Melissa M. Bilec

Melissa M. Bilec
University of Pittsburgh | Pitt · Civil and Environmental Engineering

About

149
Publications
71,799
Reads
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4,173
Citations
Citations since 2016
60 Research Items
3485 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (149)
Conference Paper
Plastics have become one of the most ubiquitous materials for countless applications across different sectors and their consumption is increasing around 8% per year globally. The life-cycle stages of plastics production, use, and end-of-life are associated with significant environmental and human health impacts from climate change to presence of to...
Article
Circular economies are often framed as addressing a trio of problems: environmental degradation, economic stagnation, and social ills, broadly defined. Our paper centers on this last claim – that circular economies promise social benefits. There is a dearth of literature focused on the social dimensions of circular economies (Geissdoerfer, Martin,...
Article
As one of the globe's leading sectors for resource use and carbon emissions, the built environment could play a vital role in the circular economy (CE). This study aimed to understand and map the complex systems inherent to CE interventions in the built environment. We conducted a systematic literature review and thematic analysis to identify CE ca...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Research has predicted that the global population shift from rural to urban areas in the 21st century will cause haphazard building and infrastructure development in cities (Reinhart et al., 2016; United Nations, 2014). According to the US Department of Energy, the building sector is responsible for nearly 40% of total US energy consumption (USDOE,...
Poster
Full-text available
As one of the globe’s leading sectors for resource use and carbon emissions, the built environment could play a vital role in the circular economy (CE). This study aimed at understanding and mapping the complex systems inherent to CE interventions in the built environment. We conducted a systematic literature review and thematic analysis to identif...
Article
Achieving citywide building energy reduction goals require extensive understanding of energy use at scale, which is challenging due to scarce and disparate data. Despite attention to urban building energy models (UBEM), unexplored aspects and missing details in this emerging field have remained, including further exploring non-homogenous commercial...
Article
Recruitment, retention, and preparation of students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are critical to meeting the global challenges of the 21st century. Gamification—game playing concepts used in another activity—has been postulated as an active teaching strategy that engages students, encourages a sense of community, and...
Article
The accelerating pace of resource consumption threatens long-term availability of critical materials: those resources that play an essential role in modern society but are vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. Established resource management strategies have struggled to reduce the risks of metal criticality, and the demand for these materials con...
Article
Full-text available
A circular economy involves maintaining manufactured products in circulation, distributing resource and environmental costs over time and with repeated use. In a linear supply chain, manufactured products are used once and discarded. In high-income nations, health care systems increasingly rely on linear supply chains composed of single-use disposa...
Article
There is evidence that when people are exposed to sociobehavorial and socioeconomic disadvantage they become more susceptible to the impacts of poor environmental quality and experience exacerbated health outcomes as a result. In addition, existing literature clearly establishes a relationship between the built environment (e.g., housing, transport...
Article
Full-text available
Given the urgency of climate change, development of fast and reliable methods is essential to understand urban building energy use in the sector that accounts for 40% of total energy use in USA. Although machine learning (ML) methods may offer promise and are less difficult to develop, discrepancy in methods, results, and recommendations have emerg...
Article
Full-text available
Currently, the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction community operates in an environmentally problematic linear economy by consuming non-renewable virgin materials, producing landfill waste, and increasing the overall environmental impact. A solution to mitigate these problems is the implementation of a circular economy, an economic model th...
Article
While several national and international organizations offer standards for pollution levels and techniques to measure ambient air, there are no consistent metrics or methods for assessing and monitoring indoor air quality (IAQ) for an entire community. In this paper, we develop a framework for monitoring and addressing indoor air pollution in the c...
Article
Improvements in building performance have focused on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, while, more recently, impacts associated with material production have also gained interest across the industry. However, emerging issues surrounding sustainability and resilience of buildings warrant a more holistic understanding of building design....
Article
Renovation of existing buildings has been identified as a major strategy for reducing the environmental impacts associated with building construction. From the perspective of embodied impacts, repurposing existing structures can reduce the amount of new materials that have to be extracted, manufactured, and installed. While the literature on energy...
Article
While the literature documents known barriers to research participation in underserved communities, there are still very few evidence-based strategies that have successfully addressed gaps regarding recruitment and retention. To this end, we developed a replicable model designed to establish community-academic partnerships and advance environmental...
Article
Full-text available
Although life cycle assessment (LCA) is a valuable tool to evaluate the built environment’s impacts, many recent studies do not allocate equal attention to each life cycle stage [1,2]. As use phase impacts decrease in high-performance buildings, the significance of other life cycle stages increases. A process-based material LCA was performed on a l...
