BBISS's Big Ideas Archive

  • Goldia Mae Burchfield Memorial Scholarship to Support Undergrads

    The Goldia Mae Burchfield Memorial Scholarship is open for contributions again this year. It was established last year to support students in pursuit of their undergraduate degree. Ms. Burchfield, mother to Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Financial Manager, Gay Burchfield, died of COVID-19 on June 8th, 2020, at the age of 80, in Starkville, Mississippi. She lived a life of service to those in her community, with a particular emphasis on education. 

    The Burchfield family selected sophomore Catherine Shamanski in the College of Psychology to receive a $200 scholarship. Shamanski will serve as a Team Leader in a section of the GT-1000 class, helping incoming first year students to find their footing on campus.


  • Micro-Grants Awarded for Campus Community-Based Research

    The Kendeda Building Advisory Board has awarded five micro research grants ($50 to $500) for sustainability related, small-scale, short term studies to be conducted by members of the Georgia Tech community. The request for proposals encouraged researchers to explore ways in which the Georgia Tech campus can continue to innovate, demonstrate, prove, and promote the adoption of best and next practices in regenerative design and operations. Researchers were also encouraged to use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for research design. All members of the Georgia Tech community were encouraged to apply.


  • National Academy Publishes Study Showing How Georgia Could Halve its Carbon Footprint

    The proposed solutions include boosting solar farms, electric vehicle adoption, retrofitting buildings, implementing nature-based forestry solutions, and reducing food waste.


  • Seven Grad Students Chosen for BBISS Graduate Fellows Program

    The inaugural class of seven Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) Graduate Fellows was recently selected for a 2-year program of working, studying, and training as an interdisciplinary sustainability research team. Launching in the Fall of 2021 with funding provided by a generous gift from Brook and Shawn Byers and guidance from a Faculty Advisory Board, the BBISS Graduate Fellows will receive supplemental training in sustainability, team science, and leadership. They will apply their skills and talents, working directly with their peers, faculty, and external partners on a long-term, large team, sustainability relevant Vertically Integrated Project. They will participate in the organization and hosting of a seminar series in which they will invite and meet global leaders in sustainability, and they will have additional opportunities to develop professional networks, to publish, to draft proposals, to acquire knowledge, and to develop other skills critical to their professional success and relevant to their intellectual interests.


  • Request for Proposals: Micro Research Grants for Regenerative Built Environments

    The Kendeda Building Advisory Board will provide micro research grants ($50 to $500) to eligible participants to conduct research relevant to the topic of regenerative built environments. The research must incorporate the campus itself or its operations. We encourage submittals that explore ways in which our campus can continue to innovate, demonstrate, prove, and promote the adoption of best and next practices in regenerative design and operations.

    More Details...

  • Engineers Without Borders Project Installs 100 Clean Cookstoves in Nicaragua

    In 2013, Georgia Tech student Heidi Vreeland visited the community of Nuevo Amanecer, a small neighborhood in rural Nicaragua. While there, Vreeland was struck by how damaging the method of cooking with an open fire could be to people’s respiratory health, exposing them to high levels of smoke, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. This led to the beginning of a project to give the people of Nuevo Amanecer clean cookstoves, a project that’s been the work of Georgia Tech’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) for almost eight years now.

    The project, funded in part by the Georgia Tech Student Foundation and Parents Fund, has led to the installation of nearly 100 clean cookstoves in Nuevo Amanecer over the last two years.


  • Statewide Climate Solutions Powered by Georgia Tech Research Debut

    Drawdown Georgia, the statewide effort powered by research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and other universities to find cost-effective ways to drastically cut the state’s carbon footprint, publicly rolls out its top 20 solutions this week.

    Led by noted energy and climate policy expert Marilyn Brown, Regents and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, the cross-campus research team identified solutions that could, based on existing science, cut the state’s CO2 emissions by one-third by 2030.


  • Memorial Scholarship Established to Support Undergrads

    The Goldia Mae Burchfield Memorial Scholarship was established to support students in pursuit of their undergraduate degree. Ms. Burchfield, mother to Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Financial Manager, Gay Burchfield, died on June 8th, 2020, at the age of 80, in Starkville, Mississippi of COVID-19.

    Ms. Burchfield, lived a life of service to those in her community, with a particular emphasis on education. During the segregation era, her family moved from rural Mississippi to a larger town where she could pursue her high school education, which she completed in 1958. She worked as a part-time custodian in a local bank for 35 years, as well as numerous odd jobs to care for her family and her community. Ms. Burchfield would put together care packages with stipends for the young people of her community who were college bound...


  • Major Advantages of Electrochemical Advanced Oxidation Processes for Treatment of Some Industrial Wastewaters

    BBISS director John Crittenden recently published a cover story with co-author David Kujawski in the professional journal, Water Technology. The article appears in the May/June 2020 edition, and is entitled “Oil Refining and Petrochemical Wastewater Treatment: Creating a Better Mousetrap.” The piece describes the current practice for treatment of industrial wastewaters using a biological treatment method that is typically known as activated sludge. This method has been in use for about the past century and its effectiveness at treating the most difficult waste streams, such as those found in Oil Refining and Petrochemical industry, is somewhat limited. Electrochemical Advanced Oxidation Processes (eAOPs) offer notable advantages over activated sludge, especially with waste streams that contain high levels of complex hydrocarbons and exhibit highly variable levels of contaminant concentration.


