Industrial ecology for infrastructure: Challenges and opportunities to change how we build the world, with Shoshanna Saxe
The infrastructure we build is a statement about what we value, and a strong determinant of what world we will live in going forward. In infrastructure provision, deciding both what to build and how to build have far-reaching consequences in time and space. In many ways, an ideal set up for industrial ecology thinking. However, while there is an increasing use of LCA and other industrial ecology tools to study the environmental impacts of the built world, functional application of these methods struggles with challenges related to the complex nature of infrastructure products and delivery. These challenges include the scale of infrastructure projects in space, their persistence once built, the bespoke nature of infrastructure design and delivery, and limited data. In this talk I will discuss ongoing research in my group at the University of Toronto to think through the holistic impacts of infrastructure choices and advance the evidence base upon which to make decisions about what to build (what not to build) and how to build the infrastructure we choose.
Bio: Dr. Shoshanna Saxe is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering and the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Infrastructure. She investigates the relationship between the infrastructure we build and the society we create to identify opportunities – and pathways – to better align infrastructure provision with sustainability. She has been recognized by Clean 50 as one of Canada’s emerging environmental leaders and was awarded the 2019 Engineering Medal – Young Engineer. She sits on the board of the International Society for Industrial Ecology.