Monday, July 20, 2015

John Crittenden Awarded the 2015 NWRI Clarke Prize

Professor Crittenden Honored for Research Contributions to Water Treatment Technology and Water Resource Sustainability

The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) announced that BBISS Director, John C. Crittenden, will be the twenty-second recipient of the NWRI Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research. Consisting of a medallion and $50,000 award, the NWRI Clarke Prize is given each year to recognize research accomplishments that solve real-world water problems and to highlight the importance of the continued funding for water research. Crittenden was selected as the 2015 recipient for his outstanding contributions to treating chemical contaminants in water and his leadership in addressing water demand for transportation, energy production, and domestic use in a holistic, sustainable manner. “I consider the Clarke Prize to be one of the greatest honors that one who conducts water research can receive,” said Crittenden.

With a career spanning 37 years, Crittenden has been a pioneer in the research and development of several key water treatment technologies and processes that are in widespread use today.  Crittenden and his colleagues worked with NASA to alleviate the costs of sending fresh water to the International Space Station by helping to design a water recycling system tailored to treat the impaired waters that are unique to space flight. NASA installed the system on the ISS in 2012 where it is still in use.  Also among his achievements is the 2011 textbook, Water Treatment: Principles and Design, on which he served as senior author.  Crittenden's body of work in pollution prevention and green chemistry led the American Institute of Engineers to award him as one of the 100 Eminent Chemical Engineers in Modern Times.

Crittenden is also distinguished among his peers for his vision and dedication to ensuring the sustainability of urban water resources. In 2008, Crittenden was recruited to Georgia Tech to direct the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. BBISS was established to take a comprehensive, trans-disciplinary approach in creating technological, management, and policy strategies to ensure a sustainable future. Crittenden aims to understand water resources in context with other major urban infrastructure systems, such as energy and transportation systems. “His work in sustainability is particularly bold and innovative, and will change the way we will promote water security, enhance economic development, and alleviate concerns of wars over water,” said Joseph B. Hughes, Ph.D, P.E., DEE, of Drexel University. 

The Clarke Prize will be presented to Crittenden on Friday, October 30, 2015, at the Twenty-Second Annual NWRI Clarke Prize Conference, Lecture, and Award Ceremony, to be held in Huntington Beach, California. Established in 1993, the Clarke Prize is one of only a dozen water related prizes awarded worldwide and has been distinguished by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards as one of the most prestigious awards in the world.


The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) was founded in 1991 by a group of Southern California water agencies in partnership with the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation to promote the protection, maintenance, and restoration of water supplies and to protect the freshwater and marine environments through the development of cooperative research work. NWRI’s member agencies include Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Irvine Ranch Water District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Orange County Sanitation District, Orange County Water District, and West Basin Municipal Water District.

John C. Crittenden, Ph.D., P.E., N.A.E, C.A.E., is the Director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems at Georgia Institute of Technology, holds the Hightower Chair, is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Environmental Technologies, and a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems enhances Georgia Tech’s research, education, and service missions, and campus operations through leadership, communications, development, and decision making inspired and defined by the principles of sustainability. Programs and projects initiated or supported by the BBISS lie at the intersections of these themes.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

BBISS Appoints Twelve Fellows

The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems at Georgia tech has appointed 12 BBISS Fellows.  This diverse group of faculty and researchers come from all six of Georgia Tech’s Colleges as well as the Georgia Tech Research Institute.  The purpose of the Fellows program is to serve as a board of advisors to the BBISS; to foster the culture and community of sustainability researchers, educators, and students at Georgia Tech; and to communicate broadly the vision, mission, values, and objectives of the BBISS. Fellows will work with the BBISS for three years, with the potential for renewal. 

