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Sustainability @
the University of Rochester

Sustainability Research Proposals Sought

Research proposals related to environmental sustainability are being sought by the National Science Foundation Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems – proposal due date Feb. 20, 2014
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The Environmental Sustainability program supports engineering research with the goal of promoting sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems.  These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival.  The long-term viability of natural capital is critical for many areas of human endeavor.  Research in Environmental Sustainability typically considers long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics.
This program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society's need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.  There are four principal general research areas which are supported, but others can be proposed by contacting the program director by email at:

  • Industrial Ecology
  • Green Engineering
  • Ecological Engineering
  • Earth Systems Engineering

Topics of interest in Industrial Ecology include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems.  Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged. 
In Green Engineering, research is encouraged to advance the sustainability of manufacturing processes, green buildings, and infrastructure.  Many programs in the Engineering Directorate support research in environmentally benign manufacturing or chemical processes.  The Environmental Sustainability program supports research that would affect more than one chemical or manufacturing process or that takes a systems or holistic approach to green engineering for infrastructure or green buildings.  Improvements in distribution and collection systems that will advance smart growth strategies and ameliorate effects of growth are research areas that are supported by Environmental Sustainability.  Innovations in prevention and management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainable construction projects may also be fruitful areas for research.
NOTE:  For proposals involving any aspect of chemistry, including but not limited to biochemistry or physical chemistry, consider making proposal submissions to this program (7643) with the Proposal Title as:  ‘SusChEM: Name of Your Proposal'.  See SusChEM[] - New NSF Emphasis Area.  Likewise for proposals involving sustainable engineering.
Ecological Engineering topics should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems.  Engineering research in enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.  Many communities are involved in stream restoration, revitalization of urban rivers, and rehabilitation of wetlands that require engineering input.  What is the fundamental engineering knowledge that is necessary for ecological engineering to function sustainability?
Earth Systems Engineering considers aspects of large scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global scale concerns.
All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposals should include involvement in engineering research of at least one graduate student, as well as undergraduates. Incorporation of aspects of social, behavioral, and economic sciences is welcomed.
The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years.  The average annual award size for the program is $100,000.  Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review. 
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For the entire program summary: