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Module Aims and Learning Outcomes:

This module will develop the theme of the role and responsibility of the engineer within society and enable the student to place sustainable development within the context of professional engineering practice. To support the successful professional practice, as defined by the Engineering Council, engineers need social literacy and an appreciation of the wider issues in sustainable development which are the focus of this module.

Module learning outcomes:

Knowledge & Understanding:

1 - You will be able to critically define aspects of sustainable development pertinent to engineering practice,

2 - You will be able to critically appraise data obtained through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3 - You will be able to apply ethical judgement to demanding situations at the interface between society and technology.

Personal Values Attributes:

4 - You will be able to recognise professional obligations to society and the environment.

Coursework Overview

A critical task for engineering practitioners is the management of schemes to support society to become more sustainable. Nearly every activity of modern life must reduce its environmental impact for sustainability goals to be delivered, this in turn requires both technological innovation and behaviour change. As engineering practitioners undertake innovative and problem solving activities it is important that the needs of diverse stakeholders are considered.

A core activity for engineering practitioners employed within the renewable energy sector is the management of the deployment of energy generating technologies within the urban, rural, coastal or wilderness environment. In addition to understanding the function of generating devices, their supporting infrastructure and project management such engineers must be familiar with general aspects of sustainable development.

Coursework Tasks to be completed by Students

To examine your awareness and critical understanding of the application of analysis tools. To demonstrate your ability through application of software to obtain environmental impact data. To show your ability to critically discuss the outcomes and comment on data uncertainty.

Task 1:

You will work in a group for this component of assignment on LCA study. The group work involves planning, specifying goal and scope, obtaining data and doing the inventory analysis. The interpretation and critical discussion of findings along with discussion on data and ethical/social issue should be your individual work, please take note of the marks allocation for the division of group and individual marks.

Using the LCA software SimaPro, conduct a short Life Cycle Assessment following the four step approach outlined in ISO14040 standards on an allocated scenario.

Each group will be allocated a scenario to develop during the assessment during the timetabled workshop sessions

Task 2:

Based upon a selected or allocated product use the CES EduPack EcoAudit tool to obtain potential impact figures for a range of material selection choices. Consider how you determine potential range of values that may be obtained to represent the use of the product and present these data in terms of the use that may  be made of the tool’s output. You will include all cradle to cradle considerations such as extraction, primary processing, secondary processing, transportation, use, recovery and unavoidable disposal. You will also discuss aspects of material supply chain risk such as abundance, Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, conflict and legislation and regulation.

Present your results in a short report which will define your inputs and assumptions with an evaluation of conclusions reached, their impact and potential limitations of the 'EcoAudit' analysis approach. You should include both the available data for the item itself and also the subsequent use. This will require you to make some assumptions, you may use assumptions within public sources and/or your own experience as a guide.

The following items will be made available on the eLP module site:

Student copy of the CES EduPack software

CES Edupack support tutorial and guide material.

An example exercise and solution

The allocated renewable energy component will be made available during the classes in addition workshop facilities may be called upon during the initial investigation.

You are required to consider a product and to carry out an EcoAudit of the original and modified product or artefact.

You are expected to consider alternative material types (note not material grades) and may make and state assumptions for any parameters not given.

Consider in your discussion the output from the EduPack EcoAudit and additional factors relating to sustainable material choices informed by the full contents of each material's database within the software. Make suggestions as to the whole life energy impact.

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