The BBISS Fellows are:
  •  Baabak Ashuri, School of Building Construction, College of Architecture 
  •  Atalay Atasu, Scheller College of Business
  • Kevin Caravati, Georgia Tech Research Institute
  • Kim Cobb, School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, College of Sciences
  • Bistra Dilkina, School of Computational Science & Engineering, College of Computing 
  • Ellen Dunham-Jones, College of Architecture
  • Tom Fuller, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Ashok Goel, School of Interactive Computing, College of Computing
  • Randy Guensler, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Daniel Matisoff, School of Public Policy, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
  • Juan Moreno-Cruz, School of Economics, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
  • Marc Weissburg, School of Biology, College of Sciences

Friday, May 1, 2015

$1 Million Joint US – China Study on Sustainable Steel Manufacturing

Image by Deutsche Fotothek, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de.

A multidisciplinary research team from Georgia Tech has just been awarded $500,000 over four years to study ways in which steel production in China can be made more sustainable.  The grant is being awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  It is matched with a research grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to a group of Chinese investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China’s Northeastern University.  The project, entitled “U.S.-China: Systems-Based Approaches for Sustainable Steel Manufacturing,” is led on the U.S. side by Georgia Tech Professors Bert Bras, John Crittenden, and Marc Weissburg.  The Chinese team is led by Dr. Hongbin Cao, Dr. Xin Xiao, and Dr. Jiuju Cai. This study has the potential to contribute significantly to improvements in the Chinese steel industry, where, given its size, improvements can have far ranging benefits - domestically and internationally.

The multidisciplinary US-China team will focus on developing innovative systems-based solutions for increasing the environmental sustainability of the Chinese steel industry.  China is by far the largest producer of crude steel, producing more than half of the global supply.  Such enormous production levels are driven by both domestic and foreign demand.  Steel production has significant environmental impacts, accounting for 6.7% of the total world CO2 emissions, and considerable use of, and toxic discharge to fresh water sources.  In comparison, due to efficiency measures undertaken in the past 3 decades, U.S. metal production is two thirds less energy intensive compared to that of Chinese industries.  The team will have cutting-edge access to the Chinese steel industry as well as eco-industrial parks, in which China is leading the world.  The team expects that many unique insights will be gained.

Focusing on the steel industry will provide immediate benefit to China’s Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) and industries associated with steel production.  This project can help develop methods and approaches useful in many applications in both the U.S. and China.  The team will capitalize on the unique opportunity for collaboration between two different countries with different cultures, as well as different steel manufacturing technologies.

The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems is Georgia Tech's umbrella organization to promote comprehensive and innovative systems-based approaches to address the challenges and opportunities inherent in achieving a sustainable and prosperous future.  The BBISS enhances Georgia Tech’s research, education, and service missions, and campus operations through leadership, communications, development, and decision making inspired and defined by the principles of sustainability. Programs and projects initiated or supported by the BBISS lie at the intersections of these themes.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People's Republic of China. It is headquartered in Beijing, with branch institutes all over mainland China.
Northeastern University (NEU) is a public university founded in 1923 in the city of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China.
From Georgia Tech:

Bert Bras – Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Director, Sustainable Design and Manufacturing Program, Brook Byers Professor.

John Crittenden - Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Director, Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, Hightower Chair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Sustainable Systems, member of the U.S. and Chinese National Academies of Engineering.

Marc Weissburg – Professor, School of Biology, Co-Director, Center for Biologically Inspired Design.

Hongbin Cao – Professor, Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xin Xiao – Professor, Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Jiuju Cai – Professor, State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Eco-Industry, Institute of Thermal and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NSF Awards Grant to BBISS Researchers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $2.5 million grant to an innovative multidisciplinary research project led by BBISS Director, Professor John Crittenden.  The three year project, under the Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems program (RIPS), is designed to develop the theory that infrastructure systems, with their many interdependencies and complex adaptations, have many similarities to ecological systems.  The insights that arise from this grant will be useful in the future development of tools and methods used in the design and evaluation of urban infrastructure systems and their resilience under stresses like climate change, urban growth patterns, and extreme weather events.  The investigators also expect that perspective will be gained by examining the relative advantages of ecological design versus engineering approaches in the design of complex systems such as urban infrastructure. 

