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Strengthening Urban Resilience: Civil Engineering Faculty Collaborates with School of Architecture for Interdisciplinary Research Publication

During and after natural disasters, urban environments usually struggle to meet the food, water and energy demands of their inhabitants. Escalating food insecurities, aging water infrastructure, growing energy demands exacerbate these challenges, casting doubts on current urban planning’s ability to maintain accessibility to these basic necessities when they are needed most.

Esber Andiroglu, an associate professor in practice at the University of Miami College of Engineering’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, has been working on developing engineered solutions for building systems to cope with natural disasters, as well as to cope with the challenges climate change poses.

To do so, Andiroglu has been collaborating with James Brazil, a visiting assistant professor in the University of Miami’s School of Architecture (SoA), and with Shruti Khandelwal, a graduate student in the SoA, to investigate the theory and necessity of integrating an off-grid, self-sufficient building system – or systems – in urban areas to provide reliable access to food, water and energy.

They recently published an article summarizing their research and findings in the 12th series of AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) Proceedings on the issue of Critical Practice in an Age of Complexity. The article is entitled, “Building Integrated Food-Energy-Water Model: The Application of the Food Resilience Urban Infrastructure Tools (F.R.U.I.T.).”

Their publication talks about how the Building Integrated Food-Energy-Water (Bi-FEW) model – an applied combination of specialized data and a set of computational algorithms that assesses the technological, political, economic, real estate and social impacts of urban agriculture – can be implemented into any existing building or urban neighborhood to secure the management of food, energy and water within an off-grid, closed-loop and net-zero system.

“Bi-FEW is important because it allows us to use F.R.U.I.T., which is a research and developmental Artificial Intelligence accelerator and food security incubator,” explains Andiroglu. “Once implemented, the model is in constant operation, balancing fluctuations and supporting gaps in the supply and demand of food, energy and water within the individual building or neighborhood, which is particularly essential during and after natural disasters.”

The publication goes on to recommend innovative land use, building and planning code changes to facilitate the implementation of novel Bi-FEW systems to achieve an urban resilience by securing food, energy and water resources for residents living in the area.

AMPS is an international nonprofit research organization. Its journal, published by UCL Press is titled, “Architecture MPS”. To learn more, please visit the journal’s homepage here.

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