CCS not developed yet for


large scale implementation.
Piping network or/and other
CO2 transport systems needed.
3 marks

Well known technology.


Highly automated.
Affordable costs of
generation Expensive
decommissioning
2 marks

3 marks
Social

Society will need to be


educated to be able to
adapt to RE generation.
Regulations needed.
2 marks

FF are finite, will run out so


this is temporary solution.
There is a need to reduce
energy demand. i.e. increase
efficiency (insulated houses,
etc)

Risks of nuclear
proliferation. Should all
countries have nuclear
capacity? Who decides?
Local issues for
placement of new
installations and nuclear

2 marks

waste disposal.
2 marks

Question 5 (2009), (2014)


Based on the principles of sustainability analyse either Case 1 or Case 2 below.
Case1: Replacement of University oil and gas fired boilers
Case 2: Replacement of single pane windows by double glazing for all social
housing managed by Islington City Council.
Consider in your analysis the following principles of engineering for sustainable
development.
1. Look beyond your locality and immediate future
2. Innovate and be creative
3. Seek a balanced solution
4. Seek engagement for shareholders
5. Make sure you know the needs and wants
6. Plan and manage effectively
7. Adopt a cradle to grave approach
8. Beware of cost cutting

[20 marks]

Principle

CASE 1 Boilers

CASE 2 Glazing

1. Look beyond your


locality and immediate
future

Need to know where fuel


comes from

Choice of frame materials.


Aluminium, plastic, where are
they sourced, reduction of GHG

2. Innovate and be creative

Alternatives to oil/gas, if
more than 1 boiler, one
gas, one biomass. Solar
water heater. Reliability?

Secondary glazing? Shutters?


Transparent PVC?

3. Seek a balanced solution

Consider capital, running


costs, fuel (O&M). Leave
room for upgrading (if
demand drops) if biomass
more O&M, consider
levels of automation

Capital cost of double glazing


high, but long life time
investment. More savings
throughout life-time. Capital
costs: council pays. Energy
costs: occupant pays. All system
should have lower carbon cost
than current.

4. Seek engagement for


stakeholders

Boiler manufacturers and


fuel suppliers. City
University management,
finance, operators,
building facilities.

Occupants may want different


types, options (how window
opens). Window manufacturers,
installers, finance institutions
(Banks)

5. Make sure you know the


needs and wants

What room temperature,


temp of water at the tap
required, Variations
throughout the day/year

How much ventilation needed?


How? Safety (low opening,
wide) narrow opening? Comfort,
Occupant may not like it.
Durability

6. Plan and manage


effectively

Minimise disruption. Set


fool-proof automation
(default: off?). Proper
maintenance plan.

Minimum disruption when


installing, easy access to repair
team. Outdoors cleaning
programme

7. Adopt a cradle to grave


approach

Use long lasting materials.


Good maintenance to
ensure long life and no
wastage while running.

Toughened glass (ensure long


life). Use recycled plastics. Long
lasting parts (hinges, locks, etc)

8. Beware of cost cutting

Cheaper options may have


shorter life, more
maintenance. i.e. more
CO2 cost.

Cheaper options may have


shorter life, more maintenance.
i.e. more CO2 cost.

Question 6 (2010)
The UK Government has committed to a 60% reduction of CO2 (with respect to 1992 levels) by 2050.
(a) Comment on changes that need to be implemented in both sides (supply and demand) of energy,
in order to achieve these targets. [12 marks]
Changes needed for both sides as the demand side need to be reduced, improve building performance and change
our ways of transportation. For the supply side, the changes needed will be the maximum uses of renewable
energies, electricity storages such as grid stability and baseload either nuclear or fossil fuel with carbon dioxide
sequestration
(b) Comment on EU and UK policies and regulations that will help to achieve the above targets. [8
marks]
The UK subsidies certain amount of KW of energy if they are produced from renewable energy. The EU has
encouraged waste diversion, recycling and recovery. UK has embrace the waste target. The EU have also signed
legislation treaty such as the Kyoto protocol and the Paris agreement to commit and reduce the greenhouse gases
and manmade CO2 emission.
Question 7 (2010)
Taking either catalytic converters for emission control from motor cars or mobile phones as an example,
comment on 4 out of the following 7 principles of engineering for sustainable development.
1. Look beyond your locality and immediate future
2. Innovate and be creative
3. Seek a balanced solution
4. Seek engagement for shareholders
5. Make sure you know the needs and wants
6. Plan and manage effectively
7. Adopt a cradle to grave approach
Principle
1. Look beyond your
locality and
immediate future

