Development of a decision support model for the social costs of pipelines renovation projects

Nunes Vasconcelos, Camila (2017) Development of a decision support model for the social costs of pipelines renovation projects.

Abstract:Construction projects are well known for the impacts and nuisances they may cause on the society and the surrounding environment. In the specific case of pipelines projects, there are safety issues involved, added to the magnitude of damage and disruption that can potentially affect the normal life of people. The negative impacts due to construction (pipelines) projects are also called social costs and are those for which the society will not be compensated, affecting the communities near the construction site, the environment and the surrounding infrastructure. Actually, the choice between pipelines projects is mainly dictated by technical and economic aspects and the inclusion of social costs is not always evident. However, in order to know the real cost of a project, it is necessary to consider not only the direct and indirect cost but also the social As such, there is an increasing need for companies and governmental agencies to assess their pipelines projects based on total project costs by including social costs. This approach results in project choices that minimize the impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood, infrastructure, and environment. However, in practice, it is challenging to incorporate social costs in the decision-making and to represent in monetary units. This research aims at developing a model that supports decision makers to take more informed decisions by quantifying and incorporating social costs in the decision making. The model considers not only direct and indirect costs, but also social costs and risks when choosing between open trench and trenchless pipelines projects. This research used literature review, interviews and surveys for collecting data and developing the model. The data collection results allowed the selection of the social costs pertinent to the model, the equations for quantification of social costs, a qualitative approach for the risks assessment and the information to be provided by the model users. The result of this research is an Excel model which uses valuation equations and a scoring system to calculate social costs and assess risks, respectively. The model is used to compare open trench and trenchless projects regarding social costs, based on inputs from the users. From a theoretical point of view, it provides a base for decision makers to recognize which social costs and risks might be present in their projects, where these social costs come from and which parameters influence these social costs and risks. The model was validated using “educated guess” projects provided by experts. The results indicate that social costs are not systematically included in the decision making. One of the reasons is that the information needed to evaluate social costs is not always available or it is spread among different parties. It is suggested that a change in the way information is organized and communicated should help with filling this gap. Besides, the development of a common database with project information could be created and be used for social costs estimation in future projects. It was also found that the incorporation of social costs would not always be used nor influences the decision making and in these cases a social costs model would not add much value. On the other hand, social costs can make a difference when the project owner wishes to reduce the nuisances to the society and have projects with the lowest cost to the society and the environment.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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