Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Manjriker Gunaratne, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Delcie Durham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abla Zayed, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Jermier, Ph.D.


built environment, energy efficiency, sustainability


he Department of Energy names executing and integrating high-performance sustainable design and green building best practices a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan goal under the Executive Order 13514 (U.S DOE, 2009). As sustainability becomes a primary

goal for engineers, a decision making framework is needed to guide their choice of materials and processes; and then to carry out the evaluation of their chosen design. Sustainable design process, and the products developed through its application, work concurrently with functionality and sustainability evaluation methodologies to cultivate a continuous loop of design, implementation, assessment and improvement. In this context, an alternative insulation prototype exploring the use of evacuated packets of pyrogenic silica substituting for conventional insulation for refrigeration applications was developed and assessed. Assessment criteria included experimental comparison of heat transfer characteristics and the energy efficiency of the new insulation as well as its life cycle as it related to environmental sustainability. Results indicate that by utilizing alternative insulation design, heat flux decreased by an average of 36%, and energy efficiency improved by 5.1% over a 24 hour period. The new insulation design also resulted in improved environmental sustainability, resulting in a savings of 0.257 metric tons of CO2e over 20 years for a single unit. Results provide an alternative insulation design for use in commercial insulation applications, and a framework by which to assess the efficiency and environmental performance of similar products.