  • Top Paper for ES&T Journal Awarded to Georgia Tech Author and Co-Authors

    BBISS Director John Crittenden, and esteemed co-authors, have been awarded the Top Feature Article of 2019 by the Environmental Science & Technology Editorial Advisory Board.  The article is entitled “The Technology Horizon for Photocatalytic Water Treatment: Sunrise or Sunset?”  It appeared in the March 19, 2019 issue of the journal.  As of the writing of this piece, it has 10,909 views, and has been cited by 56 publications.


  • Brown, Engle, Nemirovski Elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Brook Byers Professor, Marilyn Brown is among 3 Georgia Tech faculty elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the Academy is among the highest honors a scientist can achieve.

    Scientific endeavors across Georgia Tech are broad, deep, and varied — a fact underscored last week when the National Academy of Sciences announced three Tech scholars among its newest members.  Marilyn Brown is one of the nation’s top analysts of clean energy policy; Randall Engle is a leader in understanding individual differences in memory and attention; and Arkadi Nemirovski has helped shape the field of continuous optimization. Each now joins an elite group of the nation’s foremost scientists in a historic moment for the Institute: It’s the first time three scientists from Tech have been elected to the Academy in a single year.


  • Earth Day Goes Online

    We are offering virtual ways to experience Earth Day from home all week April 13-17! We will be sharing the message of Earth Day throughout the week with special items added to the website every day!  Monday - Sustainable Entertainment, Tuesday - Sustainable Cooking, Wednesday - Zero Waste Instagram Takeover, Thursday - Materials Diversion Class Showcase, Friday - Kendeda Building Virtual Tour

    More Details...

  • Brook Byers Professor Brown Among Four GT Faculty Elected to National Academy of Engineering

    Four Georgia Institute of Technology faculty members have been elected as new members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Marilyn Brown, Thomas Kurfess, Susan Margulies, and Alexander Shapiro join 83 other new NAE members for 2020 when they are formally inducted during a ceremony at the academy’s annual meeting on Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C.


  • John Crittenden to Receive 2020 ASCE Simon W. Freese Award

    The American Society of Civil Engineers recently announced that BBISS Director and Civil Engineering Professor John Crittenden will be presented with the 2020 Simon W. Freese Environmental Engineering Award and Lecture. This award is given to recognize “extraordinary accomplishments in using fundamental scientific principles and current research findings to solve the most challenging water quality problems.” The award and monetary prize will be formally given during the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in 2020.


  • The Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business Participates in Inaugural Sustainability Showcase

    Faculty, staff, and students affiliated with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business at Scheller College of Business (“Center”) contributed to Georgia Tech’s inaugural Sustainability Showcase. The public event, which was organized by the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (“BBISS”), occurred over three full days, from October 28 through 30. It was held at the recently opened Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, the most environmentally advanced education and research building ever constructed in the Southeast.


  • John Crittenden Recipient of China Friendship Award

    Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems director John Crittenden has been awarded the China Friendship award at a ceremony in the Hall of the People in Beijing on China Day.  The award is given to recognize outstanding contributions made by foreign experts in China’s drive to modernize.  It is the highest government award that can be given to non-citizens of China. One hundred experts from 31 different countries were given the award this year to commemorate the 70th year since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  Normally, 50 Friendship Awards are given each year on China Day. A total of 1,699 experts have received the award since it was established in 1991.


  • Georgia Tech Included in Major Water Desalination Research Initiative

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) has been chosen to lead a large research and development effort called the Energy-Water Desalination Hub. This effort is targeted at addressing water security issues in the United States by developing innovative water treatment technologies that can make “non-traditional” water sources available for a wide range of potable and non-potable uses. 


  • Chen and Crittenden Awarded $100K Planning Grant

    Civil and Environmental Engineering Professors Yonhsheng Chen and John Crittenden have received a $100K National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) Planning Grant, along with their co-principal investigators Kaye Husbands Fealing and Perry Yang, also from Georgia Tech, and Zhaohui Tong from the University of Florida. The title of this group’s proposed ERC is “Engineering Research Center for Urban Agricultural Infrastructure Systems.” The Center will investigate novel ways to integrate the functions of the cluster of urban infrastructure systems known as NEWT (nutrient, energy, water, and transportation). Integrating and optimizing these infrastructure systems will diversify, decentralize, localize, and democratize food production, processing, and distribution in urban areas where most people will live and where NEWT, and labor, resources are readily available and often wasted.


