Amplifying innovation in sustainable infrastructure

Mikhail Chester, ASU School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment


Today’s infrastructures are stuck between legacy goals and wicked and complex future challenges. Resilience and sustainability goals in many ways embody solutions to these complex challenges. Whereas in the past infrastructure design has typically emphasized engineered built environment functionality, more and more efforts are made to more meaningfully integrate ecological and social capabilities into infrastructure solutions.

The award highlights the innovative and resilient infrastructure approaches undertaken by infrastructure professionals in the Phoenix area. In doing so, they encourage and reward those meeting resilience challenges through thoughtful and forward-thinking infrastructure projects while increasing the visibility of their projects. This year’s awards are restructured to recognize the growing complexity of resilient infrastructure solutions that embrace gray (engineered) and green (ecological) function.

Research questions

  • How are current infrastructure projects in Phoenix addressing resilience and sustainability challenges?

  • What sustainability challenges are being addressed through innovative infrastructure design?

  • What kinds of urban ecological infrastructure or hybrid gray-green infrastructure projects are being implemented in Phoenix, and how do these designs address resilience challenges differently from traditional built infrastructure projects?

Methods and findings

To learn more about the innovative infrastructure projects happening in Phoenix, we began by compiling an outreach list of Phoenix-area infrastructure and engineering professionals with the assistance of ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, CAP LTER, and the Sustainable Cities Network. Nominations were requested for their cutting-edge resilience and sustainability infrastructure projects.

Nomination packages are reviewed by Metis Center faculty, an interdisciplinary team of infrastructure and urban researchers at ASU. The review process identifies the projects that are 1) innovative; and 2) address environmental, social, or emerging technology challenges OR address the growing complex environments that infrastructure are expected to operate in. The projects that fit these criteria will be recognized with a plaque, and information about the projects and their impacts will be featured on the Metis Center’s Sustainability Awards website.


  • School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

  • Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research

  • Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network NSF project

  • SETS Resilience Convergence NSF Project

  • Sustainable Cities Network

  • The award solicitation was sent to approximately 900 infrastructure professionals in Arizona. Specific awardees will be announced in late 2022.


The award highlights cutting-edge resilience and sustainability practices in the Phoenix area infrastructure community that strive to integrate ecosystem and community well-being into infrastructure design. Arizona is a leader in resilience but often there is limited opportunity to describe this knowledge and transfer learning to other communities. The award is designed to foster a community of infrastructure leaders who will serve as benchmarks for future resilience efforts.


The Sustainable Infrastructure Awards are held annually. The 2022 awards represent the fourth award cycle and now recognize the significance of traditional gray and urban ecological resilient infrastructure design. Each year, nomination packages are requested with details on innovative resilient and sustainable infrastructure designs and implementations. We have had twelve projects achieve awardee status across the previous three award cycles. Summaries of the awarded projects are available at

Mikhail Chester

A Portrait of Mikhail chester

Associate Professor
ASU School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

Academic Fellow, 2022

Dr. Chester is the Director of the Metis Center for Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University where he runs a research program focused on preparing infrastructure and their institutions for the challenges of the coming century. He is a professor in Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering. His work spans climate adaptation, disruptive technologies, innovative financing, cybersecurity, and modernization of infrastructure management. He is broadly interested in how we need to change infrastructure governance, design, and education for the Anthropocene, an era marked by acceleration and uncertainty. He has recently published two books: The Rightful Place of Science: Infrastructure in the Anthropocene, and Urban Infrastructure: Reflections for 2100, both available on Amazon.