2. Innovate and be
creative

[20 marks]

CASE 1 Catalytic converter

CASE 2 Mobile phone

Catalytic converter improves local air


quality, but will impact of mining, refining
and transporting catalytic material from the
source to the manufacturer needs to be
considered against these benefits.

Its a global industry. Numerous


components are sourced around the
world.

Catalytic converter manufacture depletes


scarce and finite natural resources and
consumes energy, but the process will
create jobs in the country being produced

Mobile phones are only one means


of mass communication. New
electronic devices appear regularly
in different hardware and software

3. Seek a balanced
solution

4. Seek engagement
for stakeholders

5. Make sure you


know the needs and
wants

6. Plan and manage


effectively

7. Adopt a cradle to
grave approach

and protect the health of people in dense


population.

formats. New recycling scheme will


become more available to the people
as eco legislation kicks in.

We cannot ban all urban traffic without


balancing that decision with acceptable
alternative methods of mass transport. We
should prioritise the needs, and direct
technical development to these, e.g. nonfossil-fuelled power for taxis and urban
delivery vehicles. Tax measures can then
be adjusted to promote market mechanisms
and consumer buy-in.

Equipment manufacturers are


increasingly being made aware of
their SD and Eco responsibilities
through legislation, action by
competitors and supply chain
pressures. Increasingly electronic
and electrical equipment is
scrutinised for its SD potential.

Most households have cars. Collectively


we can curb emissions by sharing journeys,
e.g. for commuting and the school run. Car
makers and oil firms can work together on
engine management systems and fuel types
and formulations to reduce consumption
and emissions. Local authorities and public
transport operators can combine to offer
more-attractive alternatives to use of
private cars.

Many and varied stakeholders were


incorporated into this study. They
ranged from authorities at the
European level, telecommunications
service providers, manufacturers,
users, component suppliers, plus
NGOs such as the WWF.

National policy aims to improve public


health, to improve quality of life and curb
NHS healthcare costs while minimising
any infringement on personal mobility. The
national needs are thus to improve energy
efficiency to counter increasing reliance on
imported fossil fuels and to increase public
awareness of the issues and develop and
promote appropriate products and services.

Extensive efforts were made to strike


a balance between user needs and
wants, marketability and the SD and
eco aspects of the mobile phone and
its supporting infrastructure.

Applying more catalytic coating material


may improve converter performance, but at
increased cost. We should make sure other
emissions reducing processes and
procedures play their part.

Sustainability issues are increasingly


being felt by the whole electrical &
electronics industry worldwide.
Initially, legislation was the main
driver but latterly green products
are seen to give a commercial
advantage in some sectors.

Life-cycle thinking now percolates the


whole design process in the
telecommunications business.

We need, with customers and


suppliers, to develop strategies for
design for de-manufacture, takeback schemes and packaging
options. Integrated Pollution
Prevention and Control requirements
(mandatory in autocat manufacture)
need to be met, and the Environment
Agencys BPEO Reference Notes,
which provide a checklist of aspects
to consider in a cradle to- grave
assessment, need to be followed.

