MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub
Resilience

Resilience

Resilience

The risk of hazards like natural disasters and extreme heat is underestimated. Stronger construction to mitigate it is undervalued.

MIT CSHub studies how cities can be made more resilient to hazards through investment in stronger, cooler construction.

Our research integrates neighborhood texture, the density and configuration of buildings in an area, into hazard risk and loss analysis to reveal the value of stronger construction, identify areas and groups most at financial risk, and understand the greenhouse gas emissions of less strong construction. Additionally, our investigation of cool pavements has shown how they cool cities and the climate.

Infrastructure damage caused by natural hazards in the U.S. exceeds $50 billion annually, with losses from earthquakes, hurricanes, and fire averaging around $6 billion, $28 billion, and $15 billion, respectively. And, moreover, these costs are trending upward.


CSHub Research Brief: “Molecular Dynamics-based Resilience Assessment of Structures”

Ongoing Projects

To provide a comprehensive picture of the economic vulnerability of structures in a specific community when subject to different hazards, CSHub focuses on the vulnerability assessment of buildings considering the neighborhood texture-driven pressure amplification and related costs of repair and recovery. The outcome of this research will serve the community as a tool to quantify and visualize the vulnerability of their neighborhood considering the construction method and local climate conditions.

In this project, inspired by molecular modeling and based on the structure types and components for several hazards, building-specific fragility curves will be developed. In addition to the variety of hazards, the performance of building components such as windows, siding, doors, and roofs will be added to the modeling portfolio through a combination of analysis and validation data. The result outputs will demonstrate how the fragility curves can enable a performance-based approach to resilience rating systems. The outcome of this research will be used in conjunction with other hazard resistance tools and life cycle economic and environmental analysis tools in support of performance-based resilience ratings.

In order to forecast fluvial and pluvial flooding risks, CSHub will develop a framework that incorporates above-ground city textures while detecting the flow of flooding on the surface. The outcome of this project is targeted to support rapid assessments of current infrastructure to the risks of climate variability, and climate change, as well as urban and suburban land use change. The tool will also be beneficial to agencies that are currently assessing the cost of climate change adaptation on urban infrastructure.

Application Areas

The Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) causes expansion and cracking in concrete. This can result in structural problems in concrete infrastructure that can limit the infrastructure's service life and also generate high maintenance costs. CSHub research seeks to better understand the reaction and its mechanisms, which is key to determining solutions that will prolong the life of concrete infrastructure.

News
Research Briefs
  • Investigating the Mechanisms of ASR Using Atomistic Methods (July 2020)
  • Simulating the Formation of ASR Gels (April 2019)
  • Mechanical Properties of Alkali-Silica Gels (August 2017)
  • Atomistic Modeling of ASR Gel (August 2017)
  • Two-Phase Model of Pavement Fracture (June 2016)
  • Bottom-up Modeling of ASR in Concrete (March 2016)
Publications
  • Dupuis, R; Béland, L.K. & Pellenq, R. Molecular simulation of silica gels: Formation, dilution, and drying, Physical Review Materials, Volume 3, 7, 2019.
  • Dufresne, A., Arayro, J., Zhou, T., Ioannidou, I., Ulm, F.J., Pellenq, R., & Béland L. K. Atomistic and mesoscale simulation of sodium and potassium adsorption in cement paste, The Journal of Chemical Physics, Volume 149, 70, 2018.

Creep, the gradual structural deformation in concrete under a load, it is known to impact on the durability of concrete structures. CSHub researchers are working to better understand what causes creep starting at the nanoscale.

