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Role of Materials Science in the Resilience of the Built Environment



Stephanie S. Watson, Chiara C. Ferraris, Jason D. Averill


The resilience of U.S. communities, defined as the "ability to withstand and recover rapidly from disruptive events," is directly dependent upon the ability of the built environment to maintain and support the functions upon which modern society has come to rely. The built environment includes both buildings and infrastructure systems. Buildings are important to a community's resilience to the extent that they provide critical services (e.g., hospitals enable delivery of medical care, police stations help maintain civil order, and mercantile / office buildings enable local commerce). Infrastructure systems include the physical networks, systems, and structures that make up transportation, energy, communications, water, wastewater, and other systems that additionally support the functionality of community social institutions. As local decision makers consider the resilience of the built environment, choices often involve cost-benefit decisions among materials with differing initial and lifetime costs, as well as differing performance characteristics. This paper will describe the important role that materials science plays in enabling informed local decisions for resilience. The materials considered here include all materials used in the built environment, such as concrete, polymers, steel or other metals, and wood.
Journal of Structural Engineering-ASCE


materials science, resilience, infrastructure, service curves


Watson, S. , Ferraris, C. and Averill, J. (2017), Role of Materials Science in the Resilience of the Built Environment, Journal of Structural Engineering-ASCE, [online],, (Accessed June 17, 2024)


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Created December 4, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021