Tag Archives: Newell


Sara Meerow and Joshua Newell’s paper on Defining Urban Resilience wins the 2016 Weddle Prize

June 22, 2017

Congratulations to our SRN members, Sara Meerow and Josh Newell, who have won Landscape & Urban Planning’s third annual Weddle Prize. Their paper examines the definition and usage of urban resilience and proposes an updated definition for the future. The award is given to papers where a student served as lead author and the paper exemplified “rigorous scholarship that aims to achieve environmentally and socially beneficial design or planning of landscapes.”

Sara Meerow, Joshua P. Newell, and Melissa Stults. 2016. Defining urban resilience: A review. Landscape and Urban Planning V 147. The full paper is available here.


Sara Meerow and Josh Newell Publish on Spatial Planning for Green Infrastructure in Detroit

December 16, 2016

SRN student Sara Meerow and faculty member Josh Newell, both at the University of Michigan, developed a Green Infrastructure Spatial Planning (GISP) model to maximize the ecosystem services of green infrastructure. They applied this stakeholder-driven model to Detroit to identify priority areas across the city where multiple environmental, health, wealth, and livability benefits of green infrastructure are needed most, and compared these results with the locations of current projects.

The full article, Spatial planning for multifunctional green infrastructure: Growing resilience in Detroit is published in Landscape and Urban Planning and available here.


SRN Researchers Present at Gordon Research Conference

Nagpure, Fang, Boyer, Tong, and Ramaswami.
July 14, 2016

SRN faculty, students, and post-docs participated in the Industrial Ecology Gordon Research Conference from Jun 18-24, 2016 in Stowe, VT. The theme of the conference was “Opportunities for the Critical Decade – Decoupling Well-Being from Environmental Pressures and Impacts”. Scholars from Minnesota, Georgia Tech, and Michigan presented on the topics listed below:

Professors Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota) and Josh Newell (University of Michigan) presented invited talks on “Urban Infrastructure Systems for Environmentally Sustainable and Healthy Cities” and “The Foundations of Political Industrial Ecology”, respectively.

Ajay Nagpure (Minnesota) presented the poster entitled “Characterizing the Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Open Burning of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Indian Cities”. In this study he discussed new methods for measuring the spatial frequency of open-burning of municipal solid waste and analyzed results of three neighborhoods of varying socioeconomic status (SES) for the Indian megacity of Delhi. He discussed how differences in socio economic conditions in neighborhoods are responsible for variation in MSW burning. According to his study daily mass of MSW-burned was 90−1170 kg/km2-day and 13−1100 kg/km2-day in highest to low SES neighborhoods, in winter and summer, respectively during year 2015.

Andrew Fang (Minnesota) and Raj Lal (Georgia Tech) presented a talk and poster regarding “Assessing Air Quality Co-Benefits of Carbon Mitigation and Urban Efficiency Strategies in Chinese Cities”. The work analyzed the cost-effectiveness of urban policies related to industrial efficiency, building efficiency, waste heat exchange, and transportation in the Jiangsu province based on the health benefits of PM2.5 reduction.

Dana Boyer (Minnesota) presented a poster on how future urban changes may affect food demand and associated energy and water requirements as well as presenting which food system interventions are most effective in mitigating urban impact and reliance on natural resources.

Kangkang Tong (Minnesota) presented work on how Chinese cities’ economic typology influences the scaling relationship between population and urban life parameters. The results indicated that scaling factor between population and GDP, energy and water use in cities are sensitive to economic structure of cities.


SRN Faculty and Students to Present at Food-Energy-Water Nexus Conference in D.C.

January 15, 2016

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) is hosting its 16th annual conference in Washington, D.C. on January 19-21.  This year’s topic is the Food-Energy-Water Nexus.  Participants will fully understand how the three sectors are a system of interdependent components and how to develop solutions based on multi-sector engagement.