  • Brook Byers Professors Win $100K Planning Grant

    Brook Byers Professors Bert Bras and Marc Weissburg have been awarded a $100K National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) Planning Grant, along with their co-principal investigators Srinivas Garimella and Shannon Yee, also from Georgia Tech, and Scott Turner from The State University of New York. The ERC is a highly competitive, large, multi-year award centered on translating a research topic from the laboratory to commercialization. The title of this group’s proposed ERC is “Biologically Inspired Realizable Design for Building Energy Eco-Systems (BIRDBEES).” The Center’s focus will be to develop self-sustaining, carbon-neutral building energy systems. The BIRDBEES investigators aim to accomplish this by looking to nature for inspiration in a systematic and scientific way.


  • Brook Byers Professor Weissburg Wins $3M Grant to Bring Biologically Inspired Design to High Schools

    The way a ladybug folds its wings can help aerospace engineers design more compact satellites. Studying how ants dig tunnels could help us create our own tunnels more efficiently.

    The idea of using nature’s examples to develop products and designs that benefit society is the cornerstone of a new project at Georgia Tech that aims to get more high school students interested in engineering.

    Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the $3 million effort will put high school engineering teachers in research labs at Georgia Tech for five weeks.


  • Brook Byers Prof. Brown Takes Deep Dive into Energy Poverty in New Paper

    “In an era of U.S. energy abundance, the persistently high energy bills paid by low-income households is troubling.”  So begins the abstract to a new paper authored by Brook Byers Professor Marylin Brown and several co-authors.  Prof. Brown is also a Georgia Regents’ Professor, Director of the Georgia Tech Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory, and a Nobel Laureate.  The paper was recently published in the open access journal Progress in Energy, the full title of which is “Low-income Energy Affordability in an Era of U.S. Energy Abundance.”


  • Electric Racing Team from Georgia Tech Wins International Competition

    For the second year in a row, HyTech Racing has brought the first-place trophy from Formula Hybrid back to Georgia Tech. The team outperformed its previous record, running in the Acceleration and Autocross events for the first time at this competition and placing first in the Autocross event with a 44.092 second run. With their 368 lb vehicle, the lightest at the competition, HyTech was the only team to finish the 44 km Endurance course this year, beating the University of Vermont’s previous 01:25:15 record with a 01:15:56 track time and becoming the second electric team to ever complete the 44 km Endurance course in Formula Hybrid history.


  • Georgia Tech Solar Decathlon Team Wins Prize

    A team from Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture, School of Building Construction, and School of Computational Science and Engineering won first place in the category for net-zero energy, urban single-family home at the 2019 Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, April 12-14 2019, held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

    The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that tasks student teams with designing and building highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. This year, the Department of Energy combined two student building design competitions to create the new Solar Decathlon competition.


  • Georgia Tech to Launch State’s First Sustainability Master’s Program

    The Georgia Institute of Technology is launching a new Master’s of Science in Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) — the only graduate degree in Georgia fully dedicated to sustainability issues.

    The highly technical, science-based, and interdisciplinary program — approved by the Board of Regents on Feb. 12, 2019 — will prepare students to deliver fact-based policy expertise through robust analytical techniques and a deep understanding of energy and environmental issues and sustainability practices.

    “This professionally focused degree will allow Georgia Tech to educate the next generation of sustainability leaders in corporate, government, and non-governmental organizations,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “Georgia Tech is proud to deliver innovative, affordable, and top-quality education in high-demand areas such as sustainability to meet the needs of our evolving workforce."


  • Durability Vs. Recyclability: Dueling Goals in Making Electronics More Sustainable

    The falling cost of solar power has led to a boom in recent years, with more and more photovoltaic panels popping up on rooftops and backyard solar farms around the world.

    But what happens to all of those solar panels in a couple of decades when they reach the end of their useful life? And what about electronic devices with even shorter life spans?

    Those questions are at the heart of new research released by a team at Georgia Institute of Technology, where researchers looked into the impact of government policies put in place to reduce the amount of electronics waste filling up landfills.

    “There is a lot of concern in sustainability circles that manufacturers are making things with shorter and shorter life spans, and products are perhaps even intentionally made to become obsolete to induce replacement purchases,” said Beril Toktay, a professor at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.


  • Richard Fujimoto Chosen for Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award

    The Faculty Honors Committee has awarded the Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award to Regent’s Professor Richard Fujimoto. This award was established to recognize Georgia Tech faculty who have made significant interdisciplinary contributions to teaching and research. The award will be presented at the annual Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon to be held on Friday, April 19, 2019.

    Fujimoto’s research is concerned with discrete-event simulation programs on parallel and distributed computing platforms. Because his work spans several application areas, Fujimoto’s work is highly interdisciplinary.  Some of the topics he has worked on include transportation systems, telecommunication networks, multi-processor, and defense systems. He is a frequent collaborator in the work of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems...


  • New SURFers Chosen to Continue Developing Living Building Interactive Monitoring Systems

    Twenty three Georgia Tech students have been selected for the second class of Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF). Twenty are new to the position, and three are returning from the previous year of the program. The paid research fellows are developing prototypes of interactive building monitoring systems that convey the unique elements, qualities, and performance of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design (under construction) and the behaviors that it engenders among its occupants and visitors. The Fellows represent all six colleges and were selected from a highly qualified a competitive field of students. They are:


  • John Crittenden and Wayne Clough Co-Authors on New National Academy Report

    BBISS Director, John C. Crittenden, and Georgia Tech President Emeritus, G. Wayne Clough, are among a distinguished group of eighteen authors of a new consensus report issued by the National Academy of Engineering. It is titled, “Environmental Engineering for the 21st Century:  Addressing Grand Challenges.” The report lays out five overarching challenges that are hindering the ability for people and ecosystems to thrive. Within each of these challenges the authors discuss how environmental engineers will need to advance knowledge and technology in order to rise to the mounting constraints and challenges. The five grand challenges, which environmental engineers are uniquely positioned to help manage or solve, are:  sustainably supply food, water, and energy; curb climate change and adapt to its impacts; design a future without pollution and waste; create efficient, healthy, resilient cities; and foster informed decisions and actions.


  • Chen to Direct $5 Million Project that will Use Campus Wastewater to Grow Vegetables

    Even if you do your best to eat local, chances are most of the fruits and vegetables you consume come from far away -- especially if you live in a big city. Water and land for growing crops are hard to come by in urban areas. Finding more sustainable methods for growing produce in urban areas would have enormous benefits. A pilot project by Georgia Tech’s Yongsheng Chen, a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, aims to use wastewater from the campus to do just that. 

    “The overarching goal is trying to figure out a way to use wastewater nutrients to grow produce in urban areas so we can decentralize vegetable production,” Chen said. A grant provides $5 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to create and operate a hydroponic growing system using domestic wastewater extracted from the Georgia Tech campus sewer system. It is the largest USDA award Georgia Tech has received.


  • Guensler and Walls Survey Atlanta’s Sidewalks, WABE Radio

    With an inexpensive setup based on a wheelchair and a tablet computer, BBISS Fellow and School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Randall Guensler has helped Atlanta catalog 1,200 miles of sidewalks.

    As residents will tell you, sometimes those paths can be a bumpy, cracked mess. But it’s difficult for cities to keep track. That’s why Guensler and his students have been working for several years on a simple system to help communities assess the condition of their sidewalks.

    Their latest project includes cataloging 200 miles in an Atlanta suburb in Cobb County.


  • Georgia Tech Researchers Among Co-Authors of “Georgia Climate Research Roadmap”

    Three Georgia Tech researchers are members of a transdisciplinary team of experts from across Georgia who have released the "Georgia Climate Research Roadmap." They are Brook Byers Professor Marilyn Brown (Regents Professor, School of Public Policy), Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) Fellow Daniel Matisoff (Associate Professor, School of Public Policy), and former BBISS Fellow Kim Cobb (Georgia Power Chair and ADVANCE Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences).  Also on the team is Jean-Ann James, a Georgia Tech Alum and former BBISS Post-Doctoral Fellow, now with the Turner Foundation.

    The Roadmap is designed to help policymakers, researchers, and citizens to better understand how climate change is likely to unfold in Georgia, and what can be done to address these issues.  It consists of a list of 40 key research questions grouped across themes such as water, coastal Georgia, agriculture, health, and energy.


  • New Brook Byers Professor and Fellows Appointed

    Through a process of peer review and subsequent approval by the Provost, Professor Marc Weissburg has been appointed Georgia Tech’s newest Brook Byers Professor. The Brook Byers Professorship is the highest title bestowed at Georgia Tech for distinguished faculty that are specifically engaged in sustainability related research and education. Concurrent to Weissburg’s appointment, five others were named Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Faculty (BBISS) Fellows.


  • Valerie Thomas Honored with Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award

    Anderson Interface Professor of Natural Systems, Valerie Thomas has been awarded the Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award by the Faculty Honors Committee. The award was established to recognize Georgia Tech faculty who have made significant interdisciplinary contributions to teaching and research. Professor Thomas has been active in a wide variety of research areas including nuclear arms control, energy policy, high-energy physics, environmental sustainability, and technology assessment.  Her collaborations are equally varied, including colleagues from academia, and the public and private sectors. The nature of her collaborations and diverse subject expertise has resulted in research that engages the public and has had meaningful impacts in policy making. The award will be presented at the annual Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon to be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.


  • SURFers Chosen to Design Kendeda Living Building Dashboard

    Ten Georgia Tech undergraduates were selected as the inaugural (2017-2018) class of Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF). As paid researchers, they are reviewing, designing, and developing prototypes for interactive systems that will convey the unique elements and qualities of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design (now under construction) and the behaviors that it engenders among its occupants and visitors. The Fellows represent all six colleges at Georgia Tech and were selected from a group of 88 applicants.


  • Brook Byers Professors Honored

    Elsa Reichmanis has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the American Chemical Society’s National Award in the Chemistry of Materials (sponsored by DuPont).  Marilyn Brown was appointed as a Regents Professor by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, as well as being given a Champion in Energy Efficiency in Industry Award by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

    Elsa Reichmanis is a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  Her work in understanding the molecular structure and function of materials for microelectronics manufacturing has had notable impact on the field.  In 1995, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, as well as becoming an AT&T Bell Laboratories Fellow.  Reichmanis was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997.  In 2003, she served as president of the American Chemical Society.  With the Reichmanis Research Group at Georgia Tech, she explores her research interests in the chemistry, properties, and applications of materials technologies for electronic and photonic applications.


