Catalyst Research Project 2017

Built Environment and Sustainability

Faculty Director: Professor Huaizhu Oliver Gao

Headshots of Profs: Gao, Cowen, Daziano and McLaskey


Edwin A. Cowen, Professor
Ricardo A. Daziano, David Croll Fellow Associate Professor
Gregory C. McLaskey, Assistant Professor

Headhots of Profs. Nozick, Samaranayake, Warner and Weber-Shirk
Linda K. Nozick, Director Civil and Environmental Engineering
Samitha Samaranayake, Assistant Professor
Derek H. Warner, Associate Professor
Monroe Weber-Shirk, Senior Lecturer

Project Description

Graphic showing cycle of air pollution, community health, water pollution and transportation emissionsBuilt environment provides the critical foundation and shape generations of civilization for livable communities. They are the fabric that connects the spatial, social and economic structure of cities and provides critical services for the public health, economic well-being, and security of urban communities. Stress in the built environment is reflected in structural deterioration and interruption of service from increased exposure to both natural and anthropogenic hazards. Physical infrastructure and interdependent social and economic systems are also stressed by population growth; social inequities; and the institutional barriers to integrated management of built environment. Natural resources and environmental quality have also been increasingly impacted by built environment, posing tremendous challenges which individual communities and nations must confront. Global transportation infrastructure, for instance, has evolved to an enormous scale – nearly a billion cars and trucks move people and goods along the world’s roadways – and consumers spend trillions of dollars each year on personally owned vehicles to enable personal mobility. In the meantime, transportation-related air pollution (e.g., ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM) pollution) is an issue of significant importance in the U.S. and across the world.
Subway entrance in New York City's Times SquareIn the 2017 CATALYST Academy project, Built Environment and Sustainability, CTECH will expose students to a wide spectrum of lab topics from human behavior/decision to structure design/testing. The students will study the concept and management of built environment, natural environment, and community health. Specific topics of built environment and sustainability may include 1) planning, design and management of multimodal transportation systems in which engineers can contribute to addressing a wide variety of challenges, ranging from congestion to security to environmental impact; 2) Analysis, design, and construction of built environment such as buildings, bridges, concrete dams, tanks, and towers, as well as a great diversity of other structures; and 3) Programs in water systems such as the the AguaClara program to address the need for sustainable municipal scale water treatment in resource poor communities.

Students works in concrete canoe lab space

Labs and topics include:

  • Sustainability in your hand—Human Behavior: Surveying Consumers: Decisions of Economically and Environmentally Informed Travelers in Urban Networks
  • Transit network design
  • Transportation Management in Practice
  • Transportation, Air pollution, and Public Exposure
  • Vibrations in Structures
  • AquaClara
  • 3-D print your own canoe and test it