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Jorge Zuñiga Blanco on five innovations in civil engineering aimed at improving sustainability

Jorge Zuñiga Blanco / Blog /

For more than two centuries, the major production industries across the globe have fueled incredible economic wealth. However, this increase in wealth has also led to challenges, such as overcrowding and pollution. Civil engineers, such as Jorge Zuñiga Blanco, are now more important than ever to develop solutions to many critical issues, and Zuñiga explains five innovations that are being designed to help improve sustainability.

Pollution due to plastics and local waste led to India beginning to test plastic roads less than 20 years ago. Waste plastic is being converted into construction material and has been shown to be highly resilient. Now, any city in the country that has over 500,000 inhabitants must construct their roads with plastic at the core and there are other countries around the world, including the U.S. and the UK, that are considering similar options. They are also looking at waste plastic, which is combined with asphalt to create a permeable but strong traveling surface.

Despite the fact that the idea of utilizing waste plastic in streets is still in its beginning periods, with not many plastic streets right now existing in the Western world, structural building analysts in nations like the United Kingdom and the United States are attempting to plan new innovations to help the sheltered usage of waste plastic in street development. One such improvement includes changing over waste plastics into little balls that, when joined with black-top or other regular street segments, make a solid, porous surface that highlights empty spaces that permit stormwater to leak through the street and all the more successfully revive groundwater.

The Environmental Protection Agency characterizes a green rooftop as a “vegetative layer developed on a housetop.” Today, green rooftop frameworks have turned out to be prominent everywhere throughout the world for their excellence, as well as the advantages they give toward ecological sustainability. Explains Zuñiga, “Germany is as of now driving the world in green rooftop advances, and they have executed green material frameworks on around 10% of German homes since the innovation developed in the mid-1970s. Structural specialists are in charge of guaranteeing that the green rooftop’s strong foundation—for example, a thorough watering framework—is built to reliably convey a suitable measure of assets, and the rooftop itself must be intended to adequately give working upgrades to natural manageability.” Zuñiga acknowledges that there are still challenges to be overcome, such as a reduction in water runoff, but the technology has advanced tremendously in recent years.

In an effort to try and combat overcrowding, civil engineers are now creating floating homes – homes that literally float on the water. They are designed on a foundation of concrete and Styrofoam and are virtually unsinkable. However, they can easily withstand water level changes and are seen as a solid solution to areas prone to flooding.

Harvesting rainwater is a strategy that has been used for centuries in order to combat climate changes. Recently, engineers and researchers out of Holland have discovered that effective large-scale rainwater harvesting facilities can lower stormwater runoff by as much as 50%. Explains Zuñiga, “This is achieved by installing rainwater catchment systems on the rooves of buildings. From there, the water is directed into holding tanks. The water can even be treated and reutilized, giving it additional benefits.”

Civil engineers are helping to redesign urban infrastructures and sustainability. Their efforts are helping to reverse some of the damage caused by overpopulation and unnecessary waste, which will lead to a cleaner tomorrow.