What We Do

What We Do

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“We are committed to fostering equitable climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.”

We use industrial ecology, equity, and transdisciplinary approaches (scroll down for details) to research and develop climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Our main research areas (scroll down for details) are food-energy-water, urbanization & buildings, and circularity. We tend to research and develop at the systems level, where the aggregation of micro-interactions emerge trends and patterns that affect our socioecological systems. 

Approaches

Industrial ecology approaches include life cycle assessment (LCA), material flow analysis, and scenario analysis among others. Our lab tends to use a mix of computational modeling (e.g., LCA software, topography visualization software, excel, and machine learning) and survey administration to develop quantitative models that can forecast future behavior. These forecasts help to identify life-cycle vulnerabilities and improve decision making outcomes, yielding the types of savings that can save environmental, social, monetary capital.

 

Social equity refers to being fair and unbiased as a function of an organization or system. It is important to note that acts of justice differ from equity, in that justice primarily involves removing barriers that undermine the implementation of equity.  We call the achievement of social equity, systemic equity. Systemic equity occurs when the resource, policy, and cultural needs of the systematically marginalized are properly addressed all at the same time. Our lab develops novel approaches and datasets to help achieve systemic equity.

 

We believe that transdisciplinary collaborations will be key in addressing the complex and ‘wicked’ challenges of modern times. To that end, we tend to co-develop and administer research with those in and outside of the civil and environmental engineering field (e.g., practitioners, public policy, mechanical and materials engineering, media and arts, social psychology, public health, and economists).

Research Areas

Food-Energy-Water: The food life cycle is a significant contributor to environmental degradation. It encompasses many complex systems, spanning infrastructure, cultural/ethnic, ecological, and political systems. Our lab designs models that incorporate these systems using historical data to forecast future behavior. Moreover, we provide novel insight sociodemographic differences, when data availability allows. The latter allows for more accurate and refined forecasting capabilities.

 

Urbanization & Buildings: To accompany a growing world population through the year 2050, it is anticipated the urbanized population will grow at an even faster rate. This growing urbanized population combined with diversifying subgroups converge, causing what we call social densification. Our lab develops models and decision making tools that help urban engineers and planners address the emergence of social densification. This manifests in tools that improve outcomes in infrastructure and building material use, construction practices, city planning, and policy development.

 

Circularity: This primarily involves circular economy and materials approaches. Circular economy (CE) aims to keep natural and technical resources cycling for longer. Circular materials can be seen as a component of the CE, however, this thrust focuses more on maintaining a material’s characteristic integrity as it undergoes initial, secondary, and/or subsequent uses. Another way of thinking of circularity is by imagining the cradle-to-grave LCA path of a material or technology, whereby it is integrated – or cycled – into another cradle-to-grave LCA path before it reaches its final waste status. Our lab integrates circularity into our approaches to help meet our broad goal of developing equitable climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.