Question 8 (2010)
a). You are being asked to explain to first year Engineering students what is understood by sustainable
development and why it is important for Engineers to apply sustainable principles in their careers [10
marks]

Sustainable development is to meet the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generation
to meet their own needs. It is important for engineers to follow the sustainable principles due the population
increasing exponentially. This will also mean that the resources for standard living condition will increase. So by
having
b). Give a concise explanation of the stages in a Life Cycle Assessment report [10 marks]
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or
service system through all stages of its life cycle. There are 4 main stages in the life cycle assessment report;
definition (Goal & scope), inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.
Goal and scope definition: the product or service to be assessed are defined, a function basis for comparison is
chosen and the required level of detail is defined such as system boundaries.
Inventory analysis: is an analysis of extraction and emissions, the energy and raw materials used, and emission to
the atmosphere, water and land, are quantified for each process, then combined in the process flow chart and
related to the functional basis.
Interpretation: the results are reported in the most informative way possible and the need and opportunity to
reduce the impact of the product or service on the environment are systematically evaluated.
Question 9 (2011), (2012)
(a) Biodiesel has been in the public arena as one of the possible solutions to replace diesel from fossil fuels
for transport. What are the main sustainability issues related to the widespread use of Biomass as a fuel?
[6 marks]

(b) It is claimed that Aluminium is a sustainable material. Give the arguments to justify this claim. [8
marks]
Aluminium is a light weight, high strength material which is virtually used everywhere

(c) One of the technical solutions for processing waste is to convert it to energy. Processes include
Anaerobic Digestion, Incineration and landfill Gas. Give a short explanation of what you understand by
each of these processes. [6 marks]
Anaerobic digestion process is where micro-organism break down biodegradable materials without oxygen. It
will produce bio gas which will be used to generate power and heat.
Incinerations process involves the combustion of organic substance contained in waste material. Incineration of
waste material converts the waste into ash, fuel gas and heat.
Landfill gas process is when methane gas is produced by the decomposing garbage from the landfills.

(c) There are a number of ways to treat waste so that the environmental impact of landfill can be reduced.
Give details of the technical options available. [7 marks]

Question 10 (2011), (2012)


Give an explanation / definition of the following:
(a) Sustainable Development. [3 marks]
Sustainability development is to meet the need of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.
(b) Green House Gases and how do they give rise to the GHG effect. [6 marks]
Greenhouse gases are gaseous compound in the atmosphere that are capable of absorbing the radiation from the
sun. This give rises to the greenhouse gas effect as more greenhouse gas are present in the atmosphere, there
more radiation is absorb thus increasing the temperature on the surface of earth.
(c) Life Cycle Assessment. [8 marks]
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or
service system through all stages of its life cycle. There are 4 main stages in the life cycle assessment report;
definition (Goal & scope), inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.
Goal and scope definition: the product or service to be assessed are defined, a function basis for comparison is
chosen and the required level of detail is defined such as system boundaries.
Inventory analysis: is an analysis of extraction and emissions, the energy and raw materials used, and emission to
the atmosphere, water and land, are quantified for each process, then combined in the process flow chart and
related to the functional basis.
Interpretation: the results are reported in the most informative way possible and the need and opportunity to
reduce the impact of the product or service on the environment are systematically evaluated.
(d) If climate change were not a consequence of human activities, is sustainable development still an
engineering responsibility? Why? [3 marks]
Yes; Engineers have a responsibility to maximize the value of their activity to build a sustainable planet. In order
to perceive attainable goal and recognition of the changes over time and demand of the society. It also not just
about the environment but also about achieving a sustainable and efficient economy.
(e) Ozone depletion. Where is it more pronounced and why? [4 marks] (2012)
Ozone depletion is the thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Ozone depletion occurs when the natural
balance between the production and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere is tipped in favour of destruction
Halogenated substance such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) are the cause of ozone depletion.
(f) Climate Change. [4 marks] (2012)
Climate change refers to any long-term change in Earth's climate, or in the climate of a region or city. This
includes warming, cooling and other changes besides temperature.

