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Topical Collection "Advanced Materials, Systems and Policies for Achieving Sustainability Goals in Construction"

Editor

Prof. Dr. Moncef L. Nehdi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Western University, London, ON N6B 5L9, Canada
Interests: construction materials; sustainability; machine learning; deep learning
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the increased global population and the need for new civil infrastructure, the prematurely aging existing infrastructure facilities, the damage inflicted by climate change upon infrastructure assets, and the alarming need to reduce the carbon footprint of constructed facilities, there has never been such a pressing need for sustainable construction materials, systems, technologies, and novel ideas. Traditional research on the recycling and beneficiation of byproducts in construction, enhancing the life-cycle performance of civil infrastructure, and the reduction of the production energy and emissions of construction materials have brought us closer to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The advent of smart cities, 3D printing, and intelligent materials and technologies can bring further hope for the construction sector to become more sustainable. This Topical Collection of the journal Sustainability aspires to bring together innovative and forward-looking research and industry practice toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for civil infrastructure. The submission of experimental, modeling, and policy-related research are all encouraged to address this issue in a holistic approach.

Prof. Dr. Moncef L. Nehdi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • civil infrastructure
  • construction
  • concrete
  • steel
  • masonry
  • timber
  • CO2 emission
  • sustainability
  • carbon footprint
  • smart technology
  • recycling
  • energy saving

