EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

EME 807 Syllabus (Summer 2024)


Welcome to Technologies for Sustainability Systems - Summer 2024

It is essential that you read the entire syllabus to become familiar with course expectations and policies.


Mark Fedkin's PictureMark Fedkin - Associate Teaching Professor, John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

Office Hours: Online by appointment

Email: To contact your instructor for correspondence related to this course, please use the Inbox tool in Canvas.

"Welcome everyone! If you need to get touch with me, email is the best way. I will read and respond to email at least once per day during the workweek (Monday through Friday) and occasionally on weekends."

Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Overview

Description: EME 807 is a required course for the Sustainability Management and Policy option in the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (RESS) program. It overviews a wide range of contemporary technologies in the context of sustainability and examines metrics for their assessment. The course explores the main principles that guide modern science and technology towards sustainable solutions. It covers such topics as resource management technologies, waste and wastewater treatment, renewable energy technologies, high-performance buildings and transportation systems, demand-response technologies, green chemistry, and more. Learning in EME 807 heavily relies on real-life examples and taps into current practices of technology analysis. This course goes beyond understanding the background, fostering critical thinking, and challenging the students to draw connections between social, environmental, and economic aspects of sustainable technologies.

Course Goals and Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. articulate the technical and economic fundamentals of key existing and emerging sustainable technologies;
  2. demonstrate how the economic and technical performance of various technologies can be measured and compared;
  3. identify the technical, economic, and social obstacles to the implementation of sustainable technologies;
  4. choose social, environmental, and economic metrics to assess sustainable technologies for long-term promise and commercialization;
  5. develop a realistic scenario for sustainable technology implementation at a specific location or facility.


The nature and scope of this course will require learning a wide variety of topics from a variety of resources. You will have a very short time to familiarize yourself with a particular subject or area of technology and extract the information that is useful. I did my best to find and put together proper materials for each lesson; however, if you feel the need for more explanation, details, or examples, be proactive and expand your online research. You should not expect the information to be fed to you in the final form; you will have to build your own knowledge system and learn how to use it practically. That said, I will always be ready to communicate, help, and discuss your learning experiences.

On average, students report that they spend eight to twelve hours per week working on a 3-credit online course. You will have the flexibility to spread that workload according to your schedule and study habits. Time spent may depend on your prior experience with the web learning environment and reading pace. You will be expected to participate in online discussion forums at least twice a week.

Success in this class depends significantly on the effort you put into your course project. It is important to work on it throughout the course and keep track of milestones and deadlines. The project will give you the flexibility to work on a topic of your career interest and will allow bringing your existing expertise to the course study.

Specific learning objectives are detailed within each lesson. The course schedule is published under the Calendar tab in Canvas (the course management system used for this course).

Required Course Materials

Required and recommended textbooks

There is no specific textbook for this course. Because of the topic diversity, we will use multiple resources, most of which will be available online through Penn State Library system. Access to the Internet is a key requirement for this course.

Online lesson content

Most materials needed for this course are presented online through Canvas. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password. If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

Reserve materials

This course uses Penn State's Library Electronic Reserves (E-Reserves). More information about how to access this content is available in the course orientation in Canvas. You need to be a registered student in this course to access the reserved library materials.

Weekly Assignments and Grading

This course will rely on a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

  • Discussion forums - Students will be evaluated on their comprehension of lesson materials, critical thinking, and active engagement in forum communications.
  • Written assignments - Students will investigate lesson topics and provide short reports on chosen technologies or systems. Students will be assessed based upon the depth of research, the use of appropriate information sources, objectivity, and the clear communication of results.
  • Individual course project - The individual final research project will build upon a student-proposed case study. Students will be evaluated according to the level of application of concepts presented in the course, the response to feedback, and the overall quality of deliverables.

Citation and Reference Style

All work must be properly cited. In this course, the recommended citation style is APA (American Psychological Association). For help with citations see The Purdue OWL: Research and Citations.


It is important that your work is submitted in the proper format to the designated Canvas DropBox or Discussion Forum and by the designated due date. Only the Canvas submission procedure will make sure that your work is adequately accepted and graded by the Instructor.

Due dates for all assignments are posted on the course calendar in Canvas.

Grade Breakdown

Assignment Total Weight
Forum Discussions 20%
Written Assignments 30%

Individual Course Project

  • Preliminary submissions
  • Final implementation proposal



Lessons also contain a certain number of multiple-choice questions and mini-problems embedded within the text. Those assignments are only for self-check and do not affect your grade.

Canvas gradebook will be used for graded assessments in this course. You can access your grades in the gradebook by clicking the Grades tab in Canvas. The final course letter grades will be determined as listed below. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned.

Grading Scale
Grade Percent
A 93 – 100%
A- 90 – 92.9%
B+ 87 – 89.9%
B 83 – 86.9%
B- 80 – 82.9%
C+ 77 – 79.9%
C 70 – 76.9%
D 60 – 69.9%
F < 60.0%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Late policy

The Certificate Program in RESS and the iMPS RESS degree program were designed specifically for adult professionals who need to study part-time while they work full-time. If you encounter a scheduling conflict, please notify the instructor as soon as possible to request deadline extension. Reasonable requests are granted without penalty. However, I encourage you to make any effort to submit assignments on time in order to keep your work on pace and avoid assignment pileup. Typically, you will be given one week for completing assignments on a lesson.