Faculty and students from the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network will be presenting the following symposia:

  • January 19th, 1:45 PM – Opportunities for Science at the Nexus – Joshua Newell (University of Michigan) will be a part of a panel that will identify advances in systems science, modelling, decision-support tools, sensors, and data management.
  • January 19th, 1:45 PM – Cities at the Nexus – Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota and SRN Director) will be a part of a panel to introduce how the core needs of food, water, and energy can be, and are being, integrated into sustainable planning of cities and surrounding areas.
  • January 20th, 10:50 AM – The Nexus in Cities: Measuring Impact and Exploring Solutions – Panelists will discuss how urban residents, city planners, and policymakers can shape the sustainability of food, energy, and water demand and supply to cities. The discussion will be moderated by Anu Ramaswami and Patricia Culligan (Columbia University and SRN Co-Director). Panelists will include Joshua Newell and Dana Boyer (University of Minnesota Ph.D. candidate and SRN research assistant).

The Sustainable Healthy Cities Network consists of universities, cities, governments, NGOs, and industry partners, who together will co-develop the science and practical knowledge that enables urban infrastructure transformation toward environmentally sustainable, healthy, and livable cities.  Their focus is on evaluating key knowledge gaps around distributed infrastructure.  A unique feature of the Network is their systematic studying, comparing, and contrasting of social, behavioral, and institutional phenomena across three testbeds/sectors: Energy and Water/Wastewater, Transportation, and Green Infrastructure and Urban Farming.

The National Council for Science and the Environment is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the scientific basis for environmental decision-making.  Their national conference will bring together over 1,200 scientific, educational, business, civil society, and government professionals from diverse fields to explore the connections between science and decision-making associated with a particular high-profile environmental issue. Learn more about the event.


University of Michigan Hosts Workshop to Reshape Urban Food, Energy, and Water Flows

October 19, 2015

Approximately fifty researchers and stakeholders participated in an NSF-funded workshop held in Ann Arbor on October 5-6. Disciplines represented range from geography to engineering to architecture and computer science. The workshop focused on the prospects for ‘scaling-up’ urban agriculture to mitigate food, energy, and water impacts.  Cities have become dominant demand drivers in global food-energy-water (FEW) cycles.

Outcomes from the workshop include a white paper to help guide NSF funding in this area and a journal article. The workshop results will also be used by the SRN in this exciting new research area.

SRN member Joshua Newell, University of Michigan (UM), was the principal investigator and Anu Ramaswami was a Co-PI of this initiative. Other Co-PIs included Glen Daigger (UM, Engineering), Nancy Love (UM, Engineering), and Nathan McClintock (Portland State, Urban Planning).

For more information about the workshop, please contact jpnewell@umich.edu.

For more information about urban sustainability initiative at the UM, see http://urbansustainability.snre.umich.edu/.


U-M Part of New Network to Build Sustainable, Livable Cities

August 11, 2015

The University of Michigan is one of nine research universities in a new international effort, funded by a $12 million award from the National Science Foundation, to build better cities of the future.

The University of Minnesota-led project brings together scientists, industry leaders and policy partners committed to creating cities that are highly functional, that promote the health of residents and the environment, and that have that intangible vibe, called livability, that makes cities desirable places to live and work.

The new project, funded by NSF’s Sustainability Research Network, will focus on ways to reimagine the energy grids, road networks, green spaces, and food and water systems that form the urban infrastructure. Emerging trends suggest that cities may be better off building more local systems; this movement toward “distributed” infrastructure is gaining momentum globally.

“We have to think in new ways about a city’s physical infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions,” said Anu Ramaswami of the University of Minnesota, the project’s lead investigator and director. “Understanding that these systems are interconnected serves as a foundation for this work.”

The U-M portion is roughly $750,000 over four years and involves green infrastructure, urban farming — including a Detroit aquaculture project to raise freshwater shrimp — and the investigation of innovative techniques to recover energy and water from wastes.