Article
Full-text available
The United Nations has predicted a fast pace of worldwide migration into urban areas by the year 2030 that may result in arbitrary growth of cities, leading to adverse environmental impacts and unplanned energy use. As building sector consumes more energy compared to other sectors, understanding urban building energy use is critical to aid in energ...
Article
Homeowners increasingly have the potential to drive deeper demand-side energy reductions, but they experience multifaceted barriers, from the financial to behavioral, which must be addressed holistically. Research has shown that targeting an individual barrier, such as rebates, is insufficient to overcome energy efficiency barriers for all homeowne...
Article
Interest in sustainability and resilience of buildings has led to a growing body of literature on merging environmental impact assessment methods with seismic loss estimation methods. Researchers have taken different approaches to connecting the two fields with the common goal of estimating the social, environmental, and economic impacts of damage...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Building energy modelling has become an integral part of building design due to energy consumption concerns in sustainable buildings. As such, energy modelling methods have evolved to the point of including higher-order physics, complex interconnected components and subsystems. Despite advances in computer capacity, the cost of generating and runni...
Article
It has become increasingly important for environmental managers to evaluate the human health (HH) impact of chemicals in their supply chain. Current Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods are limited because they often only address the HH impact at large geographical scales. This paper aims to develop a method that derives a regionalized life cycle in...
Article
Engineering courses that incorporate sustainability provide students with tools to solve the pressing problems of our future and a meaningful way to connect with their education through introduction of the global, societal, and environmental issues in engineering. Despite this, disconnects exist between engineering programs across the country in th...
Article
Small commercial buildings represent 94% of U.S. commercial buildings by number and consume approximately 9% of national total primary energy. However, advancements in building efficiency technologies have focused on large commercial building systems, while these buildings also have the financial support and personnel resources to invest in impleme...
Article
Small commercial buildings (<50,000 ft² in floor area) consume 44% of all U.S. commercial primary electricity, with plug loads accounting for 31% of that portion and growing. In response, a bottom-up building energy assessment resource (BEAR) was previously developed as a practical approach to disaggregating building energy use, including plug load...
Article
Objectives: To determine the carbon footprint of various sustainability interventions used for laparoscopic hysterectomy. Methods: We designed interventions for laparoscopic hysterectomy from approaches that sustainable health care organizations advocate. We used a hybrid environmental life cycle assessment framework to estimate greenhouse gas e...
Article
Quantifying the environmental impacts of buildings is a key step in realizing resilient and sustainable buildings. Buildings are vulnerable to natural hazards during their functional life, and the structural performance of the building affects its environmental impacts due to repair of hazard-related damage. This study presents a rational probabili...
Article
Understanding of indoor air quality (IAQ) during and after spray polyurethane foam (SPF) application is essential to protect the health of both workers and building occupants. Previous efforts such as field monitoring, micro-chamber/spray booth emission studies and fate/transport modeling have been conducted to understand the chemical exposure of S...
Article
This paper explores the cognitive and affective outcomes of the Sustainable Metrics (SusMet) Module for introducing engineering students to concepts of design for end-of-life and design for disassembly (explicit) and sustainable metrics (implicit) through active and experiential learning in the disassembly of green office chairs. The purpose of thi...
Article
Background: The US health care sector has substantial financial and environmental footprints. As literature continues to study the differences between wide-awake hand surgery (WAHS) and the more traditional hand surgery with sedation & local anesthesia, we sought to explore the opportunities to enhance the sustainability of WAHS through analysis o...
Article
Although the use of games to help students learn is explicit in the literature, little research has been conducted on student-developed games to assess student learning. The objective of this research is to establish the use of a Game Design Module as a way to assess students' mastery of course content where students modify existing board games to...
Article
This paper presents an attributional life cycle assessment of biopolymers and traditional plastics using real world disposal methods based on collected data and existing inventories. The focus of this LCA is to investigate actual disposal methods for the end of life phase of biopolymers and traditional fossil-based plastics relative to their corres...
Article
Although hybrid solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) microturbine systems generate power more efficiently than stand-alone SOFC systems, hybrid systems remain in the demonstration phase. This study compares a hybrid system's exergetic and economic performance with that of a stand-alone system. Both systems meet a university building's kW-scale power demand...
Article
Full-text available
Background While petroleum-based plastics are extensively used in health care, recent developments in biopolymer manufacturing have created new opportunities for increased integration of biopolymers into medical products, devices and services. This study compared the environmental impacts of single-use disposable devices with increased biopolymer c...