News
Research Briefs
  • Toward Understanding Cement Paste Creep (January 2017)
  • Holding It Together - C-S-H Cohesion (December 2011)
  • Predicting CSH Aging (March 2013)
Publications
  • Cao, P., Short, M.P., and Yip, S. "Understanding the mechanisms of amorphous creep through molecular simulation," PNAS, December 26, 2017, vol. 114 no. 52.
  • Bauchy, M., Masoero, E., Ulm, F.-J., & Pellenq, R. Creep of Bulk C-S-H: Insights from Molecular Dynamics Simulations, in C. Hellmich, B. Pichler, J. Kollegger (eds.), CONCREEP 10: Mechanics and Physics of Creep, Shrinkage, and Durability of Concrete and Concrete Structures, ASCE, 2015
  • Masoero E., Bauchy, M., Del Gado, E., Manzano, H., Pellenq, R. M, Ulm, F.-J., & Yip, S. Kinetic Simulations of Cement Creep: Mechanisms from Shear Deformations of Glasses, C. Hellmich, B. Pichler, J. Kollegger (eds.), CONCREEP 10 : Mechanics and Physics of Creep, Shrinkage, and Durability of Concrete and Concrete Structures, ASCE, 2015
  • Short, M. and Yip, S., "Multiscale materials modelling at the mesoscale," Nature Materials, Volume 12, September 2013.
  • Vandamme, M.; Ulm, F.J., "Nanoindentation investigation of creep properties of calcium silicate hydrates," Cement and Concrete Research, Volume 52, Pages 38-52, 2013

Freeze-thaw damage is a potentially serious deterioration process that occurs in concrete structures in cold climates. Premature damage to concrete slabs during freezing and thawing cycles represents a major challenge to pavement durability and resilience. Our research on this topic begins at the nano-scale with the goal of connecting mesoscale models to concepts like resilience and permeability. An improved understanding of freeze-thaw and damage mechanisms will enable the development of quantitative durability models.

Research Briefs
  • Modeling the Freeze-Thaw Damage Mechanism in Cement (January 2019)
  • Capillary Stress During Cement Drying Shrinkage (June 2018)
  • Minimizing Thermal Cracking in Concrete Pavements (November 2016)
  • Examining Freeze-Thaw Damage at the Microscopic Scale (August 2016)
  • Two-Phase Model of Pavement Fracture (June 2016)
  • Modeling Freeze-Thaw in Concrete (May 2015)

 

In hazard-prone areas, hazard-induced maintenance costs can be significant over the lifetime of a building. In fact, the costs of hazard-related repairs can exceed the initial building cost. Our team has developed a building life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) approach that incorporates operational costs associated with energy consumption and repairs due to damage from hazards. Our case studies have demonstrated that investing in more hazard-resistant residential construction in certain locations is very cost-effective.

News
Topic Summaries
  • Fact Sheet: Resilient Buildings (May 2020)
  • Topic Summary: City Texture and Urban Resilience (March 2020)
  • Information Sheet: Building Resilience (May 2018)
  • Building Life Cycle Cost Analysis: Life Cycle Costs of Hazard Resistant Buildings (February 2017)
Research Briefs
  • Molecular Dynamics-based Resilience Assessment of Structures (May 2021)
  • Incorporating Neighborhood Texture Into Hurricane Loss Estimation (March 2021)
  • Precipitation Flooding in Urban Environments (March 2021)
  • Molecular Dynamics-based Resilience Assessment of Structure (July 2020)
  • Generating Building-specific Fragility Curves (May 2019)
  • Validation of Molecular Dynamics-Based Structural Damage Models (March 2019)
  • Creating Customized Fragility Curves for Resilient Building (November 2018)
  • Resilience Assessment of Structures Using Molecular Dynamics (June 2018)
  • Prioritizing Resilient Retrofits (February 2018)
  • Planning More Resilient Cities (March 2017)
  • A Break-Even Hazard Mitigation Metric (July 2016)
  • Quantifying Hazard Life-Cycle Cost (August 2014)
  • Hazard Mitigation Assessment Methodologies (August 2013)
  • Quantitative Assessment of Resilience in Residential Building Envelope Systems (March 2013)
Publications
  • Keremides, Konstantinos; Qomi, Mohammad Javad Abdolhosseini; Pellenq, Roland J. M.; and Ulm, Franz-Josef. Potential-of-Mean-Force Approach for Molecular Dynamics–Based Resilience Assessment of Structures” Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Volume 144, Issue 8 (2018)
  • Noori, M., Miller, R., Kirchain, R., Gregory, J., "How much should be invested in hazard mitigation? Development of a streamlined hazard mitigation cost assessment framework," International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (2018)
  • Noshadravan, A.; Miller, T.R.; and Gregory, J. "A Lifecycle Cost Analysis of Residential Buildings Including Natural Hazard Risk" Journal of Construction and Engineering Management (2007).