Published Papers (8 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020

Review
Fibre-Reinforced Concrete Is Sustainable and Cost-Effective for Water-Retaining Structures
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11479; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011479 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 332
Abstract
Although fibre-reinforced-concrete (FRC) is increasingly used, it has been occasionally applied to water-retaining structures (WRSs), and no comprehensive design guidelines are currently available for the design of WRSs with FRC. A design methodology for such applications based on available recommendations and research has [...] Read more.
Although fibre-reinforced-concrete (FRC) is increasingly used, it has been occasionally applied to water-retaining structures (WRSs), and no comprehensive design guidelines are currently available for the design of WRSs with FRC. A design methodology for such applications based on available recommendations and research has been applied to three reference scenarios representing a wide range of WRSs: a flood defence wall, a weir wall, and a swimming pool wall. For each of these scenarios, alternative designs using different FRC mix designs have been compared through the statistical analysis of several relevant parameters. This study confirms that the use of FRC significantly reduces reinforcement requirements when compared to conventional reinforced concrete solutions. Clear trends have been identified between the structural performance of the resulting WRS designs, the FRC mix characteristics and the fibre type and dimensions. This study has considered not only structural performance but also the total cost and environmental footprint per unit length of WRSs, and these considerations further the case for adoption of FRC in such applications. Overall, fibre dosages below 0.75% and 2% in volume for steel and synthetic fibres, respectively, can lead to WRS designs with lower cost and carbon footprint than their reinforced concrete counterparts. Full article
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Article
Effect of Precast Concrete Pavement Albedo on the Climate Change Mitigation in Spain
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11448; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011448 - 16 Oct 2021
Viewed by 308
Abstract
The widespread use of solar-reflective concrete pavements can mitigate climatic change and urban heat islands (UHI) by cooling the pavement surfaces that are made of concrete instead of asphalt. The methodology that was followed is based on the comparison between the asphalt and [...] Read more.
The widespread use of solar-reflective concrete pavements can mitigate climatic change and urban heat islands (UHI) by cooling the pavement surfaces that are made of concrete instead of asphalt. The methodology that was followed is based on the comparison between the asphalt and concrete albedo effects in a specific application and area. In this study, we found that a reduction of temperature in the terrestrial surface, equivalent to the removal of 25–75 kgCO2/m2, could be achieved. Considering all the motorways and freeways of Spain, which is the third country in the world in km, a yearly equivalent carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 13–27 million tons could be reached. This value is quite high considering that the cement sector worldwide released about 2.9 Gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2016. Therefore, there is a positive balance in the use of concrete pavements. Furthermore, concrete is a material completely recyclable at the end of its service life and concrete pavement construction requires local resources, avoiding GHG emissions due to transport. An increase in the Spanish freeway network albedo by replacing asphalt pavements with concrete ones will improve the local climate change mitigation. Full article
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Article
Use of Sewage Sludge Ash in the Production of Innovative Bricks—An Example of a Circular Economy
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9330; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13169330 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 472
Abstract
In this paper the properties of clay bricks with 5 wt%, 10 wt%, and 20 wt% sewage sludge ash (SSA) were studied and compared with the properties of control bricks made of 100% clay. Sewage sludge (SS) was collected at two wastewater treatment [...] Read more.
In this paper the properties of clay bricks with 5 wt%, 10 wt%, and 20 wt% sewage sludge ash (SSA) were studied and compared with the properties of control bricks made of 100% clay. Sewage sludge (SS) was collected at two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Croatia—WWTP Zagreb and WWTP Karlovac—and incinerated at a temperature of 900 °C The bricks were produced on a laboratory scale. A total of seven types of bricks were produced—control bricks and six types of bricks as combinations of different wt% of SSA generated from SS that was collected at two different WWTPs. The physical and mechanical properties of produced bricks were tested. Compressive strengths of bricks with 5 wt% SSA (54.0–54.5 N/mm2) and 10 wt% SSA (50.2–51.0 N/mm2) were higher compared to the control bricks (50.4 N/mm2), while bricks with 20 wt% SSA (37.0–43.9) N/mm2) had noticeably lower compressive strenght. The coefficient of saturation was lower for bricks with SSA compared to control bricks. The initial absorption values were more pronounced for SSA fractions of 20 wt%. Full article
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Article
Investigation of Alkali-Silica Reactivity in Sustainable Ultrahigh Performance Concrete
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5680; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13105680 - 19 May 2021
Viewed by 577
Abstract
Considering its superior engineering properties, ultrahigh performance concrete (UHPC) has emerged as a strong contender to replace normal strength concrete (NSC) in diverse construction applications. While the mechanical properties of UHPC have been thoroughly explored, there is still dearth of studies that quantify [...] Read more.
Considering its superior engineering properties, ultrahigh performance concrete (UHPC) has emerged as a strong contender to replace normal strength concrete (NSC) in diverse construction applications. While the mechanical properties of UHPC have been thoroughly explored, there is still dearth of studies that quantify the durability of UHPC, especially for sustainable mixtures made with local materials. Therefore, this research aims at investigating the alkali-silica reactivity (ASR) potential in sustainable UHPC in comparison with that of NSC. Sustainable UHPC mixtures were prepared using waste untreated coal ash (CA), raw slag (RS), and locally produced steel fibers. UHPC and benchmark NSC specimens were cast for assessing the compressive strength, flexural strength, and ASR expansion. Specimens were exposed to two curing regimes: accelerated ASR conditions (as per ASTM C1260) and normal water curing. UHPC specimens incorporating RS achieved higher compressive and flexural strengths in comparison with that of identical UHPC specimens made with CA. ASR expansion of control NSC specimens exceeded the ASTM C1260 limits (>0.20% at 28 days). Conversely, experimental results demonstrate that UHPC specimens incurred much less ASR expansion, well below the ASTM C1260 limits. Moreover, UHPC specimens incorporating steel fibers exhibited lower expansion compared to that of companion UHPC specimens without fibers. It was also observed that the mechanical properties of NSC specimens suffered more drastic degradation under accelerated ASR exposure compared to UHPC specimens. Interestingly, UHPC specimens exposed to accelerated ASR conditions attained higher mechanical properties compared to that of reference identical specimens cured in normal water. Therefore, it can be concluded that ASR exposure had insignificant effect on sustainable UHPC incorporating CA and RS, especially for specimens incorporating fibers. Results indicate that UHPC is a robust competitor to NSC for the construction of mega-scale projects where exposure to ASR conducive conditions prevails. Full article
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Article
Time-Dependent Strength Behavior, Expansion, Microstructural Properties, and Environmental Impact of Basic Oxygen Furnace Slag-Treated Marine-Dredged Clay in South Korea
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5026; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13095026 - 30 Apr 2021
Viewed by 521
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanical characteristics, microstructural properties, and environmental impact of basic oxygen furnace (BOF) slag-treated clay in South Korea. Mechanical characteristics were determined via the expansion, vane shear, and unconfined compression tests according to various curing [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanical characteristics, microstructural properties, and environmental impact of basic oxygen furnace (BOF) slag-treated clay in South Korea. Mechanical characteristics were determined via the expansion, vane shear, and unconfined compression tests according to various curing times. Scanning electron microscopy was conducted to analyze microstructural properties. Furthermore, environmental impacts were evaluated by the leaching test and pH measurements. According to the results, at the early curing stage (within 15 h), the free lime (F-CaO) content of the BOF slag is a significant factor for developing the strength of the adopted sample. However, the particle size of the BOF slag influences the increase in the strength at subsequent curing times. It was inferred that the strength behavior of the sample exhibits three phases depending on various incremental strength ratios. The expansion magnitude of the adopted samples is influenced by the F-CaO content and also the particle size of the BOF slag. Regarding the microstructural properties, the presence of reticulation structures in the amorphous gels with intergrowths of rod-like ettringite formation was verified inside the sample. Finally, the pH values and heavy metal leachates of the samples were determined within the compatible ranges of the threshold effect levels in the marine sediments of the marine environment standard of the Republic of Korea. Full article
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Review
Conversion of End-of-Life Household Materials into Building Insulating Low-Cost Solutions for the Development of Vulnerable Contexts: Review and Outlook towards a Circular and Sustainable Economy
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4397; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13084397 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
In a world increasingly aware of the environmental cost of the current production/ consumption model, the use of sustainable practices to reduce our environmental impact as a society becomes imperative. One way to reduce this impact is to increase the reuse of materials [...] Read more.
In a world increasingly aware of the environmental cost of the current production/ consumption model, the use of sustainable practices to reduce our environmental impact as a society becomes imperative. One way to reduce this impact is to increase the reuse of materials that are considered, by current definitions of ”waste”, at their end of life. End-of-Life Household Materials (EoLHM) can be defined as household waste materials that still possess exploitable properties, thus making them suitable for reuse. There are several studies in the literature that address the recycling of these materials. When it comes to their reuse, unfortunately, only a limited number of studies are available. This paper aims to fill this gap by investigating the possibility to convert EoLHM, such as clothes or packaging, into low-cost thermal insulating materials for the improvement of the indoor thermal comfort in buildings, especially for households at risk of suffering from energy poverty. For this purpose, a comprehensive literature review and a qualitative analysis of both commercial and EoLHM are proposed. Commercial thermal insulating materials analysis is used as a reference to measure the performance of EoLHM. Important aspects to be considered when choosing suitable EoLHM for a smart conversion and reuse are also investigated. The most important outcome of this investigation is the comprehension that the conversion of EoLHM into insulating material is possible, and it implies a direct reduction in waste production, with environmental benefits and positive social implications. However, some aspects such as adaptability, life expectancy, collection and storage are, at present, in need of further thinking and development to make the EoLHM reuse and re-conversion processes viable on a large (neighborhood/city) scale. Full article
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Review
Pathways to Commercialisation for Brown Coal Fly Ash-Based Geopolymer Concrete in Australia
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4350; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13084350 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 786
Abstract
Utilising geopolymer as a construction material has gained institutional and commercial interest over the past decade, due to its favourable emissions profile as an alternative to carbon-intensive Ordinary Portland Cement-based concrete, which currently accounts for around 7% of global carbon emissions. While significant [...] Read more.
Utilising geopolymer as a construction material has gained institutional and commercial interest over the past decade, due to its favourable emissions profile as an alternative to carbon-intensive Ordinary Portland Cement-based concrete, which currently accounts for around 7% of global carbon emissions. While significant research has been performed into the material properties of geopolymer, the commercialisation of the technology is still in its infancy, and several key barriers require rectification to facilitate more widespread adoption. This article analyses the current state of geopolymer commercialisation, paying particular attention to its commercial application in Australia, and it suggests key research areas, in particular relating to the utilisation of abundant and cheap low-quality fly ash sources such as brown coal-based fly ash, to promote its adoption and build on the momentum gained from the small scale in situ pours of geopolymer concrete. Our analysis indicated that in addition to the barriers relating to material properties, economic, social, and regulatory issues also require further inquiry. Our review also indicated that it is critical to update and improve economic analysis of geopolymer utilisation to forecast future costs of both geopolymer and concrete mixes, which are especially critical in determining any potential financial incentives for the construction industry. Moreover, it is essential to study the social attitudes affecting future geopolymer consumption and to update the regulatory standards governing geopolymer utilisation in Australia, such as the initial steps undertaken by the Low Carbon Living Cooperative Research Centre. Based on this review, it is suggested that solving these key issues would help proliferate geopolymer technology and further aid efforts to create a more environmentally sustainable construction industry. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021