  • BBISS Fellow Bistra Dilkina Co-directs 2017 Data Science for Social Good Fellowship

    Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) (link) is an intensive, paid internship program where students are challenged to solve real-world problems for on-the-ground partners, including local non-profit organizations and the City of Atlanta. The annual student showcase was held at Ponce City Market on July 24th with representatives from the City of Atlanta, local companies, non-profit organizations, and data scientists in attendance. Brook Byers Institute of Sustainable Systems Fellow Bistra Dilkina (link) advised one of the four student teams, with her team conducting two of the five projects in this latest round of the program.

    In the first project, Dilkina’s team of four students partnered with Georgia Tech Facilities Management to determine some useful predictors of energy usage beyond historical energy usage and performance modelling, such as class schedules and climatic variables. The second project Dilkina advised, entitled “Predicting and Alleviating Road Flooding in Senegal,” sought to learn which regions and roadways would be most affected by flooding, and where mitigations would best preserve capacity and access to all parts of the country.


  • Chang to Co-Lead Living Building Pilot Project

    Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems Deputy Director, Michael Chang, will lead an undergraduate research team with Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Undergraduate Coordinator Dana Hartley.  Eight Sustainable Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURFers) will develop an interactive dashboard for the Georgia Tech Living Building.  Real-time data on energy and water usage, indoor health metrics, and other site specific factors, will be formatted for display in an interactive monitoring system.  This prototype is envisioned to interface with the operations, activities, and prevailing conditions with the Living Building as a center of reference.  From there information can be shown as users expand their reference frame outward through the scales of the campus, the city, the region, and the globe.

  • Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute Launches Research Center for Green Buildings and Sponge Cities in Shenzhen, China

    The Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute has launched a new research center to study, and teach about, sustainable urban infrastructure.  The Center for Green Buildings and Sponge Cities will be located in the forthcoming Georgia Tech satellite campus that is being planned in the city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.  The new center, as well as the Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute are elements of a partnership between the Shenzhen Institute of Science and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tianjin University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Professor John Crittenden, Director of Georgia Tech’s Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, has been advocating for the establishment of the center.  He says, “Urban infrastructures are the largest systems in which humans manipulate matter and energy. Accordingly, creating more sustainable infrastructure will have a significant impact on creating a more sustainable future.  China has experienced incredibly rapid infrastructure development, and is likely to continue doing so.  It is heartening to see that China is committing to study a win-win scenario, where urban infrastructure development can create greater wealth and comfort while simultaneously reducing material and energy use.”

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  • Sustainability Spotlight: Dr. John Crittenden

    Interviewed by Joseph Buehler, Student Assistant, Georgia Tech Campus Sustainability.  Republished with permission.

    Since 2009, Dr. Crittenden has led the BBISS at Georgia Tech.  He took a moment to describe some of the Institute's projects:

    "BBISS has worked on problems such as the decentralization of energy and water. In the past our infrastructure was optimized in a silo fashion, where each provider focuses specifically on their product. We look at connecting those and optimizing the system as a whole. An example that we have looked into is a combined heating cooling and power system. Basically it is a device that creates electrical energy and gives off heat. If this is close to where you live, then you can utilize that heat. In terms of water, Atlanta gets about 45 inches of rainwater per year. According to our calculations that could provide 40-50 percent of water demands. Collecting that water for use also reduces the energy impact associated with getting water because it no longer needs to be pumped from a plant to your sink. All of these play into community design which is truly dictated by what the people living there want. For a grant, we are analyzing surveys from the Atlanta Regional Commission to help determine the best way to integrate more sustainable systems into an already large infrastructure system. We have learned that the adoption rate of technologies is higher when the technologies are provided in packages and systems."


    Link to Same Story on Campus Sustainability...

  • BBISS Fellow Dilkina and Post-Doc Lu to Study Decentralized Water and Energy Systems

    In the not-too-distant future, water and energy harvested by individuals, communities and other non-traditional systems – think rain barrels, grey water recycling, solar panels and windmills – may be integrated into centralized municipal networks.

    With these added resources flowing into existing municipal systems, water and energy supplies around the world could become more sustainable, more resilient, and more secure in the face of potential natural disasters and possible security threats.

    However, according to School of Computational Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Bistra Dilkina, getting to a point where this is possible on a broad scale is not going to be easy.


  • BBISS Grad Student to Receive ARCS Scholar Award

    Congratulations to BBISS Graduate Research Assistant Osvaldo Broesicke for receiving a 2016-17 Scholar Award from the Achievement Rewards for Academic Scientists (ARCS) Foundation.  The $7,500 scholarship recognizes outstanding doctoral students who have a record of past achievement and who show exceptional promise of making a significant contribution to the worldwide advancement of science and technology.  Osvaldo, a Ph.D. candidate in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, researches the interconnections between the infrastructure systems of urban areas, what we at the BBISS refer to as Infrastructure Ecology.



