Sustainable and resilient infrastructure in Canada


- Ottawa, Ontario


Dr. Lounis at the NRC's Structures and Corrosion Laboratory investigating the performance of concrete beams.

The development of infrastructure systems that are sustainable and resilient is critical for the quality of life of Canadians and the economic development of Canada. The failure of core public infrastructure systems can lead to fatalities, injuries, and increased costs to infrastructure owners, users, communities and governments.

Drs. Zoubir Lounis (National Research Council) and Therese McAllister (U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology) addressed this important subject in their published paper titled, Risk-based Decision Making for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Systems.

The researchers led the development of an innovative risk-based methodology for the design and rehabilitation of infrastructure systems that ensure their resilience against multiple hazards, including extreme weather events, and cumulative damage effects, like corrosion, fatigue, and combination thereof. The paper identified key performance indicators that can be used to design for the sustainability and resilience of infrastructure systems, including safety, service life, functionality, recovery time, recovery costs, and CO2 emissions. The proposed methodology addressed the social, economic, and environmental measures of sustainability and resilience and was implemented within a probabilistic framework. The approach was demonstrated on the case of a reinforced concrete highway bridge deck, where it was found that high performance concrete decks were more sustainable, more resilient, and more cost-effective than normal concrete decks over the life-cycle of the bridge decks.

Dr. Lounis began focusing his work on the consideration of both infrastructure sustainability and infrastructure resilience in 2012 as a follow-up to a project that he undertook for Infrastructure Canada in 2010 which focused on the development of key performance indicators for the assessment of state, performance, and management of Canada's core public infrastructure.

Drs. Lounis and McAllister started their collaborative work on a white paper on infrastructure sustainability and resilience as part of their involvement in Task Group 3 on Risk Assessment of Structural Infrastructure Facilities and Risk-Based Decision Making of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)'s Technical Council on Life-cycle Performance, Safety, Reliability and Risk of Structural Systems.

Drs. Lounis and McAllister were recently awarded the 2018 Ernest E. Howard Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for providing a significant contribution to the advancement of structural engineering.

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