Question 11 (2011), (2016)


The following is extracted from Engineering for Sustainable Development, published by the Royal
Academy of Engineering.
In the Automotive Industry, catalytic converters are used in order to reduce emissions of NOx, CO and
particulates. The catalysts employed are based on precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
These metals are sparsely distributed, mining them has a considerable environmental impact and large
quantities of energy are required to process them
Considering the three pillars of sustainability: Eco-centric; Socio-centric and Techno/Economic-centric,
discuss the following assertions:
(a) There is a need to decrease road traffic
(b) Mining these precious metals is not sustainable
(c) The use of alternative fuels will help to reduce emissions.
Decrease road traffic
Socio-centric

Mining precious metal not


sustainable
The number or precious
resource is finite and will
run out if we keep on
mining. Need to reduce the
demands for the precious
metal and recycle the
existing metals.

Use alternative fuel to


reduce emission

Techno/economiccentric

Eco-centric

Question 12 (2012)
Nuclear generation and use of fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage can be solutions to achieve a
reduction of CO2 released from the use of fossil fuels.
Explain how each of the above options can address the three main sustainability indicators (SocioTechno/Economic-Environmental).

Nuclear generation
Social

Risks of nuclear
proliferation. Not all
countries will have the
capacity for a nuclear
plant.one government body
such as the U.N should
decide which country can run
a nuclear plant. Local issues
for placement of new
installations and nuclear
waste disposal.

Techno/economic

Well known technology.


Highly automated. Affordable
costs of generation.
Expensive decommissioning

Environment (eco)

Although volume of
radioactive waste not so
large, disposal issues can
become more important if
nuclear generation capacity
increases.

Fossil fuel with carbon


capture and storage
Fossil fuel are finite, will run
out so this is temporary
solution. There is a need to
reduce energy demand. i.e.
increase efficiency (insulated
houses, double glaze window
etc)

CCS not properly developed


yet for large scale
implementation. Piping
network or/and other CO2
transport systems needed.
CCS- depending on where
stored, environmental effects
not fully understood for long
term storage.

Question 13 (2013)
Based on the principles of engineering for sustainability outlined in the Engineering for Sustainable
Development Guide, and listed below, do an analysis on Photovoltaic power generation for an installation
capable of producing 500kWpeak
1. Look beyond your locality and immediate future.
2) Innovate and be creative.
3. Seek a balanced solution.
4. Seek engagement for stakeholders.
5. Make sure you know the needs and wants.
6. Plan and manage effectively.
7. Adopt a cradle to grave approach.
Principle
1. Look beyond your locality and
immediate future

Large PV Installation
Global business
Components sourced from all over world. Large area of
installation. Compete with farming land. No emissions

2. Innovate and be creative

Improvements in cell efficiency and new materials are high in


the agenda of R&D for PV

3. Seek a balanced solution

Alternative electricity generation to Fossil Fuel is need, for


Energy security as well as for environmental pollution

4. Seek engagement for stakeholders

Manufacturers, installation engineers, land owners, users need


to see the future benefits

5. Make sure you know the needs


and wants

Balance between user needs, environmental aspects of use and


manufacturing, transmission issues as storage not possible

6. Plan and manage effectively

7. Adopt a cradle to grave


approach

Once installation running, maintenance, prevention of


vandalism by education of local community, exporting
channels clearly contracted
Life cycle thinking for the whole design, manufacturing and
use process

Question 14 (2014)
To measure progress towards sustainability we need to develop indicators covering the performance
of the production and use of a material, in this case, Aluminium, in the economic and technical, social
and environmental activities.
Indicators for sustainability must be:
Relevant to the material being used
Measurable and quantifiable
Consistent when measured year on year
Easily understood
Chosen after discussion with stakeholders (Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Neighbors, Legislators,
Academia)
Fairly represent the material and not biased towards only favorable factors.
Based on the above statement, provide a comprehensive list of Social, Environmental and TechnoEconomic indicators that can be put forwards to analyse the sustainability of Aluminium.
Environmental
Known reserves of ore at current production levels
Restoration of mining sites at the end of mine life
Control of emissions during primary production
Energy required for primary production
Source of energy used and control of emissions
Extent of recycling
Savings of energy and reduction of emissions through recycling
Energy savings during final end use
Economic
Price per tonne and availability
Investment in R and D to develop new markets
Investment in capital expenditure to install new primary production
Profitability of the Aluminium industry
Inroads into markets by competitive materials
Is aluminium production expanding?
Is there a relationship between Use per Head of Population and GDP in each country?
Social
Local employment in primary production plants, particularly in third world countries
Extent of industry training (hrs per year per employee)
Average wage of workforce compared to national average data

