Tag Archives: Ramaswami


Study of Wastewater Treatment and Reuse in Urban Ag Receives Press in India

Leslie MiIler-Robbie working in the agricultural plots.
September 12, 2017

The Indian Express newspaper (link below) reports on a study in Hyderabad, India that identifies the linkages between urban agricultural practices, sewage treatment and reuse, carbon emissions and health. Network member Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota), Leslie MiIler-Robbie (University of Colorado, Denver) and Priyanie Amerasinghe (International Water Management Institute) collaborated on this study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters (Link to article). The study finds that sewage treatment along with water reuse in urban agriculture can offer benefits to carbon mitigation and public health, although the public health benefits are less than expected due to farming practices and prior history of sewage-related soil pollution in the region.

Climate change: Untreated sewage major contributor in The New Indian Express

The carbon emission benefits of sewage treatment are large since untreated sewage discharged to rivers converts to methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. Untreated sewage and household waste, along with emissions from burning of petrol and diesel in cars, and coal to provide electricity are among the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in cities.


SRN Researchers Lead UNEP Workshop on Resource Efficient Urbanization at ASEAN 3rd Annual Mayors Forum

August 16, 2017

SRN PI, Professor Anu Ramaswami, alongside staff research associates, Sam Tabory and Ashly (Spevacek) McFarlane, of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy presented at a technical workshop in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) 3rd Annual Mayors Forum in the Philippines, July 24-27. Professor Ramaswami also addressed the larger Forum audience as an invited plenary speaker.

The technical workshop was co-hosted by UNEP, United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific, and the League of Cities Philippines. Participants included elected officials, technical staff, and representatives of regional local government associations.

At the workshop, the research team presented strategies for resource-efficient urbanization and the development of compact, livable cities in Southeast Asia. The team also conducted interviews with mayors and urban development experts from Southeast Asian cities to better understand differences in local sustainability decision-making across the region.

Workshop participants engaged with critical regional urbanization dynamics including the projected growth of small and medium size cities in Southeast Asia. While mega-cities like Jakarta and Manila often monopolize the attention of sustainable development observers, much of the urban population growth that is projected to occur in Southeast Asia between now and 2050 will be in cities with fewer than 500,000 residents.

A key barrier to resource efficient urbanization both in Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, is a lack of coordinated planning across policy areas as well as different levels of government. Workshop participants identified the need to better link policy-making and planning processes across key sectors like economic development, housing, and transportation. Similarly, participants discussed the need for more collaboration and resource sharing both vertically and horizontally across government agencies at national, regional, and local levels.

ASEAN city officials at the Mayors Forum highlighted many examples of ongoing resource-efficient urbanization efforts across the transportation sector, building design, and renewable energy production. However, the workshop highlighted the challenges of best practice sharing across government agencies and local ASEAN governments. National and international resources for city officials, technical staff and other key personnel are available, however, the information is not always distributed effectively to the local level.

Energy, water-use, demographic, lifestyle and other key metrics that can inform city officials about where they are succeeding and where they might need to improve with respect to resource-efficient urbanization are not collected in most ASEAN cities. The benefits associated with collecting these metrics is not always apparent to  city officials, and data collection efforts of this type often require resource investments of both money and staff time, both of which are often constrained in many city governments. The is result is that data collection is often not prioritized by local administrations

The workshop was part of a process to prepare a report written in conjunction with UNEP on urban infrastructure transitions in Southeast Asia. Key findings from the workshop, including barriers to resource-efficient urban development and strategies to address these barriers, will be incorporated in the final report. The report is scheduled for release in late 2017.

The ASEAN Mayors Forum released a video that highlights the discussion during the two day event. It can be viewed here.


Virtual Forum: Transportation Design & Policy for Sustainable Healthy Cities – Part 1

March 09, 2017

Join us Friday for a discussion on: Transportation Design and Policy for Sustainable Healthy Cities, Pt.1: Outcomes from Land Use, Transit, and Bicycling

Led by: Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota)
Discussing: Summary of lessons from previous classes on Energy, transitioning to Transportation, Wedge analysis paper (2:30-3:00)

Jueyu Wang and Greg Lindsey (University of Minnesota)
Discussing: Bikesharing (3:00-3:40

Xinyi Wu & Jason Cao (tent) (University of Minnesota) Discussing: Land Use and Transit (3:45-4:25)

Closing Discussion (4:25-4:30)

Friday March 10, 2:30 to 4:30 PM Central

To view or join the discussion on FridayJoin Here, Access Code: 383-419-437.

These lectures and discussions are part of a course offered by the MSSTEP Program and the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, Infrastructure Transformations for Sustainable Healthy Cities: Design and Policy.


