Steve Swant is not a green vigilante. He doesn’t drive an electric vehicle. He sometimes uses plastic bags at the grocery store. But as executive vice president of Administration and Finance at Georgia Tech, he’s doing what he can to make sure Tech is a sustainable operation.
“It’s my passion and my team’s passion,” said Swant, who has a background in architecture and urban planning. Swant’s been at Tech since 1996 and, in his nearly 20 years on campus, he has watched the campus get better and smarter about its sustainability practices.
Engineering News-Record (ENR), a leading construction information source, recently named him one of its 2014 Top 25 Newsmakers for innovations and achievements in the construction industry. ENR selected Swant because of his dedication to sustainability, which he believes should be embedded in everything on campus.
“It’s not about doing the ‘green’ thing, but the right thing for the campus,” he said. “It’s about making sure Georgia Tech continues to exist.”
Even before writing his master’s thesis at the University of California, Los Angeles, on how to get people to take ownership of sustainable practices, Swant has been interested in integrating sustainability into business. Earlier in his career, he planned courthouses, jails and New York City office towers. In his current position, he oversees a varied portfolio that includes capital planning and space management, housing, dining, landscaping, facilities, parking and transportation, information technology, human resources, legal affairs, and other campus services. He aims to “put meaning behind the effort” by organizing and optimizing these areas around campus. Though he pushes a certain sustainable agenda in his business rationale, it’s not a hard sell at Tech.
“I’m fortunate that people here are passionate about it,” he said.
That’s not just true for campus. In the Atlanta community, Swant fosters a partnership with the Midtown Alliance, where he sits on the organization’s executive board. He’s found the local construction community is also supportive of Tech’s goal of cultivating a sustainable enterprise.
“More and more firms are finding it’s just good business,” he said. “We have a lot of great firms in the city that share the agenda, and when they bid on projects, they make the case that they can do it the way we need it done.”
Tech has a special way of building on its campus, outlined in the Georgia Tech Yellow Book, a homegrown document of nearly 500 pages outlining Tech’s design standards.
At times construction may seem an ever-present element of campus. While it can be the cause of temporary inconvenience, it leads to award-winning facilities and campus grounds. In the past five years, Tech has been honored repeatedly by the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, Tree Campus USA, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, and Sierra Magazine for its campus amenities. Specific to buildings, the Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory, Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, and North Avenue Apartments have all been the subject of positive external attention for their leading-edge design and renovations. The recognition is nice, but it’s not the focus of Swant’s attention.
“I like to think we’d do the same thing without the incentive of awards,” he said. “The return on investment is worth it in these facilities. The key is being smart about using the available technology.”
Technology employed in a new HVAC system for the Sustainable Education Building will save an estimated 10 percent in annual utilities, or $15,000 per year. An air optimization project at the Global Learning Center is projected to save $88,000 annually. At the Economic Development Building, a ventilation project currently in progress is estimated to reduce energy usage by 28 percent and save $64,000 per year.
Swant thought he might spend five to seven years at Tech, but 18 years later, he’s still here and still excited about the future of campus. The under-construction Engineered Biosystems Building, which will house technologically advanced biological laboratories and research space, is the beginning of a multi-building, multi-phase ecologically-focused district of the campus that will include two additional buildings and an ecocommons. The area will provide green space and reduce stormwater runoff.
Howard Wertheimer, director of Capital Planning and Space Management, has set an ambitious goal of using no potable water for irrigation on campus within five years. Wertheimer, whose department reports to Swant, is grateful to have an advocate and colleague who also believes sustainability should be inherent in Tech’s built environment.
“Steve sees the return on investment outside the spreadsheet,” Wertheimer said. “He looks through a broad lens at long-term investment.”
Aside from the progress being made at the Engineered Biosystems Building, Swant looks forward to the continued integration of Tech into Midtown around Tech Square, as well as revitalizing historical buildings at the core of campus and building a strategy for an enhanced Student Center.
“We want to inspire more innovation and integration, and provide the right amenities and connections between the university and the community,” he said.
