Universities are leading the way when it comes to cities of the future. The University of Minnesota, Columbia University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology are heading up a consortium of colleges, scientists, policymakers, and industry leaders to re-imagine our infrastructure in more sustainable ways.
With an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050, the issue of urban sustainability is a pressing one. “'We have to think in new ways about a city’s physical infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions,' said Anu Ramaswami of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who is the lead investigator and director for the project. 'Understanding that these systems are interconnected serves as a foundation for this work.'" Each university in this consortium is partnering with its local city to explore green infrastructure solutions, such as bike shares, urban farms, local solar generation, and more.
This integrated, comprehensive approach to sustainable cities incorporates many academic disciplines, including the sciences, urban planning, economics, and sociology. It also provides an array of opportunities for students to see these disciplines from a sustainable perspective, preparing them well for green jobs of the future.
Colorado State University researchers will be part of a unique network of scientists, industry leaders and policy partners committed to building better cities of the future.
The consortium, supported by a $12 million Sustainability Research Network award from the National Science Foundation and led by the University of Minnesota, Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, includes nine universities, major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and India, infrastructure firms and policy groups, all focused on creating cities that are highly functional, promote the health of residents and the environment, and have that intangible “vibe” called livability that makes cities desirable places to live and work.
Daniel Zimmerle, senior research associate at Colorado State, will bring his expertise in distributed energy grids to the project. He has been instrumental in the research that has created Fort ZED, the net-zero energy district in Fort Collins and is currently researching micro-grid technology designed to bring energy to rural villages in Rwanda.
“We have to think in new ways about a city’s physical infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions,” said Anu Ramaswami of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who is the lead investigator and director for the project. “Understanding that these systems are interconnected serves as a foundation for this work. For example, urban farms wouldn’t work very well without thinking about water, energy, and transportation infrastructure, as well as people, markets and policies.”