NSF EFRI-RESIN Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS)

Project: Research project

Project Details


NSF EFRI-RESIN Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS) NSF EFRI-RESIN Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS) GRS: System Integration for Sustainable Infrastructure for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS) The goal of the SINEWS project is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability and resilience of urban water and energy infrastructures, and to offer solutions that span infrastructure design, management of the physical environment, and socio-economic policy. Fig. 1 illustrates the conceptual framework of the SINEWS project. The energy and water infrastructures will be studied to understand their resilience under various scenarios. The socio-economic environment driving energy and water supply will be modeled to provide policy suggestions for mitigating endogenous infrastructure risks. Finally, SINEWS will study the interactions between the flows of water and energy within the urban system and how changes in these flows can affect urban systems metabolism. Since the PI moved from Arizona State University to Georgia Tech in January 2009, SINEWS has recruited seven faculty investigators at Georgia Tech through the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems to expand the SINEWS research activities to the Atlanta metropolitan area as another testbed. In addition, Ms. Jean-Ann James, just received her Masters degree in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech, will be recruited by the PI to work for the SINEWS project while pursuing her Ph.D. degree also in environmental engineering starting Fall 2010. Ms. James will contribute to SINEWS on the system integration as indicated in Fig. 1. In particular, she will examine how switching from centralized to decentralized energy and water networks will affect the resiliency and metabolism of the entire urban system by understanding the interdependencies among energy and water flows and socio-economic drivers. Ms. James will collaborate with other SINEWS investigators and students to develop a generic framework for the integration of the three main components of the SINEWS project and use Atlanta as a testbed to calibrate the model. Literature reviews have been conducted by Ms. James in the field of urban metabolism. Despite various definitions [1-10], urban metabolism alludes to the efficiency of a city or urban region in processing energy and resources. Previous studies have used a material flow analysis (MFA) approach to quantify the flows of energy, water and materials feeding in a city and the flows of emssions and wastes generated by the city. These studies, however, do not analyze the reasons for the inefficiences that occur or how the inputs that enter the urban system are dissipated throughout to create emissions and wastes. In other words, these studies model the urban system as a blackbox, lacking insights on what happened within the blackbox. These are key issues for urban centers as their efficiency in processing energy and resources without knowing where their inefficiences lie. While other SINEWS investigators are working on modeling different components (i.e., energy/water infrastrucutre, socio-economic environment) within the blackbox, Ms. James will be supervised by the PI and work on connecting these components together to understand how to improve urban systems sustainability by changing their metabolism of energy and water. In particular, Ms. James will expand the current urban metabolism model by classifying Fig. 1. The SINEWS Conceptual Framework Fig. 2. Urban System as a Human Body Project Description-2 the urban system as a human composed by five main sub-systems. These sub-systems represent the flows of people, information, energy and materials, emissions, and the changes in the urban form. Fig. 2 illustrates this concept model and indicates some of the interactions among the sub-systems. Inefficiencies within these sub-systems as well as the interactions can affect the overall sustainability of the urban system. Ms. James work will integrate various portions of the SINEWS project to show how the interactions of the individual studies can have an overall effect on the overall GRDS: Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS) This Graduate Research Diversity Supplement (GRDS) aims to broaden underrepresented graduate student participation in Construction Engineering and Management, which is housed in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment (SSEBE) at Arizona State University. I have identified an excellent candidate, Maureen Cassin, a woman, who recently enrolled to pursue Ph.D. research in the area of sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems. She will continue with a current NSF EFRI-RESIN grant examining Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS). Maureen will continue on-going research examining the ways that we can better engineer water and power infrastructures in the context of their physical and social-economic environment to assurance efficiency (i.e. sustainability) and to reduce the risk of supply of or demand system failures through integrated planning, technological development and demand mitigation. Maureen will conduct research towards her dissertation working in the Center for Research in Underground Systems and Technology (CRUST) where she will join a team of four Ph.D. students