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers all life-cycle phases from initial construction to demolition. For pavements, this includes the operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, and factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. CSHub models quantify environmental impacts across a pavement’s life cycle from manufacturing to disposal and offer detailed analyses of the use phase.

News
Topic Summaries
  • Mitigating Climate Change with Reflective Pavements (November 2020)
  • Context Dependent Pavement Life Cycle Analysis (July 2019)
  • Life Cycle Thinking: Pavements (March 2018)
Research Briefs
  • Life Cycle Carbon Uptake of the United States Pavement Network (January 2021)
  • Impact of Use Phase in Pavement Life Cycle Assessment: A Case Study of Alternative Designs in Different Contexts (April 2014)
  • Key Drivers of Uncertainty in Pavement LCA (November 2012)
  • Comparative Pavement LCAs With Uncertainty (June 2012)
  • Network, Pavements and Fuel Consumption (April 2012)
  • Adopting a Life Cycle Perspective (April 2011)
  • Designing for Sustainable Pavements (March 2011)
Publications
  • Gregory, J., AzariJafari, H., Vahidi, E., Guo, F., Ulm, F.J., Kirchain, R. "The role of concrete in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of US buildings and pavements."PNAS. September 14, 2021 118 (37).
  • Guo, F., AzariJafari, H., Gregory, J., Kirchain, R. "Environmental and economic evaluations of treatment strategies for pavement network performance-based planning", Transportation Research D: Transport and Environment. Volume 99, October 2021, 103016
  • AzariJafari, H., Guest, G., Kirchain, R., Gregory, J., Amor, B. "Towards comparable environmental product declarations of construction materials: Insights from a probabilistic comparative LCA approach", Building and Environment, 190: 2021, 107542. 2021.
  • Xin Xu, Mehdi Akbarian, Jeremy Gregory, Randolph Kirchain, "Role of the use phase and pavement-vehicle interaction in comparative pavement life cycle assessment as a function of context", Journal of Cleaner Production, 2019.
  • M. Akabarian, F. Ulm, X. Xu, R. Kirchain, J. Gregory, A. Louhghalam, J. Mack, “Overview of pavement life cycle assessment use phase research at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub”, ASCE T&DI International Airfield and Highway Pavements Conference, Chicago, IL, July 21-24, 2019.
  • Xu, X., Gregory, J., &  Kirchain, R. "Role of the Use Phase and Pavement-Vehicle Interaction in Comparative Pavement Life Cycle Assessment," Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting, 2018.
  • Kirchain, R., Gregory, J., Olivetti, E. "Environmental life-cycle assessment." Nature Materials, 16 693–697 (2017)
  • J. Gregory, A. Noshadravan, O. Swei, X. Xu, R. Kirchain, “The importance of incorporating uncertainty into pavement life cycle cost and environmental impact analyses,” Proceedings of the Pavement Life-Cycle Assessment Symposium 2017, Champaign, IL, April 12-13, 2017
  • Gregory, J., Noshadravan, A., Olivetti, E.A., Kirchain, R., "A Methodology for Robust Comparative Life Cycle Assessments Incorporating Uncertainty." Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 50: Issue. 12: Pages. 6397-6405.
  • Louhghalam A., Akbarian, M., Ulm F-J. "Carbon management of infrastructure performance: Integrated big data analytics and pavement-vehicle-interactions". Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 142, Part 2, 20 January 2017, Pages 956-964. 2016
  • Xu, X., Wildnauer, M., Gregory, J., & Kirchain, R. "Accounting for Variation in Life Cycle Inventories: The Case of Portland Cement Production in the U.S.", R.E. Kirchain et al. (Eds), REWAS 2016: Towards Materials Resource Sustainability, Springer AG.
  • J. Mack, J. Gregory, R. Kirchain, “Accounting for Rehabilitation Activity Uncertainty in a Pavement Life Cycle Assessment using Probability and Decision Tree Analysis,” Proceedings of the International Concrete Sustainability Conference, Miami, FL, May 11-13, 2015.
  • Xu, X., Gregory J., Kirchain R., "Role of the Use Phase and Pavement-Vehicle Interaction in Comparative Pavement Life Cycle Assessment" Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting. No. 15-4011. 2015.
  • Noshadravan A., Xu X., Gregory J., Kirchain R., “Uncertainty management in comparative life-cycle assessment of pavements”, Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Concrete Roads, Prague, Czech Republic, September 23-26, 2014.
  • Xu X., Noshadravan A., J. Gregory, R. Kirchain, “Scenario analysis of comparative pavement life cycle assessment using a probabilistic approach,” Proceedings of the International Symposium on Pavement LCA, Davis, CA, October 14-16, 2014.
  • J. Mack, X. Xu, J. Gregory, R. Kirchain, “Developing robust rehabilitation scenario profiles for life cycle assessment using decision tree analysis,” Proceedings of the International Symposium on Pavement LCA, Davis, CA, October 14-16, 2014.
  • Santero N., Loijos A., Ochsendorf J., "Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Opportunities for Concrete Pavements," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Volume 17, Issue 6, Pages 859–868, 2013
  • Loijos A., Santero N., Ochsendorf J. "Life cycle climate impacts of the US concrete pavement network." Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Volume 72, March 2013, Pages 76-83, 2013.
  • Noshadravan A., Wildnauer M., Gregory J., Kirchain R., "Comparative Pavement Life Cycle Assessment with Parameter Uncertainty," Transportation Research Part D, 25, Pages 135-138, 2013
  • Akbarian M., Moeini-Ardakani S.S., Ulm F.-J., Nazzal M., "Mechanistic Approach to Pavement-Vehicle Interaction and Its Impact on Life-Cycle Assessment," Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2306, Pages 171-179, 2012
  • Mack J., Ulm F.-J., Gregory J., Kirchain R., Akbarian M., Swei O., Wildnauer M., "Designing Sustainable Concrete Pavements using the Pavement-ME Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design and Life Cycle Analysis," International Conference on Long-Life Concrete Pavement, 2012
  • Loijos A., Akbarian M., Sahni S., Ochsendorf J., "Sensitivity Analysis of the Life Cycle Environmental Performance of Asphalt and Concrete Pavements," Concrete Sustainability Conference, 2010

