the Constructed Environment, the participants identified an array of new technologies and materials, ongoing initiatives, and financing options that can provide the basis for moving forward with new approaches to infrastructure renewal and investment.
Research has yielded technologies for monitoring the condition and performance and for improving the management of infrastructure systems; new materials for constructing and repairing infrastructure components; new knowledge about the interrelated nature of water and wastewater, power, transportation, and telecommunications systems; and models to simulate the consequences of deteriorating infrastructure so that preventive actions can be taken to avoid failures.
Today, self-diagnosing, self-healing, and self-repairing systems can be designed to provide for greater resiliency, fewer long-term service disruptions, and lower life-cycle costs (Amin and Stringer, 2008). Buildings can be designed to supply their own electricity using solar collectors and, in some cases, to generate excess electricity that can be sold back to power companies. Wind turbines and more powerful batteries can augment other energy sources for in-place power generation. Decentralized and “package” systems for water and wastewater treatment offer new possibilities for expanding centralized systems or building new stand-alone systems. New telecommunication systems, such as wireless mesh, may be more resilient than current systems and may help allow for more telework and less commuting (Doshi et al., 2007). In Europe magnetic trains are being built to take advantage of existing rail lines while also cutting the cost of energy to power the train by one-third (Toffler Associates, 2008).
Ongoing research has the potential to significantly change how services are provided in the future. For instance, researchers are studying the use of microbial fuel cells to convert complex wastes to electricity, with a focus on wastewater treatment or solid-waste facilities (Lovley, 2009). The first prototype is currently installed on the grounds of a brewery, using organic wastes from the brewery to produce electricity. Research and development of systems that produce electricity and hot water using existing asphalt roadways and parking areas are also underway (WPI, 2008). And water treatment systems that use ultraviolet