Days lost due to accidents


Days lost due to illness
Contribution from companies towards local activities
Public involvement in recycling
Acceptability of the end products using aluminium
Question 15 (2015)
Based on the principles of sustainability analyse either Case 1 or Case 2 below.
Case1: Replacement of University oil- and gas-fired boilers by Wood-pellet fired boilers
Case 2: Reduce the proportion of overall energy consumption of on road operation of medium size
passenger cars by a reduction of weight in new vehicles design.
Consider in your analysis the following principles of engineering for sustainable development.
1. Look beyond your locality and immediate future
2. Innovate and be creative
3. Seek a balanced solution
4. Seek engagement for stakeholders
5. Make sure you know the needs and wants
6. Plan and manage effectively
7. Adopt a cradle to grave approach
8. Beware of cost cutting
Principle
1. Look beyond your locality
and immediate future
2. Innovate and be creative

3. Seek a balanced solution

4. Seek engagement for


stakeholders

5. Make sure you know the


needs and wants

6. Plan and manage effectively

CASE 1 Boilers

CASE 2 Lighter Cars

Need to know where fuel


comes from, is there local
supply?

Choice of frame materials.


Aluminium, plastic, where are
they sourced

Alternatives to oil/gas, if more


than 1 boiler, one gas, one
biomass. Solar water heater.
Reliability?

Can power steering and other


motor assisted operations (i.e.
electric windows) be replaced?

Consider capital, running


costs, fuel (O&M). Leave
room for upgrading (if demand
drops) if biomass more O&M,
consider levels of automation

Manufacturing costs may


increase. Can this be passed on
to purchaser? More savings
throughout life-time. Would
this be acceptable by car
owners?

Boiler manufacturers and fuel


suppliers. City University
management, finance,
operators, building facilities.

Car manufacturers,
government policies on fuel
tax and emissions, users
willingness to change

What room temperature, temp


of water at the tap required,
Variations throughout the
day/year

Car durability and safety


maintained, are car repairs
well trained? Are changes
welcome by public?

Minimise disruption. Set foolproof automation (default:


off?). Proper maintenance
plan.

seamless changes in vehicle


comfort, good communication
with car dealers and public

7. Adopt a cradle to grave


approach

8. Beware of cost cutting

Use long lasting materials.


Good maintenance to ensure
long life and no wastage while
running.

Make sure new lighter


materials are more recyclable
than older heavier ones

Cheaper options may have


shorter life, more maintenance.
i.e. more CO2 cost.

The choice of materials need


to ensure durability even if
negative effect on costs

Question 16 (2015)
The UK has the target to reduce their CO2 emissions to 80% of the 1990 level by 2050. Propose and
discuss the actions that will be conductive to achieve this goal. Include in your analysis all aspects of
economic and technical development while maintaining or improving living standards.
Policies to encourage industry, commerce and public to engage on practicing new necessary measures. Incentive
to install distributed generation (example Feed in Tariff), Carbon Tax, Building regulations, etc
Education, gearing education of public to broaden acceptability, change of practices, modal ways of transport,
reduction of waste (energy, materials), training of experts in energy management, operation and maintenance of
distributed generation, technical operators of CHP, etc.
Investment

New electricity networks


Capital costs subsidies for distributed generation
Encourage large generators to diversify
Modes of public transport (not only in large cities)
Waste management (EfW, AD, LFG, Recycling, gate fees etc)

Question 17 (2016)
a) Give a brief definition/explanation of:
(i)

Sustainable Development.