Article
Recycling Untreated Coal Bottom Ash with Added Value for Mitigating Alkali–Silica Reaction in Concrete: A Sustainable Approach
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10631; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su122410631 - 19 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 750
Abstract
Each year, about 730 million tons of bottom ash is generated in coal fired power plants worldwide. This by-product can be used as partial replacement for Portland cement, favoring resource conservation and sustainability. Substantial research has explored treated and processed coal bottom ash [...] Read more.
Each year, about 730 million tons of bottom ash is generated in coal fired power plants worldwide. This by-product can be used as partial replacement for Portland cement, favoring resource conservation and sustainability. Substantial research has explored treated and processed coal bottom ash (CBA) for possible use in the construction industry. The present research explores using local untreated and raw CBA in mitigating the alkali–silica reaction (ASR) of reactive aggregates in concrete. Mortar bar specimens incorporating various proportions of untreated CBA were tested in accordance with ASTM C1260 up to 150 days. Strength activity index (SAI) and thermal analysis were used to assess the pozzolanic activity of CBA. Specimens incorporating 20% CBA achieved SAI greater than 75%, indicating pozzolanic activity. Mixtures incorporating CBA had decreased ASR expansion. Incorporating 20% CBA in mixtures yielded 28-day ASR expansion of less than the ASTM C1260 limit value of 0.20%. Scanning electron microscopy depicted ASR induced microcracks in control specimens, while specimens incorporating CBA exhibited no microcracking. Moreover, low calcium-to-silica ratio and reduced alkali content were observed in specimens incorporating CBA owing to alkali dilution and absorption, consequently decreasing ASR expansion. The toxicity characteristics of CBA indicated the presence of heavy metals below the US-EPA limits. Therefore, using local untreated CBA in concrete as partial replacement for Portland cement can be a non-hazardous alternative for reducing the environmental overburden of cement production and CBA disposal, with the added benefit of mitigating ASR expansion and its associated costly damage, leading to sustainable infrastructure. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Planned Paper 1:

Tentative Title: Effect of Concrete Pavement Albedo on the Climatic Change Mitigation in Spain

Authors: Miguel Ángel Sanjuán 1,* and Aniceto Zaragoza 2

Affiliations:

1 Spanish Institute of Cement and its Applications (IECA), C/ José Abascal, 53, 28003 Madrid, Spain

2 Oficemen, C/ José Abascal, 53, 28003 Madrid, Spain; [email protected]

Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +34-914429166 (M.A.)

Abstract: The widespread use of solar-reflective concrete pavements can mitigate climatic change and urban heat islands (UHI) by cooling the pavements surface that are made with concrete instead of asphalt. The methodology followed is based in the comparison between the asphalt and concrete albedos effect in a specific application and area. In this study we found that a reduction of temperature in the terrestrial surface, equivalent to the removal of 25–50 kgCO2/m2, could be achieved. Considering all the motorways and highways of Spain, which is the third country in the world in km, a yearly reduction of 12 - 25 Gigatons of carbon dioxide could be reached. This value is quite high considering that the cement sector worldwide released about 2.9 Gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2016. Therefore, there is a positive balance in the use of concrete pavements. Furthermore, concrete is a material completely recyclable at the end of its service life and concrete pavements construction requires local resources, avoiding GHG emissions due to transport.

Keywords: civil infrastructure; construction; concrete; CO2 emission; sustainability; albedo; solar reflectance; pavement; cement; asphalt; policy

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