Ni-Bin Chang, PhD, Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental Engineering, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant entitled: “(ENLARGE) Enabling large-scale adaptive integration of technology hubs to enhance community resilience through decentralized urban food-water-energy nexus decision support.” This award is for 3 years at $750,000 from July 15, 2018, to July 14, 2021. The project is in partnership with the University of Florida and Florida Solar Energy Center in the United States, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and Ecofilae/IRSTEA/ECOSEC in France. The total consortium budget with the match is 1.5 million Euro dollars (equivalent to $2 million) across three countries through the Belmont Forum – Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe and NSF.

Many cities across the globe are facing difficult challenges in managing their food, water, and energy systems. The challenges stem from the fact that the issues of food, water, and energy are often tightly connected with each other, not only locally but also globally. This is known as the Food-Water-Energy (FWE) nexus. An effective solution to a local water problem may cause new local problems with food or energy, or cause new water problems at the global level. On a local scale, it is difficult to anticipate whether solutions to one issue in the nexus are sustainable across food, water, and energy systems, both at the local and the global scale. Innovative solutions that encompass the nexus are particularly important to enable cities to better manage their food, water and energy systems and understand the benefits and tradeoffs for different solutions.

This project aims to generate actionable information by analyzing the distributed production and storage of materials and energy flows into, out of, and within a community/city given their consumption patterns and supply chains associated with various FWE nexuses. This project will develop a multi-scale modeling framework to address the inter-relationship between multiple stressors affecting the food-water-energy nexus in 3 urban environments, Amsterdam, Miami, and Marshall. The models will investigate the impacts of increasing metropolitan populations, rapid land use change, shifting social, economic and governance norms, escalating climate variability, and changing ecosystem services within each of the investigated FWE nexus to elucidate the resultant water, carbon, and ecological footprint for each location. This information should ultimately enable us to understand the trade-offs and balances between various drivers and their impacts on each segment on the nexus which will help to develop scenarios that can optimize the sustainability of the food-water-nexus components for each location. This information will be used to understand the role of key technologies in different types of nexuses associated with different urban planning scenarios affect the final sustainable solution; and how different social networks help evaluate the acceptance of these potential technologies across different cultural contexts. This knowledge can then be used to understand both the physical and social resilience of the location and community to potential scenarios.

Read more at Urban Europe and National Science Foundation sites.