Sustainability development is to meet the need of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.
(ii)

Green House Gases and their effect on global warming. [8 marks]

Greenhouse gases are gaseous compound in the atmosphere that are capable of absorbing the radiation from the
sun. This give rises to the greenhouse gas effect as more greenhouse gas are present in the atmosphere, there
more radiation is absorb thus increasing the temperature on the surface of earth.
(b) In Waste Management there are a number of options available to operators. Describe the Energy from
Waste (EfW) and Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) options. [7 marks]
Energy from waste option: reduces waste volume by 90% therefore landfill sites last longer, residuals are
generally inert, landfill tax are less, bottom ash can be used in road building as a substitute for cement.
It can generate electricity and displaces co2 emission from fossil fuel power station
It is expensive to build and pollution which will have an effect on the greenhouse gases, dioxin and noise.
Mechanical and biological treatment option:
Comprehensively sort waste streams (recycling)
Aerobic treatment of waste -no methane
Anaerobic digestion of residuals- renewable energy and fertilisers
Uncertainty of market price output.

(c) When considering Carbon Capture and Sequestration (or Storage) (CCS) for the use of fossil fuels in
power generation, provide a short analysis of its sustainability, considering the three pillars concept:
Ecological-, Techno-Economic- and Socio-centric. [7 marks]
Environment (eco)

Fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage


CCS- depending on where stored,
environmental effects not fully understood for
long term storage.

Techno/economic

CCS not properly developed yet for large scale


implementation. Piping network or/and other
CO2 transport systems needed.

Social

Fossil fuel are finite, will run out so this is


temporary solution. There is a need to reduce
energy demand. i.e. increase efficiency
(insulated houses, double glaze window etc)

(d) If climate change were not a consequence of human activities, is sustainable development still an
Engineering responsibility? Why? Discuss briefly (50-100 words). [3 marks]
Yes; Engineers have a responsibility to maximize the value of their activity to build a sustainable planet. In order
to perceive attainable goal and recognition of the changes over time and demand of the society. It also not just
about the environment but also about achieving a sustainable and efficient economy.
Principles that will be one the exam (most likely)
1.Look beyond your locality and immediate future
In considering the effects of our decisions on the wider world, we need to:
identify the potential positive and negative impacts of our proposed actions, not only locally and soon but also
outside our immediate local environment, organisation and context, and into the future
seek to minimise the negative, while maximising the positive, both locally and more widely, and into the future
Examples where these considerations may apply include the environmental and social effects of raw material
extraction, which may arise a very long way from a product manufacturing plant or other point of use such as
construction, and in the environmental effects of operating a product, which may also arise far from its point of
manufacture. Un-sustainable development or product manufacture can result from an action that, while based on
trying to act sustainably in a local context, creates more severe development problems or social and
environmental effects in a broader context, either immediately or in the future
.2.innovate and be creative
A sustainable development approach is creative, innovative and broad, and thus does not mean following a
specific set of rules. It requires an approach to decision-making that strikes a balance between environmental,
social and economic factors. This means that:
we are not seeking a holy grail of a single correct solution
alternative solutions can be identified that fit with the sustainable development approach
it is very difficult to predict with certainty how these alternatives will work into the future, so we need to
provide options and flexibility for change and other action in the future
there are no guarantees that our solutions will be truly sustainable we therefore must do our best with the
skills, knowledge and resources we have at our disposal now
3.seek a balance solution
Approaches like the three pillars and the five capitals explained in Section 1 seek to deliver economic, social
and environmental success all at the same time, and so seek to avoid any product, process or project that yields
an unbalanced solution. This could be one that generates significant environmental harm, that generates social

