Chapter Twelve

Energy Considerations

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Case Study: The Proposed Power Plant for Surry County, Virginia
  • Background
  • Energy Trends and Predicting Demand
  • Sources of Energy
  • Environmental Impacts
  • Energy as an Infrastructure Consideration
  • Outro

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Identify and manipulate units associated with energy and power.
  2. Explain recent trends in U.S. energy consumption.
  3. Explain how historical energy and population data can be used to forecast future energy demand.
  4. Describe the relationship between energy use and the design and management of infrastructure components.
  5. Compare the environmental impacts of various types of energy sources.


A country's quality of life and economic growth potential are greatly dependent upon adequate energy that is both safe and secure. In the case of the United States, there are several causes for concern. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assigned a D+ grade to the energy sector. This poor grade was due to concerns about the condition, capacity, safety, and security of our energy infrastructure. Additionally, recent fluctuations in petroleum and natural gas costs have created considerable discussion and debate on energy issues at the national level.

The work of civil and environmental engineers is linked to energy issues in several ways. For example, civil and environmental engineers ...

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