Resources and their flows are vital for sustaining the well-being and prosperity of society. These resources are finite, and their distribution across the planet and its communities is uneven. The imbalance in resource flows is widely believed to be a root contributor to global warming. Fortunately, the global and regional systems that civil and environmental engineers envision, design and build are ideally positioned to alter the flow of resources to create more sustainable habitats. We are reimagining how to manage resources, implement new scientific approaches, design innovations, develop business models and create more equitable access to resources in ways that disrupt the modus operandi. In this way, the efforts of civil and environmental engineers will create efficient resource utilization and sustainable resource management.
In 2015, 200 billion gallons of stormwater went down the drain in California, enough to supply 1.4 million households for a year.
We are rapidly moving from a single-use mindset to a circular mindset around use and management of resources. Materials previously classified as waste, such as municipal and industrial waste, can be safely repurposed for use by other sectors of the economy or other communities. New approaches to capturing and managing all sources of fresh water, such as urban stormwater, can combat water scarcity and provide greater water security. Rich nutrients can be extracted from urine and used to produce fertilizers for food production. Carbon dioxide emitted by industrial processes, including in the creation of infrastructure materials, can be collected and sequestered in built infrastructure.
Novel approaches to managing resource flows require new ways of thinking and interacting with stakeholders and society, who are the ultimate managers, consumers and also producers of resources. We are using the principles of co-design and community engagement to share knowledge in ways that result in user engagement and conservation-minded behavior.
Brian Ellis awarded Sloan Foundation “net zero” grant
The Alfred P. Sloan grant funds projects furthering technologies that sequester carbon or have zero emissions.
Data is Life
How data collected deep in the Amazon could provide a window into the Earth’s climate future.
A sewage surveillance effort to track COVID-19
We don’t know much about how coronaviruses move through the environment. U-M and Stanford engineers aim to change that.
Our strategic vision positions civil and environmental engineers as the scientific, technological and business leaders tackling the complex societal grand challenges ahead. We have identified five strategic directions that will inform our future growth.Explore our five strategic directions »