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CIVL3010: Sustainable Systems Engineering (2017 - Semester 1)

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Unit: CIVL3010: Sustainable Systems Engineering (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Senior
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Elzein, Abbas
Session options: Semester 1
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: Engineering graduates apply their technical skills in a wide variety of legal, institutional, and environmental settings, acting as agents and managers of technology-driven social change. Engineering decision-making and problem-solving are made more complex by technical, economic, environmental, social and ethical constraints. In particular, environmental sustainability has given rise to a new framework of engineering analysis that is now an essential part of the work of engineers. The goals of this unit are to introduce students to major problems of environmental deterioration, especially climate change and energy, and to concepts of sustainability within a system dynamics framework, and engage students in active reflection on the role of civil engineers in addressing these issues; to develop the students skills at quantifying the impact of engineering decisions within the broader economic, environmental and socio-cultural contexts; to develop communication skills through participation in group discussions, oral presentations, and written report writing. Lectures, group discussions, case problems and projects are all used in teaching and learning in this unit of study.

At the end of the unit, students will be able to:

a. identify and analyse important ecological, social and ethical issues deriving from technology-driven change, including new paradigms of environmental sustainability within system dynamics framework, especially in relation to long-range air pollution, energy and finite resources.

b. write environmental impact statements for engineering projects and identify and analyse the impacts of infrastructure projects on the social and natural environments.

c. use design and analysis tools such as the Life-Cycle Analysis and the BASIX system to develop better engineering design solutions.

d. understand the influence of organizational, ethical and legal factors on engineering practice.

The secondary objectives of the UoS are:

a. to improve students team-work ability.

b. to improve students communication skills, through verbal and written media.

c. to improve students skills in research and use of library resources.

The syllabus comprises role(s) of civil engineers, historical development of profession, laws of thermodynamics and climate change, energy; a system dynamics approach to sustainability; definitions and practice of sustainability; BASIX design system; environmental impact statements; ethics in engineering.
Assumed Knowledge: MATH1003 AND MATH1005 AND MATH2061.
Timetable: CIVL3010 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 10
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 11
3 Project Work - own time 2.00 1 12
4 Independent Study 2.00 1 11
T&L Activities: Project Laboratory: Group work on 2 projects: environmental impact assessment and green design with Basix. The students are placed in groups. Work is assessed through reports and presentations. Students work on the projects during the laboratory time and in their own time.

Independent Study: Readings and weekly study, following lectures and preceding mid-term and final exam.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
(1) Ability in designing sustainable housing developments. (2) Ability to analyse impacts of engineering decisions, especially in relation to short and long-range air pollution and energy. (3) Ability to write environmental impact statements for engineering projects, including the ability to identify and analyse the impacts of infrastructure projects on the social and natural environments. (4) Ability to develop sustainable design and use of design and analysis tools such as the Life-Cycle Analysis and the BASIX system. Design (Level 2)
(1) An appreciation of the various form of information within the engineering discipline including technical books and reports, research articles, customer requirements, company standards and an appreciation of the main legal definitions. (2) An ability to identify, utilise and locate appropriate information resources including literature, electronic media and through personal interaction with both technical and non-technical audiences. (3) An ability to gather, manage, integrate and critique information attained from various sources in order ascertain the relevant information. Information Seeking (Level 3)
(1) An ability to communicate effectively, clearly and concisely ideas, concepts and solutions to both technical and non-technical audiences. (2) An understanding of the various forms of communication including, listening, oral, written electronic, graphical and mathematical and an appreciation of the appropriate forms to use given the context and audience. Communication (Level 3)
(1) An appreciation of the significance and scope of ethical standards in engineering practice and the responsibility that an engineer espouses within both national and international guidelines. (2) An appreciation of the roles and dimensions of an engineer, and an ability to function effectively as either a team leader or member, within multi-disciplinary and multicultural teams. (3) An appreciation of engineering sustainability and the impact of engineering decisions within the broader economic, environmental and socio-cultural context. Professional Conduct (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 2)
1. Ability to describe and apply the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics and critically appraise their environmental implications
2. Ability to describe anthropogenic climate change including its causes, impacts and implications and critically appraise the links between civil engineering decision-making and climate change
3. Ability to identify, critically assess and mitigate the environmental impacts of engineering developments.
4. Better ability in designing more sustainable engineering solutions through the BASIX system.
5. Ability to build and critically appraise fundamental system regimes and identify key features and properties determining sustainability of systems as well as key leverage points
Communication (Level 3)
6. Ability to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing, on technical topics, with peers and non peers. Ability to speak in public.
Professional Conduct (Level 3)
7. Ability to describe and analyse global environmental problems such as climate change and the role civil engineers play in generating, preventing and resolving these problems.
8. Improved decision-making abilities, through greater social awareness and their strengthened capabilities in ethical, moral and social reasoning.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 BASIX Project-First Report Yes 0.00 Week 3 (Thursday, 10 am) 3, 4, 6, 8,
2 Quiz 1 No 30.00 Week 5 (Thursday, 2 pm) 1, 2,
3 BASIX Project-Final Report Yes 15.00 Week 6 (Friday, 11 am) 3, 4, 6, 8,
4 EIA Project-Progress Report Yes 5.00 Week 7 (Thursday, 10 am) 3, 6, 7, 8,
5 Quiz 2 No 30.00 Week 10 (Thursday, 2 pm) 2, 3, 4, 5, 7,
6 EIA Project-Presentation Yes 10.00 Multiple Weeks 3, 6, 7, 8,
7 EIA Project-Final Report Yes 10.00 Week 13 (Friday, 11 am) 3, 6, 7, 8,
8 Remedial Quiz No 0.00 Week 13 (Thursday, 2 pm)
Assessment Description: Report: Workshop Reports and Presentations. (1) Reports submitted individually before workshops. (2) Group reports submitted after workshops. (3) Group presentations during the workshops.