Steve Swant, executive vice president for Administration and Finance, demonstrates leadership by combining his passion for sustainability with the relentless pursuit of a lean bottom line.]]>
Transportation infrastructure concerns rank as one of the top issues in Georgia and the Southeast. The designation of the Georgia Institute of Technology as the lead for one of 10 national Tier One University Transportation Centers (UTC) by the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) represents a positive step toward developing solutions to transportation challenges facing the state and region.
Funded by a $3.5 million federal grant and an additional $3.5 million in matching funds from various state transportation departments, the Woodruff Foundation and others for the first two years, the UTC will bring together a consortium of universities in Georgia, Florida and Alabama including the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, Southern Polytechnic State University, Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida International University and University of Central Florida. Known as the National Center for Transportation System Productivity and Management, the Georgia Tech UTC will focus on transportation issues of importance to the nation, state and metropolitan areas.
In a related program, Georgia Tech has also been named as a collaborator in the US DOT’s Regional UTC led by the University of Florida. The University of Florida and Georgia Tech will be joined by Auburn University, Florida International University, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Mississippi State University to form a regional consortium that will focus on transportation issues impacting the Southeast. Georgia DOT will also provide some matching funds for this effort.
“Georgia Tech is uniquely qualified to lead the University Transportation Center. It is home to one of the largest and most accomplished transportation and logistics research programs in the U.S. and is responsible for many of the strategic improvements that have been made to Georgia’s infrastructure,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I applaud the efforts of all of those who were involved in this important project.”
According to Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the UTC designation provides national recognition of Georgia Tech’s capabilities and expertise in contributing to transportation solutions for the nation, state and metropolitan area.
“We are pleased to take a leading role in working with our industry, government and university partners to devise solutions for our state and regional transportation challenges,” he said. “I want to thank the US Department of Transportation, Governor Deal, Georgia Department of Transportation, Woodruff Foundation and the Georgia congressional delegation for their support of this important work."
Funding from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation supported the initial proposal led by a team from Georgia Tech including Michael Meyer, director of the Georgia Transportation Institute and Civil Engineering professor; Catherine Ross, director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development; and Ken Stewart, senior advisor for industry. An advisory board including industry, government and university representatives from throughout Georgia, Florida and Alabama also provided direction for the grant submission and will continue to provide advice and counsel to the UTC.
Additional funding for the UTC will come from the Georgia DOT, the Woodruff Foundation and university partners. Future support will come through government, private and corporate resources.
The purpose of the UTC is to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through research, education and technology transfer as well as provide a critical transportation knowledge base outside the US DOT and address vital workforce needs for the next generation of transportation leaders.]]>
The designation of Georgia Tech as the lead for one of 10 national Tier One University Transportation Centers by the U.S. Department of Transportation represents a positive step toward developing solutions to transportation challenges facing the state and region.]]>
Lisa Grovenstein, 404-894-8835]]>
Nancy Galewski, who holds dual master's degrees from Georgia Tech in Public Policy and City and Regional Planning, has been awarded a 2011 Fulbright Scholarship.
Galewski won the prestigious grant for her research proposal for developing community participation in urban service provisions in communities in Bolivia and Peru. She chose the cities of Cochabamba, Bolivia and Arequipa, Peru because both cities face similar difficulties with waste, water, and energy management, and both cities have dealt with anti-privatization demonstrations of basic urban services. Galewski will spend three months in Bolivia and seven months in Peru.
A native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Galewski earned her bachelor's degree in International Development and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She currently works as a research associate at the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).]]>
Rebecca Keane - 404-894-1720]]>
Georgia Tech’s move eastward across I-75 into Midtown has shown how dramatically we can impact the health of Atlanta neighborhoods. A new strategic initiative focused on the distressed neighborhoods on the west side of campus intends to find solutions from a different direction.
The Georgia Tech Westside Task Force, comprised of individuals from across campus, and the Westside Communities Alliance which includes external partners, are bringing new life to the Institute’s engagement with surrounding neighborhoods including English Avenue, Home Park, Vine City, and Centennial Park.
