Sustainable Systems

Oakland Bay bridge at night

The world’s population is growing. And with an increase in population comes a need for civil and environmental engineers to create solutions that accommodate this growth sustainably.

Emerging economies will account for much of the future population growth without the adequate resources to handle it. The lack of modern infrastructure will lead to a variety of health concerns — poor access to water or poor water quality, air pollution, inadequate systems for the collection or treatment of wastes and trash.

Much of the world’s population is concentrated in dense, urban areas. Cities offer opportunities for accommodating this growing population with lower per-capita energy consumption, concentrated jobs and social resources, and efficiency in delivering all manner of services that support our civilization.

However, cities also present their own problems, accounting for roughly three-quarters of all energy use and carbon emissions on the planet and placing a significant burden on the environment.

The population that remains in rural communities will face different challenges. Engineers will need to find unique approaches to creating effective infrastructure and delivering services to a scattered population that has very different transportation and energy needs than city-dwellers.

Researchers in CEEatGT are already imagining how we can approach these issues and create communities that grow responsibly while meeting the needs of the people who live in them.

We are imagining new ways to:

  • Reduce the carbon footprint of the infrastructure systems that make our growing societies possible.
  • Adapt to a changing climate while working to slow those changes.
  • Address crumbling infrastructure systems, prioritizing repairs and replacements while envisioning next-generation systems.
  • Responsibly plan for and build infrastructure in rapidly developing areas.
  • Plan for our future communities while balancing the needs of urban and rural areas.
  • Plan communities and transportation systems to foster energy-efficient mobility.
  • Understand the impact of climate change on the interactions between energy, water and land systems in order to mitigate the effects on human society.