One of the most unique aspects of this work is its multi-disciplinary nature.  The project team spans across ten different units, from five of the six colleges at Georgia Tech, plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).  The project team is:

  •  John Crittenden (PI) – Dir., Brook Byers Institute of Sustainable Systems, CEE
  • Baabak Ashuri (Co-PI) – Dir., Economics of the Sustainable Built Environment Lab, BC
  • Richard Fujimoto (Co-PI) - Computational Science and Engineering
  • Marc Weissburg (Co-PI) – Co-Dir., Center for Biologically Inspired Design, Biology
  • Jennifer Clark (Co-PI) – Dir., Center for Urban Innovation, Public Policy
  • Miroslav Begovic - Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Nancey Green Leigh – Assoc. Dean for Research, College of Arch., City and Regional Planning
  • Subhrajit Guhathakurta – Dir., Center for Geographic Information Systems, CRP
  • Tom McDermott - Deputy Director and Director of Research, GTRI
  • Valerie Thomas - Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Bert Bras – Dir., Sustainable Design and Manufacturing Program, Mechanical Engineering

The main hypothesis of this project is that infrastructure systems that are interconnected and decentralized are more resilient than those that are isolated and centralized.  A secondary hypothesis is that decentralized infrastructure systems are also more adaptable and scalable.  However, the means to assess these hypotheses are not readily at hand.  Currently, infrastructure systems are designed, built, and operated as independent entities with little consideration for how they interact with other infrastructure systems, or even within their socio-economic context.  This project will develop that capability and then use it to understand the resilience of centralized versus decentralized infrastructure systems at the metropolitan, city, and community level. Atlanta, GA will serve as a test bed.

There are 4 main research thrusts of this project.

  1.   A functional model for water, energy, and transportation infrastructures will be built based in system dynamics.  This model will be used to assess how infrastructure systems respond and adapt to various stressors under different urban growth scenarios.  
  2.  A model to quantify the resilience of water, energy, and transportation infrastructures will be developed with an ecological engineering approach to resilience.  Proposed designs will be benchmarked with this model taking into account climate change stressors and a demographically representative cohort of stakeholders.
  3. An agent-based simulation tool of the socio-economic environment will be developed to understand decision-making and system performance under stressors.  This tool will capture the impacts to service amongst the stakeholders, feed decisions back to the systems model, and provide prescriptions for future development/rehabilitation.
  4. A model of resilience and sustainability will be developed for water, energy, and transportation infrastructures to assess the effects of climate change stressors like extreme heat events, droughts, and floods and how these infrastructure systems interact with each other under such stresses.

This research represents a new system-of-systems approach to engineering the resilience of critical urban infrastructures.  Developing models which place urban infrastructure systems in context with their physical and socio-economic environments will serve to bridge the gap between social decision making processes and the design of urban systems.  As the world increasingly urbanizes and contends with complex ecological constraints, unique approaches such as this project may contribute to the framing of a national research agenda for integrating urban resilience and sustainability into urban planning. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Student Sustainability Organizations - 2014

Students Organizing for Sustainability members in the GT Community Garden.
This is our annual feature highlighting Georgia Tech's student sustainability related organizations for the new academic year. Georgia Tech has a strong tradition of student led clubs and organizations. Sustainability related groups have proven to be no exception in this regard. The list below is a comprehensive picture of the broad range of sustainability related student organizations and volunteer opportunities available. Please help us keep this list current. Contact us with updates, or additions.

  • Association of Environmental Engineers and Scientists - AEES is a student-run organization, traditionally a graduate student group, we now involve many undergraduate students in our professional and social events. Our organization’s main goal is to improve the overall educational experience  of the students in our department. We aim to provide a professional and social network to environmental engineering students  at Georgia Tech. We provide professional development services to our students, act as a communication channel between students and faculty, provide assistance to students attending conferences, and work to maintain a high quality of student life. AEES also provides a link between students and their potential employers.
  • Alternative Service Break - ASB creates programs that provides high-quality service trips over school holidays to members of the Georgia Tech student body. ASB works in partnership with the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement to meet this goal. Since the time of ASB’s first program in 2011, ASB's footprint has expanded from a single service trip to now collectively offering thirteen different service opportunities to Georgia Tech students. ASB’s reach extends from Jacksonville, Florida, to Tom’s River, New Jersey; and we will offer our first international trip in the spring. Most importantly, ASB strives to produce programs that bring together students on our campus, engages our alumni network, and to serve the communities that our students engage with. We are proud to be building an outlet through which Georgia Tech students serve our world.

  • Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Committee - The GT BIIC was formed in late 2010 by SGA, to bring together graduate and undergraduate students with staff members of the Georgia Tech offices of Capital Planning and Space Management, Parking and Transportation, Facilities, etc. Together they are tasked with improving bicycle infrastructure on campus through the evaluation of existing facilities, the creation of events and programs, securing funding for facility improvements, and other related endeavors. They represent a commitment of students and staff to sustainability, mobility, safety, healthy living, and a choice of travel modes.

  • Cooks for Heritage, Education, Fellowship, and Service - Cooks for Heritage, Education, Fellowship, and Service, also known as CHEFS, is the cooking club on campus. We strive to provide our members with fun, interesting activities that both expand their cooking knowledge and help the community around them.

  • Circle K - Circle K is a service and leadership development organization for college students sponsored by Kiwanis International. We participate in volunteer projects around the community, such as at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Project Open Hand, Boys and Girls Club, and more. We have many leadership opportunities, including committee chair positions, and also promote fellowship among club members  by having various social events. There are also opportunities for awards and scholarships. Overall, we provide club members with as many chances to volunteer as possible and have fun at the same time.

  • Earth Day Planning Committee - Georgia Tech's Earth Day celebration is among the largest in the Southeastern US. This is possible because of dedicated people who work to bring this annual event into being. The Earth Day Planning Committee welcomes students into the process. If you are interested, conact Cindy Jackson.

  • Energy Club - The purpose of  the Energy Club is to educate students on the unique challenges and opportunities that are impacting the global energy industry. We bring together students, alumni, faculty and industry professionals in a forum that allows for interaction, discussion, exchange of innovative ideas and networking. We also develop student leadership specifically in the area of energy.

  • Engineers for a Sustainable World - Engineers for a Sustainable World at Georgia Tech promotes engineering that fosters environmental, social, and economic sustainability and focuses the combined resources of Georgia Tech students, faculty, and alumni to develop sustainable solutions for local, regional and national problems.

  • Engineers Without Borders - Georgia Tech - EWB-GT is a student chapter of a national non-profit organization called Engineers Without Borders-USA. We serve as a resource for connecting Georgia Tech students with opportunities for personal development and a stronger understanding of global health concerns and humanitarian engineering. Our student members design and implement solutions for health and infrastructure needs in developing communities.
  • Enterprise to Empower - Enterprise to Empower (En2Em, also serves as the undergraduate chapter of Net Impact) is a Georgia Tech student organization that seeks to educate, enable, and engage students in social entrepreneurship, helping them discover how their skills and talents in any field -- from business to engineering -- can be applied to the social problems of the world today. More than just enabling students to start new enterprises and organizations, En2Em sees the need to equip all those in our generation with the skills of leadership, creativity, and empathy for others so that they may become positive change-agents in their communities and workplaces.

  • Georgia Tech Model UN - GTMUN is a two day conference for high school students that takes place on Georgia Tech’s campus. Established in 1998, this conference has worked to bring international affairs to the high schools of the Southeast. The conference has grown in size over the years and now attracts schools from the entire Southeast and beyond. Run by Georgia Tech students from a variety of majors, GTMUN offers a range of committees and issues for high school students to enjoy. We strive to educate and enlighten high school students on a number of international issues. We also help develop the public speaking, writing, and leadership skills of the high schools students and our staff.

  • HyTech Racing - HyTech Racing is a student team at the Georgia Institute of Technology that formed with the intent of competing at the Formula Hybrid International Competition. The annual Formula Hybrid International Competition is an offshoot from the prestigious Formula SAE Competition. Hosted by Dartmouth College, it has been held five times starting in 2007 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. From late April to early May, teams from educational institutions around the world bring plug-in hybrid-electric, open-wheeled vehicles to perform in a variety of design and performance challenges. Design, Endurance, Autocross, and Acceleration events emphasize the importance of a balance between performance and efficiency.