disquiet or that generates economic loss or spends public funds inefficiently, because each of these should be
characterised as un-sustainable. Thus, in considering options and in our decision-making, we need to:
not just seek to balance the adverse and positive impacts on economic, social and environmental factors in the
challenge we are addressing but seek gains in all three
ensure, as far as practicable, that renewable or recyclable resources are used preferentially before nonrenewable, non-recyclable ones
ensure non-renewable resources are used, wherever possible, only for the creation of permanent new assets
focus on the future at least as much as the present
aim for durability, flexibility and low impact products and infrastructure
live off the interest rather than depleting natures capital assets recognise that the environment is an
ecological system, and assess the carrying capacity of the environment and natures capacity for regeneration
avoid irrecoverable changes to already-refined materials
recognise that, even though enhancement of social capital may be difficult to quantify, it is a very important
aspect of sustainable development
recognise that sustainable solutions that are competitive will be promoted and propagated by the market
4.seetk engagement for shareholders
Society will ultimately say what is needed or wanted for any development, sustainable or otherwise. So reaching
decisions in this area requires:
engagement of stakeholders to bring their different views, perceptions, knowledge and skills to bear on the
challenge being addressed
professional engineers to participate actively in the decision-making as citizens as well as in their professional
roles
5.make sure you know the needs and wants
Effective decision-making in engineering for sustainable development is only possible when we know what is
needed or wanted the framework of the problem, issue or challenge to be tackled. This should be identified as
clearly as possible, including identifying any legal requirements and constraints. We should use teamwork and
assistance of immediate colleagues to improve problem definition. It is important to recognise that many
engineering challenges are driven by what people want to have such as even better motor cars rather than just
what they need a means of transport. In addition, wants are often characterised as needs when they are in
fact just perceived needs, and a more modest solution may ultimately be acceptable. As a result, we need to:
engage with stakeholders in identifying the problem, issue or challenge to be tackled ahead of the engineering
problems to be solved
ensure clarity of the considerations, criteria and values that different stakeholders wish to have reflected in the
framing of whatever is being tackled
identify the legal requirements and constraints upon the problem, issue or challenge to be tackled and ensure
they are reflected in the framing
recognise the distinctions between a need and a want, and between an actual and a perceived need
then identify the wants as well as the needs, so that the full spectrum of problems, issues and challenges is
known
identify interdependences between economic, social and environmental factors in these needs and wants
decide on the system boundary, which should be sufficiently large to comfortably encompass the foreseeable
influences on sustainability, but not so large that the detail of the current challenge is lost
communicate the engineering opportunities and constraints to the team and stakeholders, and explain any value
judgements about engineering aspects that are included in the framing

use an appropriate template for your approach from those available such as the three pillars or five capitals,
and consider time as well as space to ensure that a broad scope and range of options is considered initially,
avoiding the trap of narrowing down to one technological solution too quickly
recognise the legacy issues of the project to future users and future generations;
however regrettable it may be, accept that an even better solution may have to await the creation of the next
plant or piece of infrastructure
6.plan and manage effectively
In planning our engineering projects, we need to:
express our aims in sufficiently open-ended terms so as not to preclude the potential for innovative solutions as
the project develops
assemble and critically review historical evidence and forward projections, and weigh the evidence for
relevance and importance to the plan
encourage creative out-of-the-box thinking
define the desired outcome in terms of an appropriate balance between the economic, environmental and social
factors identified earlier
recognise that ideas that may not be immediately practicable can stimulate research for the next project, but also
that they need to be properly recorded if they are to be acted upon
seek to improve on, or at least maintain, the sustainability of existing practices;
ensure that the effort and resources devoted to avoiding un-sustainable development remains in proportion to
the anticipated effect dont use a sledgehammer to crack a nut
keep the plan straightforward, so others can understand it
pick the low-hanging fruit (the easiest, readily-available gains), but not in a way that constrains further
improvements and/or hinders the next generation in meeting their needs.
7.adopt a cradle to grave approach
To deliver this approach, the effects on sustainability throughout the whole life-cycle of a product or
infrastructure scheme should be systematically evaluated. We need to:
use whole-life-cycle tools to improve our decision-making: whole-life-cycle environmental assessment, wholelife-cycle costing, and assessment of the social impacts over the whole life time of the engineering challenge we
are addressing sometimes called assessment of inter-generational equity where the impacts of our decisions
on future generations are considered alongside the present
handle uncertainty by keeping open as many future options as practicable
ensure that the design is maintainable and that the materials are adaptable for re-use or recycling
think in the fourth dimension and ensure that the design life is appropriate to the product or project and its
context
use high embodied energy only when it is justified by a long design life
explicitly address the end-of-life options, and avoid wherever possible leaving to our successors any problems
of disposal
ensure non-renewable resources are used, wherever possible, only for the creation of permanent new assets
8.Beware of cost cutting
We are unlikely to arrive at our best decisions first time every time. So we need to challenge ourselves and refine
those decisions, whilst remaining focused on the intended outcome. We therefore need to:
avoid sacrificing the sustainability desires incorporated in a design when seeking cost reductions
include any adverse effects on sustainability in the value equation and value engineering
be self-critical of our own fundamental assumptions and values
be prepared to challenge our and others existing assumptions

