Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor's Name

Yimin Zhu

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Caesar Abi Shdid

Advisor's Name

Nakin Suksawang

Advisor's Name

Shu-Ching Chen

Advisor's Name

Girma Bitsuamlak

Keywords

Environmental impact, life cycle assessment, multi-agent systems, decision-making, system dynamics, multi-objective optimization, analytic network process, highway construction

Date of Defense

7-15-2011

Abstract

Environmentally conscious construction has received a significant amount of research attention during the last decades. Even though construction literature is rich in studies that emphasize the importance of environmental impact during the construction phase, most of the previous studies failed to combine environmental analysis with other project performance criteria in construction. This is mainly because most of the studies have overlooked the multi-objective nature of construction projects. In order to achieve environmentally conscious construction, multi-objectives and their relationships need to be successfully analyzed in the complex construction environment. The complex construction system is composed of changing project conditions that have an impact on the relationship between time, cost and environmental impact (TCEI) of construction operations. Yet, this impact is still unknown by construction professionals. Studying this impact is vital to fulfill multiple project objectives and achieve environmentally conscious construction. This research proposes an analytical framework to analyze the impact of changing project conditions on the relationship of TCEI. This study includes green house gas (GHG) emissions as an environmental impact category. The methodology utilizes multi-agent systems, multi-objective optimization, analytical network process, and system dynamics tools to study the relationships of TCEI and support decision-making under the influence of project conditions. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is applied to the evaluation of environmental impact in terms of GHG. The mixed method approach allowed for the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. Structured interviews of professionals in the highway construction field were conducted to gain their perspectives in decision-making under the influence of certain project conditions, while the quantitative data were collected from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for highway resurfacing projects. The data collected were used to test the framework. The framework yielded statistically significant results in simulating project conditions and optimizing TCEI. The results showed that the change in project conditions had a significant impact on the TCEI optimal solutions. The correlation between TCEI suggested that they affected each other positively, but in different strengths. The findings of the study will assist contractors to visualize the impact of their decision on the relationship of TCEI.

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