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The Environmental Sustainability program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster together with 1) the Environmental Engineering program and 2) the Nanoscale Interactions program.
The goal of the Environmental Sustainability program is to promote 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. Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society's need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.
Full Proposal Accepted Anytime
Areas of Interest
There are five principal general research areas that are supported.
- Circular Bioeconomy Engineering: This area includes research that enables sustainable societal use of food, energy, water, nitrogen, phosphorus, and materials, with the reduction and eventual elimination of fossil fuel combustion that lacks carbon capture. The program encourages research that helps build the raw material basis for the functioning of society principally on biomass, drawing heavily on sustainable agriculture and forestry. Additionally, material flows must reduce or preferably eliminate waste, with an emphasis on closed-loop or “circular” processing.
- Industrial ecology: Topics of interest include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, net energy analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems. Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged.
- 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 management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainability may also be fruitful areas for research.
- Ecological engineering: Proposals should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems. Engineering research in the enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.
- Earth systems engineering: Earth systems engineering considers aspects of large-scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global 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 proposal awards in CBET is generally up to three years. Single-investigator award budgets typically include support for one graduate student (or equivalent) and up to one month of PI time per year (awards for multiple investigator projects are typically larger). Proposal budgets that are much larger than typical should be discussed with the program director prior to submission.