The principal investigator of the Michigan portion is geographer Joshua Newell, assistant professor of natural resources and environment. The co-principal investigator is Lutgarde Raskin, Altarum/ERIM Russell D. O’Neal Professor of Engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Green infrastructure includes stormwater management projects such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales and tree-lined streets, as well as the greenways, parks, urban farms and protected river basins that weave through a city’s environs. Urban green infrastructure projects benefit natural ecosystems, increase local property values and have other social, economic, health and psychological benefits.

But such projects tend to be driven by stormwater management goals, with few studies examining tradeoffs and potential synergies between a suite of benefits, said Newell.

“We need to consider how these green-infrastructure interventions affect a city’s environmental and social-justice fabric. Are they being placed in communities and neighborhoods that may be especially vulnerable to climate change or that suffer from park poverty?” Newell said. “We need to do a much better job at identifying hotspots in the urban landscape that offer the potential to maximize benefits for the many, rather than the few.”

Michigan researchers and their partners will identify optimal sites — called hotspots — for future green infrastructure and urban agriculture development. To find the hotspots, they will create a  “spatial planning model” that integrates key ecological and socioeconomic indicators, including flooding, social vulnerability, park access, air pollution, urban heat islands and green-space connectivity.

The model will be refined using data collected during case studies in Detroit, New York City and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Raskin’s team will use the hotspots identified by Newell to select locations suitable for the development of community-scale waste treatment systems that recover water and energy from a variety of sources.

A technology called an anaerobic membrane bioreactor will recover energy in the form of methane gas from household wastewater, food waste, garden waste and urban food-production waste. Effluent produced by the bioreactor can be used directly as irrigation water or treated further to produce drinking water.

“The feasibility of using an anaerobic membrane bioreactor in conjunction with urban food production in Detroit will be examined,” Raskin said. “This urban test bed will include a recirculating shrimp aquaculture system focused on the distributed production of freshwater shrimp.”

Partners in the U-M portion of the project include Detroit Future City, the Southeast Council of Michigan Governments, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the University of Minnesota, and the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

Michigan faculty collaborators include Steven Skerlos, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and professor of mechanical engineering, and environmental engineering, and Jim Diana, professor of natural resources and director of the Michigan Sea Grant. Several U-M graduate students and postdoctoral researchers also will be involved.

The $12 million, NSF-funded Sustainability Research Network project is titled “SRN: Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities.” The network will connect research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, infrastructure firms and policy groups.

In addition to Michigan, Minnesota and Columbia, the university partners are Georgia Tech, Colorado State, Florida State, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, Ohio State and Texas.

The project includes 25 faculty members from the nine universities and will involve more than 40 graduate students conducting research in cross-university interdisciplinary teams.

By 2050, it is estimated that 3 billion additional people will inhabit cities worldwide, meaning that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Most of the infrastructure needed to accommodate that growth has yet to be built or will need to be rehabilitated from existing systems.

The NSF-funded researchers will try to identify the optimal infrastructure mix by examining local and large projects in diverse cities in the U.S. and India. In addition, they will explore the public attitudes and policies that can help achieve the desired urban transitions.

The work is organized into three themes. Theme 1 will develop science-based methods to track the environmental sustainability, health and livability of cities. Theme 2 will identify the innovations needed in infrastructure design and social institutions to advance environment, health and livability outcomes in cities.

In Theme 3, researchers will use knowledge gained in Themes 1 and 2 to model various policy and technology scenarios in diverse world cities. They will examine small, fast-growing cities like Fort Collins, Colo.; shrinking cities like Detroit; stable cities with aging infrastructure like New York City and Minneapolis-St. Paul; and emerging Indian cities that hope to leapfrog into next-generation infrastructure systems.

– Kent Love-Ramirez, University of Minnesota
– Jim Erickson, University of Michigan News Service

This article was originally posted by the University of Michigan.