Led by the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and the College of Architecture, and under the umbrella of The Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy Project, these initiatives have been underway for the past year. They were introduced to a larger campus audience February 14 at the “Bridges Symposium: Creating New Links Between the City of Atlanta and Georgia Tech.”
“The Westside initiatives are important steps in Georgia Tech’s strategic initiatives linking our research, knowledge generation, and education to community action,” said Jacqueline J. Royster, Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. “We are bringing coherence and energy to the Institute’s engagement with these neighborhoods. The problems here are different, so the processes won’t look the same and the solutions won’t be the same, but we expect the impact to be comparable.”
The Bridges Symposium brought together members of the GT Westside Task Force and Alliance members from the Westside communities, the City of Atlanta government, police, fire department, and school entities, NGOs, and Atlanta academic institutions. This diverse group of attendees reflected the initiative’s growing network of symbiotic relationships and provided an opportunity to share perspectives on what the Institute can and should do as a partner in revitalizing the Westside neighborhoods and creating a holistic Westside community.
Keynote speaker Ira Harkavy provided a roadmap for universities as engaged community citizens. He described University of Pennsylvania’s twenty year effort to address poverty, healthcare, and crime in the West Philadelphia neighborhood that surrounds it, and to differentiate Penn by institutionalizing civic engagement as part of its intellectual and academic mission.
“Creating democratic, mutually beneficial, mutually respectful partnerships is not rocket science,” said Harkavy. “It is harder.”
Harkavy, who is a noted expert on university/community relationships and the founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, emphasized that Penn’s civic engagement mission could not be sustained without the Netter Center.
While Georgia Tech does not have such a center, College of Architecture Dean Alan Balfour emphasized the commitment behind the Georgia Tech Westside initiatives.
"The problems facing English Avenue are not unique, they can be found in so many American cities and the residents of such neighborhoods too often lack the experience in terms of planning, architecture and the social sciences to be able to address them,” said Balfour. “Therefore it is the obligation of public institutions such as Georgia Tech not only to offer their expertise, but also to help put in place a system of self-support and, in cooperation with the middle and high schools, attract local young people to careers in the appropriate professions.”
The Symposium highlighted existing efforts by Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students to integrate service to the city into their research, teaching, and learning and how the Georgia Tech Westside Task Force and the Westside Community Alliance are coalescing those efforts. It reinforced the importance of leveraging current momentum and channeling the Institute’s efforts into a coherent and strategic model in order to experience the benefits that many of our competitor institutions who have moved in this direction are already realizing in a more robust way.
Some key ideas brought forward during the symposium included:
Steven C. Swant, head of administration and finance who attended the symposium remarked, “We need to create an environment where we remove the obstacles and create incentives for faculty, students and staff to work with the community all around us.”
Hosted by Deans Royster and Balfour, the symposium was organized and moderated by Harley F. Etienne, professor in the Schools of City and Regional Planning & Public Policy. Panelists included Kamau Bobb, CEISMIC, Regents of the University System of Georgia, and Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts; Emma Bones, Executive Chair, Community Service Council; Chris Burke, Director of Community Relations, Office of Government and Community Relations; T. Hugh Crawford, Associate Professor, Literature, Culture and Communication; Gregory Nobles, Director and Professor, Honors Program, History, Technology and Society; Charles Rudolph, Associate Professor, School of Architecture; Ellen Zegura, Professor, School of Computer Science; Kenneth Knoespel, School of Literature, Culture and Communication, Discussant.
Picture in the Photograph (l-r): Harley Etienne, Dean Balfour, Ira Harkavy, Dean Royster]]>
Georgia Tech’s move eastward across I-75 into Midtown has shown how dramatically we can impact the health of Atlanta neighborhoods. A new strategic initiative focused on the distressed neighborhoods on the west side of campus intends to find solutions from a different direction.]]>
If a repeat of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake were to occur, and the Port of Oakland were so severely damaged that it took as long as two years to resume full operations, what would be the impact on the U.S. economy?
