Sustainable Infrastructure News

Green Roof Project Examines Energy Efficiency, Stormwater Management

Students construct a green roof.
Andrew Sachs, integrative studies, collaborates with Alia Gholoom, civil and infrastructure engineering, on construction of a green roof on top of the Rappahannock Parking Deck. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Rappahannock Parking Deck got a new roof—a green roof, to be specific, as part of a graduate research project.

The project will examine different aspects of environmental sustainability in infrastructure, led by professors Paul Houser in the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, Viviana Maggioni in the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering and Dann Sklarew in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.

Read more about the project.




Mason Team Looking at How Nature Helps Protect Against Hurricanes

Volgenau professor, student in Chesapeake Bay
Dr. Eleonore Paquier, left, and Jana Haddad collecting data in the Chesapeake Bay.

Hurricane Sandy revealed how vulnerable traditional hurricane protection methods are when it smashed New York Harbor with 32-foot high waves in 2012.

At least 185 people in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean died from the hurricane, which caused $65 billion in economic losses.

"The traditional approach was to rely solely on hard engineering structures, which are expensive and sometimes ineffective," said water resources engineering professor Celso Ferreira of George Mason University's Volgenau School of Engineering. "After Hurricane Sandy, there was a big move to look at a hybrid approach that uses nature to enhance flood defenses."

Ferreira and his student team pulled on waders and hip boots to begin installing instruments that measure wave action, storm surges, tides and other details in the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay. Read more about flood control





Hazel-Endowed Chair to Support Eminent Scholar

An endowed chair in George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering has been established that will support a distinguished faculty member in civil and infrastructure engineering, and an annual symposium on solving the infrastructure challenges of Northern Virginia and the nation. The Eleanor and Bill Hazel Endowed Chair in Civil Infrastructure Engineering will honor Eleanor and the late William A. “Bill” Hazel of Broad Run, Va. It will be funded through a $3 million endowment comprising gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations in honor of the Hazels’ dedication to Northern Virginia and George Mason. The chair was established with a lead gift of $1 million from the William A. Hazel Family Foundation and supported with a lead gift from Sidney O. Dewberry, a longtime colleague, campaign leader and friend of the Hazels. It will be awarded to an outstanding engineering scholar following an international search. Read more about the gift's impact


David Lattanzi, assistant professor in the Sid & Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering, uses data gathered by UAVs to engineer safer bridge inspections.

Engineering Safer Bridge Inspections

George Mason University engineering professor David Lattanzi was inspecting a bridge several years ago in his hometown of Pittsburgh when a drunk driver sped past “lane closed ahead” signs and slammed into the final sign—a giant flashing, lighted arrow—the only barrier remaining between Lattanzi and the driver.

The driver walked away from the crash, but Lattanzi and his crew were left shaken. “I’ve almost gotten killed on the job three times,” he says. “Inspecting bridges is really dangerous for humans, and we don’t get good results.” He knew there had to be a better way.

Last summer the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 7,500 bridges—more than any other organization in the United States—took Lattanzi’s idea on a large-scale test drive in Alaska.

That test drive included a UAV, or drone, zipping around and snapping photographs of the 280-foot Placer River Bridge, the longest timber bridge in North America, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Read more about Lattanzi's work


Professor, Students Work with VDoT to Evaluate New Field Technology to Support Bridge Installation

Burak Tanyu, assistant professor in the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering, his graduate students, and the Virginia Department of Transportation are currently installing a bridge abutment in Harrisonburg, Va. This  work aims to evaluate a new technology that is faster and more economical to construct than conventional cast in-place concrete structures. The research team is placing more than 10 types of instruments including 40 individual sensors to evaluate the performance of the structure in the next two years. Read more about the bridge installation