Quizzes 1 and 2: Covers thermodynamics, energy, climate change, system dynamics and sustainable systems.

In order to pass the UoS, students must score 50% weighted average for quizzes AND 50% weighted average for all 3 projects together.

Students who have failed to score a minimum of 50% average for quiz 1 and 2 are invited to sit the remedial quiz to give them a final chance to score a passing 50% mark on quizzes (details are provided in syllabus found on Blackboard website).

EIA Project: Project work will be assessed as follows: 10-minute progress report (week 5): 5%; 20-minute final oral presentation (weeks 12 and 13): 10%; 2000-word final written report (week 13): 10%.

Assignment: BASIX design workshop report. The students have to write a report describing how they have met the BASIX requirements for a development they have been given and presenting the cost and rationale for their choices.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
  • CIVL 3010 Course Manual
  • Environmental Engineering and Science
  • Environmental Engineering Science

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Lecture: Introduction to UoS: Engineering and Society Perspectives.
Lecture: Energy and Climate I
Lecture: Sustainability in Engineering Practice (Robert Bird Group) + Designing with BASIX Lecture 1
Lecture: Sustainable System II: Structure and Behaviour (continued)
Week 2 Lecture: Energy and Climate II
Lecture: Environmental Impact Assessment and Methods Lecture 1 + Designing with BASIX Lecture 2
Week 3 Lecture: Energy and Climate III
Studio: BASIX Workshop + Thermodynamics Tutorial Exercises
Assessment Due: BASIX Project-First Report
Week 4 Lecture: Energy and Climate IV
Studio: BASIX Workshop + Documentary Movie Session I
Week 5 Lecture: Revision of Energy, Thermodynamics and Climate Change
Assessment Due: Quiz 1
Week 6 Lecture: Sustainable Systems I: Introduction to System Dynamics
Studio: Environmental Impact Assessment Workshop + Documentary Movie Session II
Assessment Due: BASIX Project-Final Report
Week 7 Lecture: Sustainable Systems 2: Structure and Behaviour
Studio: Environmental Impact Assessment Workshop + System Dynamics Tutorial Exercises
Assessment Due: EIA Project-Progress Report
Week 8 Lecture: Monday is a Public Holiday. No lectures.
Week 9 Lecture: Lecture: Sustainable Systems 3: Sustainability, Growth and Inequality
Lecture: Environmental Impact Assessment Lecture 2 + Documentary Movie Session III
Week 10 Lecture: Revision of Sustainable Systems
Assessment Due: Quiz 2
Week 11 Environmental Impact Project Presentations
Week 12 Environmental Impact Project Presentations
Week 13 Environmental Impact Project Presentations
Assessment Due: EIA Project-Final Report
Assessment Due: Remedial Quiz

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Civil Engineering / Arts 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Commerce 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Medical Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Project Management 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Law 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering 2015
Civil / Arts 2015
Civil / Commerce 2015
Civil / Project Management 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Civil (Construction Management) 2015
Civil (Environmental) 2015
Civil (Geotechnical) 2015
Civil / Law 2015
Civil (Structures) 2015
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Arts 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Commerce 2010, 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 2) Yes 81.5%
Information Seeking (Level 3) Yes 0%
Communication (Level 3) Yes 8%
Professional Conduct (Level 3) Yes 10.5%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.