and several M.S. students conducting research on buried infrastructure systems. The intellectual merit for the research that Maureen wants to conduct focuses on developing a model architecture that integrates water and power infrastructures with both their physical and socioeconomical environments. She will specifically work on the water infrastructure component of this larger multi-investigator research. Thus, her planned research would further the goals of SINEWS by developing: 1) design principles for both the water infrastructure and the physical environment in which they are embedded (resilience); and 2) a set of decision-support tools for the economic management of water infrastructure risks over time scales which match the life span of the infrastructures (sustainability). Maureens background in Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering (dual B.S. degrees) will be particularly beneficial in researching and evaluating the design elements of the water infrastructure, while her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) provides an excellent foundation for studying economic management aspects. Furthermore, her research will enable us to build on current research in sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems from the perspective of construction engineering and management. NSF EFRI-RESIN: Sustainable Infrastructures for Energy and Water Supply (SINEWS) The goal of this supplemental proposal is to initialize a new collaboration with Dr. Rusong Wang and RCEES to understand the growth of Chinese eco-cities and how those principles can be applied to other regional and global urban areas beyond the United States. This proposed effort will focus on the recent trends in Chinas eco-urban development through field survey, literature review and collection of statistical and case study data. More importantly, we will verify our NSF EFRI RESIN SINEWS findings of sustainable and resilient infrastructure designs, modeling and socio-economic drivers. Specifically, 1) We will participate in understanding local residents preference for green infrastructures and predicting the adoption of green infrastructures for new development in Yangzhou. 2) We will study the interdependent water-energy-material flows at a pilot scale based on an ecovillage, Mentougou, Beijing for complex urban system modeling. The improvement in sustainability from investing in eco-infrastructure will be predicted theoretically by the complex model and validated using the empirical tracking data in this pilot project. 3) We will collect a set of 26 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as ambient air quality, quality of tap water, etc. that monitors the construction and operation of Tianjin Eco-city. We will analyze the effectiveness of these KPIs in directing sustainability practices. 4) We will conduct a second review on the sustainability of Yangzhou and the adoption of sustainable practices after Yangzhou won the United Nations Habitat Award in 2006. 5) We will collect initial data about built infrastructure for water, energy, transportation and waste disposal, regulations and incentives for sustainability, stakeholders ecological awareness of ecoinfrastructure, the quality of governance and management, and institutional reform in urban planning and management. 6) We will collaborate with Dr. Rusong Wang and RCEES on publications that summarize the complexity of Chinese cities sustainability issues and current achievement in sustainability. We will recommend location-specific sustainability research needs in eco-cities. Intellectual Merit: This supplement extends the work of SINEWS to advance our understanding of the interdependency of urban water and energy infrastructures in particular physical and socio-economic environments, and find solutions for enhancing their resilience and sustainability. The goal is being achieved by developing and integrating four sets of models: 1) models to integrate water and energy networks and an existing fine-grid urban growth model with the biophysical environment; 2) models to predict failure events in water infrastructures as a function of exogenous risk factors; 3) looped mesh network models of energy supply with distributed generation; 4) models for the management of endogenous risks due to interactions between the infrastructures, the physical and the socio-economic environments. SINEWS represents a new systems approach to engineering the resilience of critical infrastructures in the context of their physical and socio-economic environments. The approach solves the problem of resilient and sustainable water and energy infrastructures, by focusing both on their flexibility and adaptability in the face of a given structure of risks, and on the management of the physical and socio-economic environments to mitigate endogenous risks. Broader Impacts: The model architecture developed in Atlanta, Phoenix, and now in select locations in China could be used to develop models for other urban areas throughout the world. Simulations with integrated regional-scale models will generate insights into the resilience of water and energy infrastructures under a range of environmental scenarios. These insights may be useful in establishing a national research agenda for integrated urban sustainability science and engineering.
Effective start/end date9/15/088/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $2,324,821.00


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