Sustainability and Resilience Thrust Research

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Three areas of emphasis will be physical structures, green infrastructure and people investigated at fundamental and applied levels. The research will be organized into designing and developing strategies for coastal resilience that include: 1) early detection, aiming to identify and provide advanced warning on potential failure points and links; 2) prediction and protection, which reduces the likelihood of destructive occurrences; 3) accommodation, which reduces the impacts of the hazards, and 4) self-heal and retreat, which reduces the exposure to hazards.

Research with National and International Impact: It is recognized that quantum leaps in research impacts necessitate establishments of externally funded centers such as NSF ERCs. We aim to continue efforts for leading or contributing to center proposals in collaboration with other departments and units at UM and externally, leveraging the uniqueness and vulnerability of our Miami location. Current projects with anticipated national/international impacts are described below.

  • NSF I/U CRC titled Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure (CICI) now in Phase III (2019-2024) with PI Nanni and co-PIs de Caso, Rhode-Barbarigos, Ruiz Pestana and Prannoy Suraneni.
  • NSF grant #2101961 with PI Ruiz Pestana and co-PI Suraneni aims to reduce CO2 emissions developing through fundamental, multiscale understanding of the mechanisms that govern the dissolution and reactivity of calcium aluminosilicate glasses, leading to rational design of low-carbon cement substitutes.
  • NCHRP grant on Recommendations for revision of AASHTO M295 standard specification to include marginal and unconventional source coal fly ashes (UM PI Suraneni) aims to improve United States fly ash specifications so they can include a broad range of unconventional fly ashes, resulting in greater beneficial reuse of industrial waste, lower concrete CO2 emissions, and more durable concrete.
  • NSF CAREER Award titled "Bio-Inspired Genetically Engineered Self-Healing for Cementitious Materials" (PI Ghahremaninezhad).
  • NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Award titled "MRI: Acquisition of a High-Resolution X-Ray Micro-Computed Tomography System for multidisciplinary and Integrated Research and Education" (PI Ghahremaninezhad and Co-PI Giancaspro).

Locally Relevant Research: Several interdisciplinary projects in this thrust include educational and research activities engaging undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff in innovative projects to improve the quality of life of the local community.

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  • Applied Research

    Current applied research projects emphasize our relevance in the community, while offering opportunities for the community to serve as a living laboratory for the deployment of innovations and technology emerging from cutting edge research investigations. Examples include:

    • Next Generation Coastal Structures research project with North Bay Village as a living lab.
    • SEAHIVE Shoreline Protection System: Prototype project promoting coastal resilience and ecological health through R&D of novel structural solutions.
    • Artificial Coral Reef structures: Prototype project promoting coastal resilience through R&D of green/gray infrastructure.
    • Investigation of adaptation strategies in affordable housing aiming towards housing resiliency and a more sustainable South Florida.
    • Investigating code, policy adaptations, and permitting guidelines associated with adaptation of new innovations into practice.
    • Application of Virtual Flow Meters for use in water/wastewater utility sector as pilot project in partnership with Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department.
    • Intelligent HVAC system design and control for commercial buildings.
    • Energy feedback controls of HVAC systems to accurately and quickly control power demands to enhance energy resiliency for large commercial facilities, such as university campus, hospitals and military installations, during energy
    • Smart home control systems to optimize the HVAC system operation and diagnose the faults for residential homes to achieve the savings target set by the Department of Energy.
    • Wastewater nutrient recovery from private septic systems in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management.
    • Development of seawater-mixed concrete mixtures, which can result in large savings of freshwater. When combined with fiber reinforced polymer, this material system can be a sustainable and resilient alternative to current marine infrastructure, such as seawalls.
    • Algae-based binder for sustainable construction materials in collaboration with industry partner Oceans Technology Group.
    • Optimal network design transformation for septic tanks in coastal areas in collaboration with local governments.
    • Green transportation infrastructure in collaboration with FedEx.
    • Ensuring that our electrical grid is resilient.

  • Collaborative projects with community partners in response to emerging community needs


    • North Bay Village: Innovative multi-functional seawalls and bay walk systems for community resilience.
    • City of Miami Beach: Coastal resiliency initiatives (including artificial reef deployment) to incorporate anticipated flooding extremes, storm surges and wave action associated with climate change.
    • Miami Dade County: Adaptation of affordable housing.
    • City of Coral Gables: Development of smart energy systems for emergency communication.
    • City of Coral Gables and (Florida Power & Light) FPL: Implementation of resiliency and sustainability measures into the built environment through example senior design projects.

  • Consulting services for interdisciplinary engineering solutions


    • Jose Marti Park revitalization and community resilience project, Miami, FL.
    • Lincoln Beach re-development project, New Orleans, LA.
    • Bahamas Building Code upgrade for Climate Resilient Coastal Management & Infrastructure Program.
    • One Miami Towers – Energy auditing project, Miami, FL.
    • Evergreen Domes Sustainable Residential Development, Broward County, FL.