Article
As continued globalization of the world’s economic, environmental, and societal interactions strains the planet to meet anthropogenic demands, universities are striving to integrate sustainability education into engineering curricula intended to prepare students for global challenges facing today’s engineers. Concurrently, the Accreditation Board f...
Article
We present a network model of interstate food trade and report comprehensive estimates of embodied irrigation energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in virtual water trade for the United States (U.S.). We consider trade of 29 food commodities including 14 grains and livestock products between 51 states. A total of 643 million tons of food with a...
Article
Full-text available
While many institutions express interest in integrating sustainability into their civil engineering curriculum, the engineering community lacks consensus on established methods for infus-ing sustainability into curriculum and verified approaches to assess engineers' sustainability knowledge. This paper presents the development of a sustainability r...
Article
Full-text available
The residential sector is responsible for 22% of U.S. primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions, annually, stressing the importance of building energy efficiency. Energy audits and assessments are commonly incorporated into energy conservation strategies. However, heterogeneity of homeowner behaviors and motivators has accompanied ambiguous conc...
Article
Aging water infrastructure and increased water scarcity have resulted in higher interest in water reuse and decentralization. Rating systems for high-performance buildings implicitly promote the use of building-scale, decentralized water supply and treatment technologies. It is important to recognize the potential benefits and tradeoffs of decentra...
Conference Paper
The historic reliance on fossil fuels as a primary energy source has made combating climate change one of the leading environmental challenges facing society today. Buildings account for 72%, 39%, 38%, and 14% of electricity consumption, energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, and water consumption, respectively [1-2]. Twelve cities have joined the A...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing interest in integrating life cycle assessment (LCA) into building design decision making due to LCA's comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental evaluation. Many green building rating systems (GBRSs) use LCA to various degrees. In this paper, a comparative study was performed to evaluate the LCA software tools available...
Article
Full-text available
This research evaluates the addition of alkaline amendments to enhance the degradation of polylactic acid polymers (PLA) in compost conditions. The use of compostable biopolymers is increasing in part because they are advertised as compostable. However, PLA degrades slowly compared to the organic wastes in compost and even when processed in commerc...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence-based design (EBD) studies have grown rapidly over the last decade, attempting to link traditional building design to building occupants, with a particular emphasis on healthcare settings. Additionally, there has been an increase in green building design (GBD) for most new construction; however, the effects of GBD on the use phase and occu...
Article
Full-text available
Modern society is increasingly dependent on the stability of a complex system of interdependent infrastructure sectors. It is imperative to build resilience of large-scale infrastructures like metro systems for addressing the threat of natural disasters and man-made attacks in urban areas. Analysis is needed to ensure that these systems are capable...
Article
Embedded-class processors found in commodity palmtop computers continue to become increasingly capable. Moreover, wireless connectivity in these systems provides new opportunities in designing flexible and smarter wireless sensor networks (WSNs). In this paper, we present Lynx, a self-organizing wireless sensor network framework. Leveraging palmtop...
Article
While hospitals, sustainable healthcare organizations, and recent peer-reviewed publications have assessed the sustainability of medical products and services, the healthcare industry lacks a framework to effectively inform environmental decision making and quantitatively assess the success of sustainability initiatives for medical products and ser...
Article
Full-text available
Adopting a green building rating system (GBRSs) that strongly considers use of renewable energy can have important environmental consequences, particularly in developing countries. In this paper, we studied on-site renewable energy and GBRSs at the system level to explore potential benefits and challenges. While we have focused on GBRSs, the findin...
Article
Full-text available
The development of green building rating systems (GBRS) and sustainability metrics for buildings, including building products, is reviewed from a North American perspective. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system and the Living Building Challenge (LBC) are highlighted as primary examples of different levels of GBRS. Life cy...
Article
A hybrid modeling framework was constructed to investigate the uncertainty in modeling the energy consumption of an existing campus building with minimal instrumentation. The hybrid framework consisted of a dynamic model of the building's conditioned spaces, coupled with an empirical model of the building's HVAC system. The empirical model was cali...
Conference Paper
Data compression is an enabling technique to many applications, such as data center storage, multimedia streaming, and lightweight computing platforms, amongst others. These special-purpose compression approaches typically achieve incomparable compression ratios as core features of the application and dataset are leveraged to reduce duplication of...