re-examine first preferences and submit them to re-appraisal


use intelligence from the marketplace to monitor assumptions on user behaviour included in the design
check that the achievement of sustainable development objectives is not being subverted by unintended
consequences of design changes and/or user behaviour
however regrettable it may be, accept that an even better solution may have to await the creation of the next
plant or piece of infrastructure Finally, if satisfied with the balance struck between the economic, environmental
and social impacts of the proposed solution, congratulate yourself. If not change it.
Three pillar of sustainability development

Environmental Sustainability-We all know what we need to do to protect the environment, whether that
is recycling, reducing our power consumption by switching electronic devices off rather than using
standby, by walking short journeys instead of taking the bus. Businesses are regulated to prevent
pollution and to keep their own carbon emissions low. There are incentives to installing renewable power
sources in our homes and businesses. Environmental protection is the third pillar and to many, he primary
concern of the future of humanity. It defines how we should study and protect ecosystems, air quality,
integrity and sustainability of our resources and focusing on the elements that place stress on the
environment. It also concerns how technology will drive our greener future; the EPA recognized that
developing technology and biotechnology is key to this sustainability, and protecting the environment of
the future from potential damage that technological advances could potentially bring.

Economic Sustainability This is the issue that proves the most problematic as most people disagree on
political ideology what is and is not economically sound, and how it will affect businesses and by
extension, jobs and employability. It is also about providing incentives for businesses and other
organisations to adhere to sustainability guidelines beyond their normal legislative requirements. Also, to
encourage and foster incentives for the average person to do their bit where and when they can; one
person can rarely achieve much, but taken as a group, effects in some areas are cumulative. The supply
and demand market is consumerist in nature and modern life requires a lot of resources every single day;
for the sake of the environment, getting what we consume under control is the paramount issue.
Economic development is about giving people what they want without compromising quality of life,
especially in the developing world, and reducing the financial burden and red tape of doing the right
thing.

Social Sustainability There are many facets to this pillar. Most importantly is awareness of and
legislation protection of the health of people from pollution and other harmful activities of business and
other organisations. In North America, Europe and the rest of the developed world, there are strong
checks and programmes of legislation in place to ensure that people's health and wellness is strongly
protected. It is also about maintaining access to basic resources without compromising the quality of life.
The biggest hot topic for many people right now is sustainable housing and how we can better build the
homes we live in from sustainable material. The final element is education - encouraging people to
participate in environmental sustainability and teaching them about the effects of environmental
protection as well as warning of the dangers if we cannot achieve our goals

To summarize, the concept of sustainable development is based on a political and ethical principle. This principle
implies that the social and economic dynamics of modern economies are compatible both with the improvement
of life conditions and the ability of natural resources to reproduce (regenerate) in an indefinite manner