  • The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems’ Work in China

    China is urbanizing at an unprecedented level.  Highways, energy grids, water treatment facilities, indeed, entire cities seem to be springing forth from the Chinese landscape.  One of our main topics for research at the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems is what we call Infrastructure Ecology.  It is becoming obvious to many that the way we have been building infrastructure is not sustainable.   At the same time, much of the infrastructure in the developed world is nearing the end of its designed lifespan.  Urbanized lifestyles are not going away, in fact, they are accelerating.  It stands to reason, then, that we need new ways to think about how we build, operate, maintain, and inhabit our cities.


  • Urban Food Systems Workshop Report

    In June 2016, Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute released a report entitled “Urban Food Systems: Workshop Report on the Potential for Growth and Innovation in Commercial Scale Urban Agriculture at the Nexus of Food, Energy, Water, and Transportation Systems.”  Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the report summarizes the findings of two workshops and makes recommendations for funding research within NSF’s new Innovations in Food, Energy, and Water Systems research initiative. 

    More than conventional agriculture, urban agriculture presents the greatest and most immediate opportunity to fully integrate food, energy, and water systems owing to the proximity of human, industrial, water, power, and transportation resources in cities. But while small scale urban agriculture is growing as a practice, progress at the commercial scale is hampered by many technological and knowledge barriers. The workshops surfaced, and the report conveys, 25 research topics that address barriers to commercial scale urban agriculture and the integration of food, energy, and water systems. Included among the 25 are:


  • How to Think About the Largest Things that We Build

    Cities are the largest technological artifacts that we build.  We can see them from space.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, we call the things that we build which can’t be seen with the naked eye “nanotechnology.” But we don’t have a name for the largest things we build other than “cities.”  “City” is useful as a name because we all know what is meant when the word “city” is used even though formal definitions are surprisingly vague and inadequate. We understand a city as a very large permanent human settlement comprised of all the built, natural, human, political, and economic elements within its borders; however, we don’t really understand how the mechanical and technological systems of cities function together.  How can it be that we don’t understand how cities work when we design, build, operate, maintain, and inhabit them?  We are just beginning to explore the answers to this question.  One of the things that we are learning is that it will be useful to distinguish between what we understand as a city, which includes all of the human elements, and the underlying technological artifacts that facilitate the feasibility of cities. Perhaps a better name for humanity’s largest artifacts, such as cities, would be “gigatechnology.”


  • BBISS Fellow, Dilkina is GT Lead in Major Computing Grant

    Assistant Professor and BBISS Fellow, Bistra Dilkina, is the Georgia Tech lead investigator for a $10 million, 5 year National Science Foundation “Expeditions in Computing” grant.  The funds will establish the Computational Sustainability Network, or CompSusNet, with Cornell University as lead institution.  CompSusNet will be comprised of 12 academic institutions, as well as domestic and international, private and non-profit organizations.  Dilkina will also sit on the executive council for the Expedition. 

  • Crittenden Awarded Clarke Prize

    The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) announced that BBISS Director, John C. Crittenden, will be the twenty-second recipient of the NWRI Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research. Consisting of a medallion and $50,000 award, the NWRI Clarke Prize is given each year to recognize research accomplishments that solve real-world water problems and to highlight the importance of the continued funding for water research. Crittenden was selected as the 2015 recipient for his outstanding contributions to treating chemical contaminants in water and his leadership in addressing water demand for transportation, energy production, and domestic use in a holistic, sustainable manner. “I consider the Clarke Prize to be one of the greatest honors that one who conducts water research can receive,” said Crittenden.

  • BBISS Appoints Twelve Fellows

    The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems at Georgia tech has appointed 12 BBISS Fellows.  This diverse group of faculty and researchers come from all six of Georgia Tech’s Colleges as well as the Georgia Tech Research Institute.  The purpose of the Fellows program is to serve as a board of advisors to the BBISS; to foster the culture and community of sustainability researchers, educators, and students at Georgia Tech; and to communicate broadly the vision, mission, values, and objectives of the BBISS.

  • Grant to Study Regional Industry, Economic Resilience and Energy Consumption

    The National Science Foundation has awarded a three year, $300,000 grant to understand how regional economic activities and energy use interact with each other. The effort is led by Georgia Tech School of Economics Assistant Professor Juan Moreno-Cruz with BBISS Director John Crittenden serving as Co-PI. The project is entitled, "Regional Industrial Structure, Economic Resilience and Energy Consumption: Comparative Evaluation, Historical Analysis and Pathway towards a More Sustainable Economy."

  • $1 Million Joint US – China Study on Sustainable Steel Manufacturing

    A multidisciplinary research team from Georgia Tech has been awarded $549,924 (including an extension) over four years to study ways in which steel production in China can be made more sustainable.  The grant is being awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  It is matched with a research grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to a group of Chinese investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and China’s Northeastern University.  The project, entitled “U.S.-China: Systems-Based Approaches for Sustainable Steel Manufacturing,” is led on the U.S. side by Georgia Tech Professors Bert Bras, John Crittenden, and Marc Weissburg.