Virtual Panel: Distributed Energy in Cities

February 23, 2017

Join us Friday for a Virtual Panel on: Distributed Energy in Cities

Led by: Dan Zimmerle (Colorado State), Sairaj Dhople (University of Minnesota), Vijay Modi (Columbia University), Mo Li (University of Minnesota), Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota)


Moderated by Frank Douma (University of Minnesota)

Friday February 24, 2:30 to 4:30 PM Central


To view or join the discussion on FridayJoin Here, Access Code: 383-419-437.

These lectures and discussions are part of a course offered by the MSSTEP Program and the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, Infrastructure Transformations for Sustainable Healthy Cities: Design and Policy.


Daniel Zimmerle
Daniel Zimmerle, Colorado State University
Sairaj Dhople
Sairaj Dhople, University of Minnesota
Anu Ramaswami
Anu Ramaswami, University of Minnesota
Vljay Modi
Vljay Modi, Columbia University
Frank Douma, Senior Fellow
Frank Douma, University of Minnesota



Virtual Forum: Kirti Das, Rick Feiock and Anu Ramaswami discuss Wellbeing Studies and Social Actor Theories of Change

February 03, 2017

Kirti Das, Rick Feiock and Anu Ramaswami  will discuss Wellbeing Studies and Social Actor Theories during our network’s spring course Friday, February 3, 2017.

Kirti Das (University of Minnesota) discussing: Early Results from our Network Studies in Delhi and Minneapolis Rick Feiock (Florida State University) & Anu Ramaswami (University of Minnesota) discussing: Scenario Modeling and Theories of Change in Urban Infrastructure Transitions.

These lectures and discussions are part of a course offered by the MSSTEP Program and the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, Infrastructure Transformations for Sustainable Healthy Cities: Design and Policy.

Anu Ramaswami
Kirti Das
Rick Feiock


Fisher and Ramaswami discuss Sustainable Healthy Cities, Urban Design & Disruptive Technologies to launch our network’s Spring 2017 course

January 19, 2017

Join us Friday for a discussion on: Sustainable Healthy Cities, Urban Design & Disruptive Technologies 

Led by: Prof. Thomas Fisher, Director, Minnesota Design Center, University of Minnesota College of Design, discussing: Disruptive Technology and Urban Form 


Prof. Anu Ramaswami, Director, Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, University of Minnesota, on: Meta-Principles for Developing Smart, Sustainable, and Healthy Cities

Followed by an on-line discussion about our urban future, connecting systems thinking, urban design, sustainability and health assessments with disruptive technologies.

Friday January 20, 3:00 to 4:30 PM Central

Participants can view PowerPoint presentations on these topics before the forum by opening the PDFs here and here. (For copies of the narrated PowerPoints, contact srn.cities@gmail.com).

To view or join the discussion on Friday: Join Here, Access Code: 383-419-437.


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.


Director Ramaswami to Chair GRC

Professor Anu Ramaswami, University of Minnesota
July 14, 2016

Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny Jr. Chair Professor of Science Technology and Environmental Policy and the Director of the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, was recently elected Vice Chair of the Industrial Ecology Gordon Research Conference (GRC). She was elected by conference attendees at the recent Industrial Ecology GRC held June 19-24 in Stowe, Vermont.

Held every two years, GRCs are meant to “promote discussions and the free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers of the biological, chemical and physical sciences” with a focus on pre-published research.

As Vice Chair, Dr. Ramaswami will help organize the Industrial Ecology GRC to be held in 2018  alongside Chair Stefanie Hellweg, ETH Zurich. Dr Ramaswami will then assume the role of Chair for the subsequent conference in 2020.


SRN Successfully Presents First Year Progress to NSF

Fallon, Culligan, Russell, and Ramaswami presented first year progress at recent NSF Reverse Site Visit in DC.
July 06, 2016

June 30 and July 1, 2016

Our cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation allows us to present them with our progress annually. PI’s Anu Ramaswami, Trish Culligan, and Ted Russell, and Operations Manager, Tracy Fallon, were in Washington DC last week to share information with NSF staff and other Sustainability Research Networks (SRNs).

Each SRN gave an introduction to their project and presented their progress in the following areas:

  • Education and Outreach
  • Special Topics to Working in a Network
  • The Role of Social Sciences in SRN Research Programs
  • The Role of Natural Sciences in SRN Research Programs
  • The Role of Engineering in SRN Research Programs

The annual meeting concluded with each Network meeting face-to-face with their NSF program officer to receive feedback.  We are happy to report that the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network is on track and received praise for a productive first year!

Fellow SRNs

  • SCRiM (Sustainable Climate Risk Management)
  • AirWaterGas
  • UWIN (Urban Water Innovation Network)
  • UREx (Urban Resilience to Extremes)


Professor Ramaswami Interviewed by John Batchelor Show

June 09, 2016

June 2, 2016

The recently commentary in Science by SRN Professors, Anu Ramaswami, Patricia Culligan, and Ted Russell prompted The John Batchelor Show to interview Ramaswami on what it means to develop smart, sustainable, and healthy cities.

To access the interview, go to AudioBoom.