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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.
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.