Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Brian Barkdoll

Committee Member 1

William Breffle

Committee Member 2

Zhen Liu


Multi-dimensional aspects play a vital role in the task of project-decision making. Environmental effects are to be considered in addition to other technical and non-technical aspects in order to avoid undue environmental damage. This current work introduces a new decision-making algorithm (Socio-Technical-Economic Project Selection or STEPS) that is demonstrated with the use of RCA (recycled concrete aggregate) as riprap for slope stabilization and erosion control which leaches chemical arsenic when in contact with water. Arsenic has long been recognized for its lethal properties. The main intention of introducing this new algorithm is to use sustainability concepts of social, technical, and economic aspects to choose among several project options. The algorithm is demonstrated on three RCA scenarios to compare and select a project option considering environmental, health, life-cycle costs and benefits. The benefits of choosing a scenario are then assessed by CBA (cost-benefit analysis) through VSL (value per statistical life) and dose-response analysis. The VSL estimated by USEPA for arsenic is adjusted for inflation to be approximately $8.8 million dollars ($2016). The estimated VSL is then used for assessing benefits in terms of avoided mortality losses. It was found that the STEPS algorithm results in a more balanced selection rather than deciding on any criteria individually.