  • NSF Awards Grant to BBISS Researchers

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $2.5 million grant to an innovative multidisciplinary research project led by BBISS Director, Professor John Crittenden.  The three year project, under the Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems program (RIPS), is designed to develop the theory that infrastructure systems, with their many interdependencies and complex adaptations, have many similarities to ecological systems.  The insights that arise from this grant will be useful in the future development of tools and methods used in the design and evaluation of urban infrastructure systems and their resilience under stresses like climate change, urban growth patterns, and extreme weather events.

  • Student Sustainability Organizations - 2014

    This is our annual feature highlighting Georgia Tech's student sustainability related organizations for the new academic year. Georgia Tech has a strong tradition of student led clubs and organizations.

  • Director Crittenden to be Given Honors in China

    BBISS Director, John Crittenden, will be on a whirlwind tour of China during the first part of June.  His travels will begin at the International Conference on Engineering Science and Technology (ICEST 2014) where the theme will be, "Engineering and the Future of Humankind." The event, which is sponsored by UNESCO, will provide a forum for 1,200 engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and government officials from CAETS member academies and the international engineering community. Professor Crittenden will participate in the first plenary session where he will deliver a talk titled, “Developing Sustainable Infrastructures to Solve Gigaton Problems."

  • Brook Byers Professors Honored

    On March 10th, 2014, The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems hosted an event at the Historic Academy of Medicine to honor three Georgia Tech professors as the inaugural recipients of the title Brook Byers Professor.  Professors Bert Bras, Marilyn Brown, and Elsa Reichmanis were joined by three corporate sustainability leaders and moderator, Diana Rivenburgh as well as Professor John Crittenden in a broad ranging panel discussion.  The three corporate participants were John Gardner from Novelis, Bruce Karas from Coca-Cola, and Steve Leffin from UPS.

  • Brook Byers Professors Appointed

    In January 2014, three distinguished faculty were named Brook Byers Professors:  Bert Bras (Mechanical Engineering), Marilyn Brown (Public Policy), and Elsa Reichmanis (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering). Made possible by a gift from Shawn and Brook Byers, a 1968 Georgia Tech alumnus in Electrical Engineering, the Brook Byers Professorships provide resources to enable and enhance cross-disciplinary, collaborative research and education in sustainability, energy, and water. Recommended by their peers, the three recipients were chosen by the Provost and approved by the Board of Regents. The appointments recognize superior scholarly achievement and the potential for further progress. The Brook Byers Professorship is the highest title bestowed at Georgia Tech for those specifically engaged in sustainability related research and education.

  • Sustainability Quantified: The ‘Gigaton’ Problem

    The anthroposphere (the place where humans live and where human needs are provided for) needs to be recreated to exist within the means of nature. Two important implications can be drawn from this statement: (1) we must use renewable materials that nature provides, and (2) we must not overwhelm natural cycles such that they cease to provide appropriate ecosystem services. The world economy currently uses 70 Gt of materials [1], only 29% of which are renewable (Fig. 1) [2]. Excluding food and fuel from this 70 Gt results in approximately 15Gt of which only 4% is renewable. Human intervention has disrupted nitrogen, phosphorous, water, carbon and other cycles and affected human and ecosystem health through discharges of toxic compounds.

  • Student Sustainability Organizations

    Georgia Tech has a strong tradition of student led clubs and organizations. Sustainability related groups have proven to be no exception in this regard. The list below is a comprehensive picture of the broad range of sustainability related student organizations and volunteer opportunities available. Please help us keep this list current. Contact us with updates, or additions.

  • BBISS Hosts Sustainable Engineering Educators

    College and university engineering educators from around the country convened at Georgia Tech to learn how to integrate sustainability into their engineering curriculum and pedagogy. About 35 participants from a wide spectrum of engineering specialties worked with experts in the field of sustainable engineering and shared their experiences to advance the state of the art in sustainable engineering education.

  • New Open Journal of the Anthropocene

    BBISS Deputy Director, Michael Chang, is a founding editor-in-chief for the new online academic journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.  Elementa is based on an innovative publication model for an academic journal. It is online, open-access, and peer-reviewed. Elementa publishes timely and high quality articles that deal with the interactions between human and natural systems and behaviors. Elementa is a nonprofit initiative of BioOne, Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.

  • VIRTUES of a Workforce for the Next Industrial Revolution

    The Ray C. Anderson Foundation recently awarded a grant to Georgia Tech for a project called VIRTUES (Vertical Integration of Research, and Technical, Undergraduate, and graduate Education for Sustainability).  Headed by Michael Chang, Deputy Director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, and Mary Hallisey-Hunt, Director of Special Projects for the Strategic EnergyInstitute, the leadership team also includes faculty and administrators from Georgia Southern University and the University System of Georgia, and industry partners from across the state.

  • Tsinghua University Students visit BBISS

    Earlier this month, eight students and one faculty member from Tsinghua University’s School of Environment visited Georgia Tech for two weeks as part of a student exchange program. It was funded by a cost sharing collaboration between Tsingua University and the BBISS. The exchange provided a cultural and academic forum for students studying many aspects of sustainable urban systems to learn from each other while gaining a cultural perspective that only international travel can foster.

