Researchers from the University of Central Florida are leading an international study to examine how Miami along with Marseille, France, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, handle their urban infrastructure systems in the midst of rapid population growth, climate change and natural disasters.

The researchers want to know whether a suite of community-scale food, water and energy sectors can be effective in terms of resilience and sustainability.

Why this matters.

“As we know, the world has been experiencing the largest wave of urban growth ever, and sustainability has been a big concern across the globe,” UCF engineering Professor and principal investigator Ni-Bin Chang told UCF news.

“Food, water and energy infrastructures are highly interdependent and interconnected, and the failure in one sector could cascade to other sectors and paralyze the whole community. This study will offer a deeper understanding of ways to increase urban sustainability from different perspectives in Europe and North America.”

What this would look like?

Example: After a storm, local communities that generate their own energy from solar panels on their rooftops or through wind towers, could have their energy more quickly restored even if regional power outages linger.

What’s next?

For each city, the researchers will look at the local resources, new technology and methods that could be brought in to improve the community resilience of food, energy and water supplies. The team will then look at the implementation of these technologies to examine their cost, benefits, and risks related to food, water and energy production in each city. The team will be sure to take different socioeconomic conditions, governance structures and cultural contexts into consideration.

“We envision that if the synergy of a suite of community-scale food, water and energy sectors can be proven effective in terms of resilience and sustainability, then in the event of a hurricane or other natural disasters, the community can be back to the normal level much easier and faster,” Chang told UCF news.

Learn more:

Kudos to:

Co-investigators of the project are Md. Uzzal Hossain, Wei Zhang, and Andrea Valencia with UCF’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering; Qipeng P. Zheng and Mengnan Chen with UCF’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Science; Naim Kapucu and Sean Beaudet with UCF’s School of Public Administration; Philip Fairey and Lixing Gu with UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center; Jiangxiao Qiu with the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Zhong-Ren Peng with the University of Florida’s Department of Urban Planning; Chelsea Kaandorp, Edo Abraham, Marie-Claire ten Veldhuis and Nick van de Giesen with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; Bruno Molle, Severine Tomas, Nassim Ait-Mouheb and Deborah Dotta with the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Agriculture and Environment in Montpellier, France; Rémi Declercq, Martin Perrin and Léon Conradi with ECOFILAE in France; and Geoffrey Molle with ECOSEC in France.