Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Ali Shafquat Akanda

Abstract

Rhode Island is both the smallest and 2nd most densely populated state, which already characterizes its unique situation within the United States of America. About 90.7% of the inhabitants live in urbanized areas, creating a more beneficial situation for the state's cities and towns equates to establishing improved conditions for a majority of its citizens.

This thesis constitutes a comprehensive approach on assessing sustainability in Rhode Island and its communities via implementation of a municipal ranking with 75 social, environmental and economic indicators. The rating is based on the best and worst performances of various indicators, thus allowing for concise comparison within the local context of the state. In this analysis, while the communities around Providence tend to perform unfavorably, the southeastern coastal communities are above average performers. The ranking results also show a certain link to both income and population density of the municipalities. The proposed tool allows for comprehensive evaluations and identification of areas for improvement for all municipalities of the state.

The second research focus is to evaluate linkages between water and energy provision in the state with a distinct focus on the urban environment. Both water supply and power generation exhibit advantageous characteristics, but rely on adequate data gathering to enable more refined research approaches. In addition, interactions between these vital resources were assessed by evaluating pollution sources and urban heat island implications. The latter reveals a high share of people residing in areas with significantly increased temperatures, which results in considerable, potential benefits by mitigating the associated UHI. Accordingly, abatement thereof may increase resilience of the public water supply infrastructure.

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