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub pavements LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates risk.

News
Topic Summaries
  • Life Cycle Thinking: Pavements (March 2018)
  • Measuring the Impact of Competition on Paving Material Prices (November 2017)
  • Pavement Life Cycle Cost Assessment: Price Projection Modeling (April 2016)
Research Briefs
  • The influence of analysis period on pavement network performance (November 2017)
  • Estimating The Impact Of Competition (February 2016)
  • Developing a Network-Level Pavement Management Model (November 2015)
  • Material-Specific Price Projections: Implementation (September 2014)
  • LCCA of Pavements: Scenario Analysis (February 2014)
  • Initial Cost Uncertainty in LCCA (May 2013)
Publications
  • Guo, F., AzariJafari, H., Gregory, J., Kirchain, R. "Environmental and economic evaluations of treatment strategies for pavement network performance-based planning", Transportation Research D: Transport and Environment. Volume 99, October 2021, 103016
  • O. Swei, M. Akabarian, J. Gregory, R. Kirchain, J. Mack, “A review of pavement economic studies at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub”, ASCE T&DI International Airfield and Highway Pavements Conference, Chicago, IL, July 21-24, 2019.
  • Omar, S., Gregory, J., & Kirchain, R. (2018). Does Pavement Degradation Follow a Random Walk with Drift? Evidence from Variance Ratio Tests for Pavement Roughness, Journal of Infrastructure Systems, Vol 24, no.4, 2018.
  • Mack, J., Swei, O., Akabarian, M., Gregory, J., and Kirchain, R. A Review of Pavement Economic Studies at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub. Presented at the 13th International Symposium on Concrete Pavements, Berlin, Germany, 2018.
  • Swei, O., Gregory, J., Kirchain, R., Construction cost estimation: A parametric approach for better estimates of expected cost and variation. Transportation Research Part B: Methodological. Volume 101, July 2017, Pages 295–305
  • M. Akbarian, O. Swei, and J. Gregory, Probabilistic Characterization of Life-Cycle Agency and User Costs: Case Study of Minnesota, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2639, 2017, pp. 93–101. 2017
  • Swei, O., Gregory, J., and Kirchain, R. Probabilistic Approach for Long-Run Price Projections: Case Study of Concrete and Asphalt. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. 2016.
  • Swei, O. Probabilistic Life-Cycle Cost Analysis of Pavements: Drivers of Variation and Implications of Context,Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2523. Pages 47–55. 2016.
  • Swei O., Gregory J., Kirchain R., Pavement Management Systems: Opportunities to Improve the Current Frameworks Transportation Research Board 95th Annual Meeting, No. 16-2940. 2016.