U.S. ports serve as crucial gateways for international trade, but they're particularly vulnerable to damage in an earthquake. Western U.S. ports in Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Seattle are at the greatest risk for earthquake damage, but eastern U.S. ports in Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., are also at risk.
A new project led by the Georgia Institute of Technology aims to develop strategies to help safeguard ports from earthquake damage. The project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has $3.6 million in funding over the next five years.
"Ports are a critical civil infrastructure system," said Glenn J. Rix, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the project director. "Given the growth in international trade, we don't think seismic risks at ports have received the proper amount of attention. If a large portion of a major U.S. port such as Oakland or Los Angeles were out of service for a year because of an earthquake, there would be significant economic consequences for the United States."
In 1995, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck in Kobe, Japan, causing extensive damage to both the city and its port, the sixth largest in the world at the time. The port required $8.6 billion and two years to repair. By 2003, the Port of Kobe had fallen to 32nd largest in the world and will likely never recover the lost business.
Ports are particularly vulnerable to damage during earthquakes because wharves are often built on unstable ground that is prone to liquefaction - a process that causes soil to lose its strength as a result of ground shaking. The large cranes used to load and unload containers from ships are also susceptible to damage from ground shaking and deformation.
The project's goal is to help port authorities and other stakeholders manage seismic risk more effectively.
"Modern ports are large, complex systems," said Rix. "Our project team includes researchers and practitioners with expertise in civil engineering, logistics, risk analysis, and social science to address seismic risk issues in every aspect of the system."
A key part of the project is to evaluate methods of preventing damage to wharves and cranes using large-scale tests. The team will perform these tests at four labs that are a part of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a program initiated by NSF to advance the field of earthquake engineering with a shared network of experimental sites and tools, an archive of earthquake data and earthquake engineering simulation software.
The team will also investigate applying the same approach to managing risks from other natural hazards, including hurricanes.
"We learned an important lesson from the experience of Gulf Coast ports following Hurricane Katrina," Rix said. "The physical damage was minor compared to the impact of the displaced labor force on port operations, which emphasized the need to examine the entire port system."
The project team, led by Georgia Tech, includes experts from the University of California, Davis; Decision Research Inc.; Drexel University; University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Seismic Systems & Engineering Consultants Inc.; University of Southern California; University of Texas at Austin; and University of Washington.]]>
Students from Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning are offering their expertise this semester by working with Atlanta area communities to develop a long-term plan for their neighborhoods.
Professor Nancey Green Leigh and her class of graduate students are partnering with Georgia Conservancy and community leaders of Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) G located on the west side of Atlanta close to the intersection of Interstate 285 and Hollowell Parkway to improve the area.
“The neighborhood has many challenges,” said Leigh. “It is one of Atlanta’s neighborhoods with the least amount of development, most neglected green space and greatest socio-economic challenges. The major source of employment and business in NPU-G is the Atlanta Industrial Park, which is separated from the rest of the community by I-285. The neighborhood once housed four public housing projects, all of which have been demolished, but only one of which has been redeveloped.”
While the hilly, virtually rural terrain throughout the neighborhood gives way to some beautiful views of the city, the community has a closed landfill that poses environmental challenges and limits development opportunities for its surroundings.
Georgia Tech students met with community members, leaders and elected officials to develop a comprehensive analysis of the area and learn more about the neighborhood’s history.
“We were really pleased to hear what the community saw as its needs,” said Erin Rosintoski, a graduate student working on her master’s degree in City Planning with a specialization in land use and urban design. “Many of the items that they brought to our attention verified what our research had told us.”
“It is a food desert,” said Leigh. “There is no access within the neighborhood to a quality grocery store that would provide a range of produce options. The neighborhood also lacks pharmacies, healthcare options and banking.”
The neighborhood does have some significant natural resources and a history of community that can serve as foundations for redevelopment planning.
“The residential portion of the community borders the Chattahoochee River and it has Proctor Creek running through it,” said Leigh. “The neighborhood has proximity to the Beltline, and these amenities could help bring new life to the area.”