Article
While the charge double layer effect has traditionally been characterized as a millisecond phenomenon, longer timescales may be possible under certain operating conditions. This study simulates the dynamic response of a previously developed solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack model that incorporates the charge double layer via an equivalent circuit....
Article
While the embedded class processors found in commodity palmtop computers continue to become increasingly capable, various wireless connectivity functions on them provide new opportunities in designing more flexible yet smarter wireless sensor networks (WSNs), and utilizing the computation power in a way we could never imagine before. Designing Lynx...
Article
Due to the tight coupling of physical processes inside solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), effi- cient control of these devices depends largely on the proper pairing of controlled and manipulated variables. The present study investigates the uncontrolled, dynamic behavior of an SOFC stack that is intended for use in a hybrid SOFC-gas turbine (GT) syste...
Article
The healthcare industry has begun to examine the role, impacts, and implications of healthcare facilities on people's health inside and outside their walls. This article reports a snapshot of findings from a multi-year research project of a new green Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. It identifies key data analysis areas and a method that can be u...
Article
Purpose: Life cycle assessment (LCA) can reveal valuable information pertaining to materials, water, and energy that will be consumed throughout a building’s entire predicted life span; however, it is often underutilized in practice. Individuals in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) community are in positions to influence the use...
Article
Full-text available
This research investigates the relationship between energy use, geographic location, life cycle environmental impacts, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The researchers studied worldwide variations in building energy use and associated life cycle impacts in relation to the LEED rating systems. A Building Information Modeling...
Article
Full-text available
This study evaluated seven different waste management strategies for venue-based events and characterized the impacts of event waste management via waste audits and the Waste Reduction Model (WARM). The seven waste management scenarios included traditional waste handling methods (e.g. recycle and landfill) and management of the waste stream via com...
Article
In order to teach to the engineering challenges of our global society we have adopted a modular approach to introduce sustainable engineering concepts to traditional civil engineering curricula. This paper highlights lessons learned from the creation, packaging, and distribution of a module that teaches Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure, one...
Article
Existing buildings represent a significant portion of the real estate portfolio in the United States contributing to increased retrofits, renovations, and associated environmental impacts. A roof retrofit case study is presented to understand the leading factors in the building owner’s decision in the context of results from environmental impacts t...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing interest in integrating Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) into building design decision-making, due to LCA’s comprehensive, systemic approach to environmental evaluation. Many green building rating systems use LCA to various degrees. In this paper, we have performed a comparative study to evaluate the tools available to designers at di...
Article
Full-text available
The healthcare sector is a driver of economic growth in the US, with spending on healthcare in 2012 reaching $2.8 trillion or 17% of the US gross domestic product, but it is also a significant source of emissions that adversely impact environmental and public health. The current state of the healthcare industry offers significant opportunity for en...
Article
The IEQ + DLCA framework, which integrates indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and dynamic life cycle assessment (DLCA) at the whole-building level, was revised and expanded to consider non-chemical health impacts and productivity/performance impacts. The complete framework was evaluated for a case study of a LEED gold rated university building, sup...
Conference Paper
The load-following performance of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack is investigated for meeting the power demand of a university building. A numerical model is developed based on charge, species mass, energy, and momentum balances, and an equivalent circuit is used to combine the fuel cell's irreversibilities. The fuel cell stack is sized to mee...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The aim of this research was to explore potential benefits and challenges of adopting green building rating system on a global level. A building information modeling (BIM) of an illustrative building was developed and situated in different international locations with the goal of representing varying climate types, economic conditions and energy so...
Conference Paper
The construction sector is a major contributor to negative environmental impacts in the United States and furthermore consumes an abundant quantity of natural resources---. In this research, an innovative model was developed with the goal of improving the life cycle environmental impacts of buildings by identifying potential waste sources prior to...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The factors that influence the sustainability of bio-based polymers are not simply related to renewability of feedstocks. Biopolymers can be produced with the added features of compostability and biodegradability, but it is not clear what benefits these methods of disposal may have over traditional waste management. Different end of life scenarios...
Article
Water and energy are interconnected resources that face regional supply limitations and contribute to environmental issues such as climate change. Pennsylvania and Arizona are creating policies to steer large transitions in their energy and water sources, respectively. This paper provides case studies using the newly developed Regional Energy & Wat...
Article
Water and energy are regionally dependent resources that generate significant environmental impacts. There is a growing body of environmental life-cycle impact data related to energy production and water use, and more cities and states are monitoring local conditions or developing future scenarios to assist in planning. This work presents a model t...