  • BBISS Researchers Tour Eco-Cities in China

    It would be no surprise to anyone to hear that China is well into a building boom.  The nation is very rapidly urbanizing due to its expanding manufacturing sector.  Large cities are being constructed from scratch where there once was open rural land.  It might surprise some that many of these will be eco-cities, designed and constructed with sustainable design features, materials, and infrastructure systems.  The speed and scale of these projects affords a rich opportunity for research and innovation towards a better understanding of what constitutes an “eco-city” in the real world.


  • St. Patrick’s Day to Earth Day : a Month of Green

    One of the most common ways to get into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day is to wear green clothing, in our case, socks. While expressing one’s green inclinations outwardly with colorful attire should never be discouraged, opportunities abound at Georgia Tech to act on, and internalize that spirit of green. So, perhaps St. Patty’s Day is best seen as a warm-up to a whole month of green themed events culminating with Earth Day. Take a look at all that’s happening at Georgia Tech over the next month.

  • China's Carbon Export

    Among countries, China recently has become the largest emitter of carbon dioxide. This milestone was reached at an astonishingly rapid pace. The drivers of China’s emissions explosion are obvious, but the policies for dealing with it are more complicated than one might assume. International manufacturing and trade has turned China into the world’s factory. This raises the question, “How much of China’s carbon emissions are exported in the form of the manufactured products to be sold in developed countries?” Researchers at the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) at Georgia Tech, the University of Michigan, and Tsinghua University recently published a study that aims to answer this question. One of their findings is that in 2008, 48% of China's carbon emissions were in the form of exported goods.

    Take a look at the abstract for more details: ScienceDirect

    Xu, M.; Li, R.; Crittenden, J. C.; Chen, Y.-S. CO2 emissions embodied in China's exports from 2002 to 2008: a structural decomposition analysis. Energy Policy 2011, 39 (11), 7381-7388, DOI:  10.1016/j.enpol.2011.08.068.

  • A Letter to Entering Freshmen at Georgia Tech, Class of 2015

    For the last 150 years, the United States has been a global leader in technological innovations of all kinds that have increased prosperity, improved health, and provided positive opportunities for all humans throughout the world. For 125 of those years, Georgia Tech graduates have played a significant role in that long run of human progress, and come August, you will join the ranks of engineers, scientists, architects, managers, planners, industrialists, and entrepreneurs that make it all happen. You will come to campus with the expectation that a Georgia Tech education will help you to understand, engage, and prosper in an ever increasingly complex, competitive, and interconnected world. You expect that your undergraduate training will prepare you for the challenges you will meet throughout your professional and personal lives.


  • 100 Sustainability Articles

    The following is a sample of 100 sustainability related publications by investigators at Georgia Tech over the last 5 years (2006-2010) spanning a range of topics including transportation, buildings, energy, environment, metrics, curriculum, decision making, philosophy, climate, natural resources, economics, design, policy, and manufacturing.


  • Winning!

    Urban RePeel, a team consisting of Jared McGrath and Ryan Ravanelle from the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, and Nicole Sullivan from Environmental Engineering, won the 2011 Georgia Tech  Ideas To SERVE competition. In addition, the team also picked up the People’s Choice Award for the poster competition and runner-up in the overall People’s Choice Award. Urban RePeel aims to collect food waste from densely populated urban areas, where food waste rates approach 50%, and transform it into high quality fertilizer with the help of red wriggler worms grown on an industrial scale.  The worms can eat their own weight in food waste every day, and excrete an organic fertilizer that is highly coveted by gardeners as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. This cyclical solution solves several problems at once.


  • How to Earn a Degree in Sustainability at Georgia Tech

    In the latter half of the 1800s, there was no better career advice than to “go West young man.”[1] In the latter half of the 1900s, success was summarized and made famous in one word: “plastics.”[2] And so it is that every generation gets advice on how to succeed, and today there is no higher career calling than one that is “sustainable.” Nations concerned about security, scientists concerned about climate change, corporations concerned about costs, consumers concerned about value, and parents concerned about the world that their children will inherit are all pointing towards a future world painted green. It is no surprise then that the students now on the doorstep of our colleges and universities are wanting to prepare themselves to seize what could be the greatest opportunity since the first Industrial Revolution. At Georgia Tech, many enterprising students have already figured out how to get a degree in sustainability, even if those words are not stamped on their diploma at graduation. For the many more yearning for clearer direction, here is your roadmap.


  • Atlanta: Birthplace of Sustainability?

    Atlanta, Georgia – a proud but generally unassuming city founded in 1837 on the Appalachian Piedmont of the Southeastern United States – has been the backdrop from which the world has been inspired to fundamentally change on two fronts: economic growth and social equity. Interestingly enough, these form two of the three legs of sustainability. So why shouldn’t Atlanta also inspire the third leg: environment? And couldn’t an integrating of these three factors – economy, equity, and environment – serve as the driving force behind the re-envisioning and re-engineering of what is now an unsustainable Atlanta with ripples of reinvention lapping outwards throughout Georgia, the nation, and the planet?