EME 807 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below, you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course consists of twelve lessons, with the orientation preceding the official start of the course. Most lessons are one week long, but some extra time will be given for completing the course project milestones. Please see the course Calendar in Canvas for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.

Weekly schedule: each lesson will begin on Thursday, and unless otherwise stated, all written assignments will be due in a week, at 11:55 pm (your local time) the next Wednesday. The Thursday-to-Wednesday week will allow me to better address your questions closer to the deadline. Discussion posts for the same lesson will be due Sunday night during each lesson week to allow enough time for others to respond before the next lesson starts.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Typical Weekly Schedule:

Lesson begins

Forum post due

Assignment due

Forum responses due

Next lesson begins

A list of topics and activities included in the course is presented below. Specific required and optional reading materials are listed within each lesson.

Dates: Monday through Wednesday before the start of Lesson 1
Topics: Course structure, environment, and policies / Introductions
Readings: Course syllabus, orientation materials
  1. Become familiar with the course structure and policies.
  2. Personalize your Canvas page.
  3. Self-introduction discussion forum.
  4. Complete the Course Survey.
Lesson 1: Principles of Sustainable Systems
Dates: Week 1
Topics: Principles of Sustainable Systems
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Growth / No-Growth Dilemma
  2. Activity: Systems thinking exercise
Lesson 2: Technology Development and Lifecycle Assessment
Dates: Week 2
Topics: Technology Development and Lifecycle Assessment
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Define Technology.
  2. Activity: LCA diagrams
  3. Course project: Topic selection
Lesson 3: Metrics for Technology Evaluation
Dates: Week 3
Topics: Metrics for Technology Evaluation
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Activity 1: Sustainability Index
  2. Activity 2: Economic metrics
Lesson 4: Green Chemistry and Materials
Dates: Week 4
Topics: Green Chemistry and Materials
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Chemical Exposure and Risk
  2. Activity: Green Chemistry Case study
  3. Course project: Outline Presentations
Lesson 5: Resource Management Technologies
Dates: Week 5
Topics: Resource Management Technologies
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Clean-up Innovations
  2. Activity: Circular Economy Case Study
Lesson 6: Sustainable Water and Wastewater Systems
Dates: Week 6
Topics: Sustainable Water and Wastewater Systems
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Wastewater Audit
  2. Activity: Wastewater treatment technologies
  3. Course project: Peer Reviews
Lesson 7: High-Performance Building Systems
Dates: Week 7
Topics: High-Performance Building Systems
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Net-zero-energy buildings
  2. Activity: LEED Metrics
Lesson 8: Applied Renewable Energy Technologies
Dates: Week 8
Topics: Applied Renewable Energy Technologies
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Promo video
  2. Activity: Comparative Assessment
Lesson 9: Energy Management and Power Systems
Dates: Week 9
Topics: Energy Management and Power Systems
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Renewables for Baseload Power
  2. Quiz - Energy storage technologies
  3. Course project: Technical Review
Lesson 10: Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Dates: Week 10
Topics: Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Urban Transportation Models
  2. Activity: Comparative analysis of vehicle technologies
Lesson 11: Behavioral Aspects and Feedback Systems
Dates: Week 11
Topics: Behavioral Aspects and Feedback Systems
Readings: Read lesson materials.
  1. Discussion forum: Bias Reflection
  2. Activity: Decision making plan
Lesson 12: Individual Course Project
Dates: Week 12
Topics: Individual Course Project
Readings: Independent research
  1. Final implementation Proposal

Course Policies


If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" on the World Campus Student Policies website.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the IT Service Desk.

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.


This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. 

According to Penn State policy  G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is “an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically.” Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, you must complete all course work entirely on your own, using only sources that have been permitted by your instructor, and you may not assist other students with papers, quizzes, exams, or other assessments. If your instructor allows you to use ideas, images, or word phrases created by another person (e.g., from Course Hero or Chegg) or by generative technology, such as ChatGPT, you must identify their source. You may not submit false or fabricated information, use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses, or share instructional content. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work.

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete coursework and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic outcomes, that can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes which may include ineligibility for the Dean's List, pass/fail elections, and grade forgiveness. Students may also face consequences from their home/major program and/or The Schreyer Honors College.

Please also see Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Procedures, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State’s “Academic Integrity Training for Students.

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws. For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides the contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website.

To receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. See Student Disability Resources: Applying for Services. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know. 

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances, or university-approved activities.  If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In EMS, inclusivity is one of our core values. We prioritize fostering a diverse and equitable community where each member knows they belong here and is inspired to succeed. We encourage everyone in our EMS community to be actively engaged in fostering this ideal, and all members of this class should contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and interact with civility. Our commitment to inclusivity aligns with Penn State’s values and policies. 

To learn more, visit EMS Educational Equity.  Here, you will find information about the EMS ALLWE initiative, the Rainbow EMS Network, Anti-Racism, active ally-ship, bystander intervention, and more. The site also has resources for where to turn if you need assistance and links to University references.  Also, contact your EMS department’s Associate Head for DEI for more information about department initiatives. 

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes to the syllabus shall be given to you in written (paper or electronic) form.