Urban physics takes inspiration from the molecular structures of complex materials. Researchers use map data to capture the internal structure of city environments, then simplify complicated city conditions to identify patterns: some cities are laid out on a precise grid where the arrangement of buildings resembles the ordering of atoms in a crystal, while others are arranged more chaotically like the disordered atoms in a liquid or glass. City texture reveals a lot about how the area will respond to high winds in a storm, or to a major environmental event like a hurricane or earthquake. Texture has also been shown to be the most important determinant of an area’s urban heat island effect.

News
  • Urban heat island effects depend on a city's layout (MIT News, Feb 21, 2018)
  • The shape of your city could determine how hot it gets at night (Popular Science, March 2018)
  • Hot Nights In The City? Blame Urban Planning (Forbes.com, March 2018)
  • Urban Physics (MIT News, April 2014)
  • What ‘urban physics’ could tell us about how cities work (Boston Globe, July 2014)
Topic Summaries
  • City Texture and Urban Resilience (March 2020)
  • Urban Heat Islands (June 2019)
Research Briefs
  • Incorporating Neighborhood Texture Into Hurricane Loss Estimation (March 2021)
  • Community-Informed Building-Scale Resilience Assessment (February 2020)
  • Prioritizing Resilient Retrofits (February 2018)
  • Planning More Resilient Cities (March 2017)
  • Geospatial data enables the accurate prediction of radiative heat transfer (Nov 2017)
  • Quantifying the Impact of Pavement Reflectivity on Radiative Forcing and Building Energy Demand in Neighborhoods (March 2017)
  • City Geometry and Urban Heat Island (November 2015)
  • Urban Physics: City Texture Matters (October 2014)
  • Streamlined Energy Modeling of Residential Buildings (June 2014)
Publications
  • Roxon, J., Ulm, F.-J., Pellenq, R.J.-M. "Urban heat island impact on state residential energy cost and CO2 emissions in the United States," Urban Climate,
    Volume 31, March 2020.
  • Keremides, Konstantinos; Qomi, Mohammad Javad Abdolhosseini; Pellenq, Roland J. M.; and Ulm, Franz-Josef. “Potential-of-Mean-Force Approach for Molecular Dynamics–Based Resilience Assessment of Structures,” Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Volume 144, Issue 8 (2018)
  • Sobstyl, J.M., Emig, T., Abdolhosseini Qomi, M.J., Ulm, F.-J., and Pellenq R. J.-M., "Role of City Texture in Urban Heat Islands at Night Time," Physical Review Letters, February 2018
  • Qomi, Mohammad Javad Abdolhosseini; Noshadravan, A.; Sobstyl, J.; Toole, J.; Ferreira, J.; Pellenq, RJM, Ulm, Franz-Josef; Gonzalez, M. “Data analytics for simplifying thermal efficiency planning in cities,” Journal of the Royal Society Interface, April 2016