Community-Oriented Design and Evaluation Process for Sustainable Infrastructure

EPA Grant Number: SU833206
Title: Community-Oriented Design and Evaluation Process for Sustainable Infrastructure
Investigators: Jones, Sharon A. , Brandes, David
Institution: Lafayette College
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2006 through August 14, 2007
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2006) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The mission of Lafayette College’s Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-LC) is to provide sustainable infrastructure solutions in the Yoro Region of Honduras using multidisciplinary student groups. Such an effort matches service-learning with the sustainable development of small-scale infrastructure projects in another country; however, accomplishing such a service-learning effort can be difficult for new college chapters. For an infrastructure project to be sustainable throughout its life-cycle, designers must understand all of the constraints including economic, environmental, social, as well as technical. At the same time, college design teams are limited in terms of travel to developing countries, understanding new cultures including language, and experience applying knowledge to real-world situations.

Based on our previous experience, EWB-LC used the P3 Phase One project to develop an organizational framework for such service-learning projects. We call it the Community-Oriented Design and Evaluation Process for Sustainable Infrastructure (hereafter referred to as the CODE-PSI). The six steps of CODE-PSI are: Step 1– Establish Project and Determine Overall Goals; Step 2– Site Assessment and Planning; Step 3– Sustainability Evaluation of Alternatives and Community Buy-in; Step 4– Implementation; Step 5– Checking and Corrective Action; and Step 6– Review. The phase one P3 project allowed us to test CODE-PSI in a real-world setting within the communities of La Fortuna and Tule.

Site-specific challenges in La Fortun-Tule include: steep, erodable terrain with limited vehicular access; a scattered settlement pattern within the community; a high quality stream and riparian habitat; water rights issues; and the need for communal-based governance and financing. Our solution includes access to water and sanitation, an improved watershed via sanitation and greywater disposal, increased potential for economic gain from agriculture particularly given the saved time from water hauling, and community building. As such, the implementation of this water/sanitation system can be expected to substantially improve the quality of life for community members in both the short- and long- term. The water and sanitation infrastructure system for La Fortuna-Tule is projected to cost $23,500 before contingencies, transportation, and education costs. The ongoing annual costs are expected to be $450, or 20 lempiras per month per family.

Although we developed the six steps for the CODE-PSI in Phase I, we were only able to test the first three of them in conjunction with the La Fortuna-Tule project. Our first objective for phase II is to complete the La Fortuna-Tule project using the rest of CODE-PSI. Our second objective is to finalize CODE-PSI using both the La Fortuna-Tule test results and sustainability evaluations of other rural infrastructure projects in region. Our third and final objective is to disseminate CODE-PSI to other college campuses interested in such service-learning opportunities.

Supplemental Keywords:

community-based, developing country, infrastructure, rural, sanitation, service-learning, water,, RFA, Geographic Area, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, International, life cycle analysis, sustainable development, sustainable water use, environmental conscious construction, community based, alternative infrastructure design, Design for Environment, pollution prevention

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • P3 Phase I:

    Development of Sustainable Water Systems in Yoro, Honduras  | Final Report