Sustainable Bridges for Every Bridge Engineer

Sustainable Bridges for Every Bridge Engineer
Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane, Austrailia. Photo: Pulv (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Daniel Whittemore, AI Engineers, Inc., Middletown, CT


Sustainable Bridges for Every Bridge Engineer
Water powered lights on bridge in Ballybofey, Ireland.Photo: L&H Ecotech
As "green design" has become mainstream, examples of bridges with notable "green" features can now be found all over the world. . The Kurilpa Pedestrian Bridge in Brisbane, Australia, designed by Cox Architects, uses an array of 84 solar panels to power LED lights to illuminate its deck. In Ballybofey, Ireland, engineers have installed a water-powered light system powered by the currents of the river it crosses. And in San Diego, California, engineers have proposed a new structure that has an LED light show powered every night by 100% renewable sources including wind turbines. Do these stately, impressive crossings represent the leading edge of sustainable bridge design?

Before we can begin to answer that question, we need to first define the term "sustainable bridge." I suspect this term evokes images of structures like those listed above in the minds of many of my fellow bridge engineers when they hear that term. Or, perhaps they imagine picturesque glued-laminated wooden structures blending harmo- niously with their surroundings deep in a national park. Notably, the one common thread would be that these images would appear to have very little applicability to the real world, day-to-day problems faced by bridge owners or bridge professionals. Being pragmatic, many of us would then quickly dismiss the concept of a sustainable bridge as something impractical, or at best, of limited usefulness outside of the arena of green design.

The Triple Bottom Line

Sustainable Bridges for Every Bridge Engineer
Example of Sustainability Triple Bottom Line
In reality, such images and the basic assumptions behind them are off the mark. To reframe the discussion, a sustainable design of any stripe is commonly defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Extrapolating from this basic definition, a sustainable engineering project such as a bridge can therefore be defined as one that is conceived, designed, constructed, operated, maintained, and eventually put out of service in such a fashion that these activities demand as little as possible from the natural, material and energy resources of the surrounding supporting community.

Sustainable Bridges for Every Bridge Engineer
Hartford, CT, USA. In order to reconnect downtown Hartford back to the Connecticut River that birthed it, the city literally built a greenway right over Interstate I-91 (Seen running left and right in the photo).
The concept suggested by this definition is often described as the sustainable triple bottom line. In this visualization of sustainability, what we are looking for are engineering projects that have the most positive impact at the intersection of the People it intends to serve, the Planet on both a micro and macro scale, and the long-term Profit of everyone involved throughout the life of the project. By this test, a sustainable bridge can't be one that serves the people it serves, but imposes a high lifetime cost. Nor could it be an ecologically friendly and economical crossing that serves noone. Rather, a completely sustainable bridge is one that strives to serve the people that use it and the environment it is connected to at a palatable long- term cost. A sustainable bridge isn't, then, defined by any one feature on the crossing, but by looking at the structure in its entire context.

Are the bridges in the first paragraph sustainable? The answer is: they might be, but the features mentioned above, by themselves, don't tell the complete story about each bridge's impact to the triple bottom line. With a definition in hand, we can now start to look at any of the structures above or a proposed bridge project and begin to measure, and hopefully plan for, its sustainability.

NBM&CW September 2011

Click Here
To Know More / Contact The Manufacturer
Please provide your details we will contact you as soon as possible
Please let us know your name.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your Designation.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your City.
Please let us know your State.
Please let us know your Country.
Please let us know your Contact Number.
Please let us know your email address.
Please brief your query.

Innovation in Bridges Components and Materials

The Infrastructure Industry is continuously evolving; new roads, elevated corridors, expressways, railways, dedicated corridors, metros, mono-rails are being constructed all the time. They also require constant Read More ...

World's Most Amazing Bridges

The 6.5 feet wide walkway in the Hongyagu Scenic Area in Hebei province hangs 755 feet above the ground, and is the world's longest bridge, which opened in 2017-end. Designed by Tel Aviv architect Haim Dotan Read More ...

An Experimental Study to Estimate Loss of Prestress and Determining Fundamental Natural Frequecny of Prestressed Concrete Bridge

Prestressed Concrete (PSC) structures especially bridges are being largely used all over the world due to their multifarious advantages in terms of structural behaviour, economy as well as aesthetical Read More ...

Experimental Investigations on the Structural Behaviour of a Distressed Bridge

Four Span Pipe Bridge
Distressed structures require necessary remedial measures in order to restore their original structural properties like strength and stiffness. Validating the effectiveness of the proposed qualitative remedial Read More ...

World’s Aesthetic Foot Bridges

Foot Bridges
Footbridges have a longer history than road or railway bridges. Ancient footbridges comprised of natural materials such as roots of trees, ropes, stones, masonry, and wood. Modern footbridges are built Read More ...

Load Testing of Second Thane Creek Bridge, Mumbai

Thane Creek Bridge
Load testing is done to determine the safe load carrying capacity of structures, determining if specific legal or overweight vehicles can safely cross the structure or needs to be restricted and the level of post Read More ...

Corrosion Preventive Methods Adopted for Concrete Bridges During Construction

Bridge in Central Kerala
Cement concrete is a versatile building material and is the second most consumed material in the world, after water. It is made using porland cement, coarse, and fine aggregates, water and one or more Read More ...

Recent Developments in Design and Construction of Concrete Road Bridges

Concrete Road Bridges
Planning, design and construction of bridges and flyovers is very challenging at places with space constraints. There has been rapid development with the availability of high strength steel and concrete Read More ...

Integral Abutment Bridges

Integral Abutment Bridges
The conventional bridges use expansion joints and bearings to accommodate the thermal movements of the bridge. However, they don't completely eliminate the distress caused because Read More ...

Restoration of 45 Years Old PSC Bridge by External Post Tensioning

Bridge Restoration
The use and advantages of Post Tensioning are very well known in the Civil Engg Industry as it has been in use for the last 40 to 50 years. Post tensioning is one of the best methods to induce stresses in the concrete Read More ...

Signature Bridge: A Landmark Engineering Marvel in the Making

Signature Bridge
Wazirabad Bridge or Signature Bridge Project is an initiative of Delhi Government, planned during the Commonwealth Games. It was conceptualized to be a landmark tourist icon that would also speed Read More ...

Analysis of Integral Abutment Bridge by Grillage Method

Integral Abutment Bridge
An integral bridge may be defined as having no expansion joints or sliding bearings, the deck is continuous across the length of the bridge. Integral bridges are alternatively referred to as integral abutment Read More ...

Soil Structure Interaction of Integral Bridge Using Finite Element Method

Soil Structure Interaction
A type of bridge that is used extensively in road applications in particular is the integral abutment bridge (IAB). The concept of "integral abutment bridge" has recently become a topic of remarkable Read More ...

Rehabilitation of Distressed Bridges

Cracks in Ravi Bridge
Before carrying out any testing of the concrete structures using NDT methods, visual inspection of the structure is a must. Visual inspection is not confined to the surface, it also include examination of bearings Read More ...

Strengthening of Mithi River Bridge at Mumbai Airport

Mithi River Bridge
Strengthening of RCC structural elements is a common task for maintenance nowadays. For the purpose of strengthening, several materials and methods are available such as sprayed concrete Read More ...

Bridge Health Management

Bridge Health Management
Bridge maintenance is necessary to keep all bridges traffic worthy. Immediately on completion of a bridge there is a need to keep observation on its behaviour under various conditions Distress if any Read More ...

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week