Core faculty at the Center for Sustainable Systems manage a range of labs to address research focused on the built environment, energy, food, mobility and water systems.
Sustainability Without Borders || Jose Alfaro
SWB is an interdisciplinary student organization that works with communities to develop ethical partnerships for learning and enhancing sustainability. This organization labors to provide students with a meaningful engaged experience that also increases the capacity of the communities and NGOs it works with and increases their well-being. SWB research revolves around three main efforts: using Industrial Symbiosis at the small-scale to increase communities’ sustainability and well-being; deploying renewable energy for sustainable development of least industrialized countries; and developing tools for policy and decision-making through computer modeling of socio-technical systems.
ASSET Lab || Michael T. Craig
The Advancing Sustainable Systems through low-impact Energy Technologies (ASSET) Lab contributes to achieving a sustainable and equitable world through system-driven interdisciplinary research and education.
Hydrologic Science and Uncertainty Assessment Group || Drew Gronewold
Our research focuses on developing and communicating answers to important societal questions about historical and future variability in regional water quantity and quality over multiple time scales. We pursue projects that directly support sustainable environmental and human health management and policy decisions. Planning for and adapting to fluctuating water supplies, for example, requires differentiating and effectively communicating relative impacts of climate change, consumptive use, and engineered water management solutions. Similarly, ensuring water supplies are of a high enough quality to meet their intended use requires identifying and mitigating detrimental impacts of point and non-point source pollution and understanding complex coastal physical processes. We develop creative and high-impact solutions to these types of real-world hydrologic science problems through novel modeling and statistical analysis techniques, direct engagement with stakeholders, and integration of expertise and resources across scientific disciplines and institutions.
Life Cycle Analysis and Carbon Accounting || Gregory A. Keoleian
His research group focuses on the development and application of life cycle models and sustainability metrics to guide the design and improvement of products and technology. Life cycle assessment, design and optimization techniques explore production and consumption processes from raw materials acquisition, through manufacturing, use and end-of-life management. This serves as a comprehensive framework for carbon accounting which is used to develop carbon footprints and analyze strategies to accelerate decarbonization. Through our interdisciplinary research, we analyze diverse systems including electrified vehicle technology (e.g., autonomous, BEVs, FCVs), renewable energy technologies, buildings and infrastructure, consumer products and packaging, and a variety of food systems. Current work emphasizes life cycle modeling of greenhouse gas emissions for guiding energy transitions and climate solutions in these sectors. Over the years, a diverse team of students, postdocs, and research staff have engaged with hundreds of external partners from business and industry, government agencies and national labs, NGO’s and other community stakeholders and have established a valuable network for launching new research.
Center for Sustainable Systems || Shelie A. Miller
Our research uses life cycle assessment and scenario modeling to identify environmental problems before they occur. By proactively understanding the environmental issues of emerging technologies, we can identify a greater number of options and more creative solutions to avoid or reduce negative consequences. Our research group works on a variety of energy-related topics, including the energy-water nexus, bioenergy, refrigeration in the food system, and autonomous vehicles.
Urban Sustainability Research Group || Joshua P. Newell
The Urban Sustainability Research Group is devoted to developing and fostering an integrated, holistic vision for urban sustainability and resilience. This research emphasis stems from the conviction that to mitigate (and adapt to) climate change and to address global ecological crises, we need to fundamentally reshape and redesign our urban areas–where more than half of the world’s population already lives, works, and consumes.
Urban Energy Justice Lab || Tony G. Reames
The Urban Energy Justice Lab focuses on the production and persistence of spatial, racial, and socioeconomic disparities in accessibility and affordability of energy services, technologies, and programs. The Urban Energy Justice Lab also partners in developing equity-centered solutions for increasing energy democracy.
Center for Sustainable Systems || Parth Vaishnav
Our work helps create technologies and policies for equitable decarbonization. We want to address real-world problems with solutions that will work in the real world. Our research cuts across disciplines: we work with engineers, economists, decision scientists, and public health experts. We want to collaborate with community organizations, with governments, and with industry. Examples of ongoing work include the Heating with Justice project, which seeks to ensure that the electrification of home heating does not exacerbate existing inequalities in energy burdens.
Complex Sustainability Research Group || Ming Xu
The overarching objective of our research is to understand the interactions between industrial systems and the biophysical environment. Our research consists of two core elements: 1) environmental footprints of societal consumption at the regional, national, and global levels, and 2) life cycle environmental impacts of emerging technologies. Through externally funded projects, our research ambition is to provide an understanding of driving forces of environmental pressures and to assist in finding alternative development pathways that can reduce these pressures. Our research is inherently interdisciplinary, integrating concepts and methods from multiple disciplines including industrial ecology, data science, and complex systems science.