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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stephen T Muench
CEE 599
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Special topics in civil and environmental engineering offered occasionally by permanent or visiting faculty members.

Class description

This course is designed to overview sustainability as it applies to roadway design/construction, what features of a roadway can contribute to sustainability (and how), and how one can go about analyzing a roadway in order to quantify sustainability in a meaningful way. Subjects will include (1) an introduction to sustainability, (2) where transportation fits into sustainability, (3) a review of current regulations and standards for roadways, (4) sustainability best practices divided up into categories, (5) sustainability assessment using life cycle assessment, and (6) sustainability assessment using rating systems. The topics are focused on roadway design and construction. While planning (e.g., where should the road go? Should there be a road? What other alternatives are there?) and maintenance/operations are vital components to a sustainable society; we leave those topics largely to other classes. The entering argument here is this: You are going to build a road. Our key goal is then to make such a road more sustainable than it otherwise might be. There is no such thing as a sustainable road textbook so we will make use of online resources available for free. Course content is broadly applicable regardless of the state or country in which the student resides.

Student learning goals

Define sustainability and describe the general global situation that has resulted in an increased emphasis on sustainability.

Describe transportation’s role in this global sustainability context and, specifically, the contribution of roads.

Describe current U.S. regulatory requirements and standard practices in roadway design and construction.

Identify and describe sustainability best practices for roadways related to environment, water, access, equity, construction, and materials.

Describe life cycle assessment (LCA) to include strengths, weaknesses and potential uses for roadways.

Analyze a roadway project using software LCA tools and rate an actual roadway for sustainability using Greenroads.

General method of instruction

Online learning. Discussion boards, assignments.

Recommended preparation

Strap it on and bring it!

Class assignments and grading

2 major assignments (with several parts to each one) described below:

Road Project. The road project is an ongoing assignment throughout the quarter meant to reinforce and bring together most of the course learning objectives. There are 4 separate assignments related to the road project due throughout the quarter. Please check Collect It for assignments and due dates. It is critical that you select a road project early and collect the needed documents.

Research Paper. All your assignments this quarter will all relate to the “road project” and the “research paper.” The research paper is meant to allow you to dig deeper into a sustainability best practice or related item and exercise some research and writing skills. There are 3 separate assignments related to the research paper due throughout the quarter. Please check Collect It for assignments and due dates.

The following elements will make up your final course grade: Discussion: 30% Research Paper: 30% Road project: 40%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Stephen T Muench
Date: 03/20/2013