  • Ideas 2 Serve - I2S is a business  plan competition for current Georgia Tech students and recent alumni who have early stage product/service ideas or venture concepts that are geared towards creating a better world. Entries might focus on reducing poverty, alleviating hunger, promoting health and wellness, improving air and water quality, reducing of the rate of depletion of natural resources, or developing alternate sources of energy just to name a few!

  • The Maker's Club - The Makers Club is a collective of students who believe in the value of a hands on education. Our Mission is twofold: To provide students the resources they need to design and fabricate in a collaborative environment; and to educate the Georgia Tech community on fabrication with open, student taught classes and events.

  • Net Impact - Net Impact inspires a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world's toughest social and environmental problems. We empower student and professional leaders to act locally though our vibrant chapter network and connect globally online and through our flagship conference. By 2020, we will mobilize a million new leaders to drive positive change in the workplace and the world.

  • (ORGT) Outdoor Recreation Georgia Tech - We offer a number of programs throughout the year from caving and rock climbing to whitewater rafting and sea kayaking. Rent equipment at the Wilderness Outpost for your own camping excursion or join us on an organized outing. ORGT employs staff and students and accepts volunteers.

  • Society for BioDiversity - The Society for BioDiversity aims to encourage and facilitate student involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives to promote and increase the retention of underrepresented and underserved minorities in STEM careers. Many of our initiatives are bidirectional in order to impact students on-campus as well as students in local K-12 schools. Through facilitating professional development, community outreach, networking among peers, peer mentorship, we hope to help to impact the diversity and growth in the biology world.

  • (SEED) Society of Engineers for Environmental Development - Interested in organizing the biggest imagination and ideation party ever? SEED focuses on fabricating, encouraging the process of ideation, and problem solving with application to real world problems in the fields of alternate energy systems, global warming, sustainable energy, healthcare, communication, human interaction and much more.

  • Solar Jackets - The Georgia Tech Solar Jackets is a student organization dedicated to the design and construction of competitive solar racing vehicles. We seek to develop teamwork, leadership, and innovative engineering skills by providing training and hands-on experience in solving real-world engineering problems. We are a student-run organization, built on the dedication and ambition of our members. The solar race car project promotes cross-disciplinary learning and interaction, and it necessitates engineering excellence, leadership, and teamwork from all students involved.

  • Starter Bikes - Starter Bikes began as a collaborative project between Georgia Tech’s Students Organizing for Sustainability and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Volunteers refurbish abandoned and donated bikes into low-cost, entry level bicycles for students and community members in need of inexpensive but reliable transportation. The program is also available for people who would like to try a bike, but don’t want to make a large up-front investment until they have more experience. Starter Bikes also provides free access to tools, so you can fix your bike yourself. Volunteers are available to provide mechanical expertise.

  • Student Government Association Sustainability Committee - The purpose of the Campus Sustainability Committee is to facilitate cooperation between faculty, staff and student sustainability movements and present a united front for Georgia Tech Sustainability efforts in our interactions with the City of Atlanta and larger global community, and further to be direct advocates for students' sustainability concerns in SGA.

  • (SOS) Students Organizing for Sustainability - Students Organizing for Sustainability is a student-run organization at the Georgia Institute of Technology dedicated to promoting the awareness and implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable practices on our campus and in the local Atlanta community. Our current main effort is the operation and enhancement of the Georgia Tech Community Garden, located at the southeast corner of the Instructional Center building.

  • Tech Beautification Day - Tech Beautification Day is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to volunteer to work on campus beautification and landscaping projects.

  • Trailblazers - The purpose of GT Trailblazers is to increase student and faculty appreciation for the outdoors through trail adventure and exploration. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, GT Trailblazers also leads a variety of environmental service projects in the Atlanta metropolitan area. These projects are open to both students and faculty, and include but are not limited to trail-building and maintenance projects on hiking and biking trails, invasive species removal, and other conservation-related projects.