“The older residents who had lived there for 30, 40 and even 50 years told us how prosperous this neighborhood had once been,” said Rosintoski. “They spoke about the dairy farms that used to cover the area and how there was a tremendous sense of community. It was interesting to hear how the roots of the neighborhood started.”
For these young city and regional planners, their semester-long project will culminate with the seeds of how to repair and grow the community going forward.
The industrial park and the former housing project sites have the potential to provide significant new development and job creation. According to Leigh, the next step is to suggest to the city of Atlanta how it can make this industrial land stronger and to suggest to the Atlanta Housing Authority ideas for three different mixed-use developments on the former housing sites.
“The level of poverty surrounding Atlanta’s industrial areas is much higher than the rest of the city,” she said. “These areas have jobs and could have more jobs. You want to link those possibilities with the neighborhood. One of our primary goals is to increase the connections that this community has with Atlanta.”
The students will unveil the complete list of recommendations on December 15, but they have some other ideas of how to help. They also plan to suggest making additional recreational areas, create community gardens and address some of the transportation issues by creating a better design for the flow of traffic in and out of the neighborhood.
“We are trying to create a better understanding of the community’s challenges and innovative approaches to those challenges,” said Leigh. “We provide students with a strong city and regional planning education and the ability to apply their skill sets to a community challenge, but as an educator at a major research Institute, I also want to push the field further. This project has presented some excellent possibilities for doing that.”]]>
Students from Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning are offering their expertise this semester by working with Atlanta area communities to develop a long-term plan for their neighborhoods.]]>
Georgia Tech Media Relations
The number of very hot days is increasing worldwide, but the rate of increase is more than double in the most sprawling metropolitan regions compared with more compact cities, according to a team of Atlanta-based scientists. This was true regardless of the urban regions’ climate zone, population size or rate of growth.
The study examined the number of very hot days in 53 U.S. metropolitan regions between 1956 and 2005. The annual number of very hot days increased by 14.8 days on average in the regions with the most sprawl and by 5.6 days in the least sprawling cities. A metropolitan region, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, may include many counties surrounding the city. The Atlanta metropolitan region, for example, has 20 counties.
“These findings show that the pace of climate change is greater in sprawling cities than in others, which has not been shown before,” says lead author and urban planner Brian Stone of the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Because severe heat kills more people on average per year than any other type of dangerous weather, residents of sprawling cities may be more vulnerable to this significant health threat posed by climate change.”
Sprawl and land-use regulations appear to influence the frequency of very hot days through their effect on a city’s trees and other vegetation. The team found that between 1992 and 2001, the rate of deforestation in the most sprawling metropolitan regions was more than double that of compact regions. Other studies have shown that the loss of vegetative cover is one of the main reasons that cities become much hotter than surrounding areas.
Extremely hot days were identified using a city-specific heat stress index that the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) developed for 187 U.S. cities. The NCDC calculated the average apparent temperatures, which include temperature and humidity, for those cities between 1961 and 1990. Very hot temperatures are defined as those above the 85th percentile, with the 100th percentile being the highest temperature reached during the study period for that city. Temperatures above the 85th percentile are associated with more heat-related deaths, other studies show.
To compare cities’ development patterns, the researchers used a widely published metric developed in 2003. Called the sprawl index, it incorporates land-use data from the 2000 census to quantify factors such as population density, the proximity of commercial and residential buildings, and street network patterns. The researchers categorized a region as one of the most sprawling if it was in the top 25 percent of the index and as one of the least sprawling if it was in the bottom 25 percent.
Examples of sprawling metropolitan regions include Atlanta, Tampa and Grand Rapids, whereas Chicago, Boston and Baltimore are more compact. “Factors that affect whether an area remains compact include, among others, local land-use regulations and the timing of a city’s growth,” Stone says. “Boston grew when streetcars were popular, and Atlanta developed during the era of the automobile.”
The study is published online June 23 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Other authors of the study are Jeremy Hess, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and Howard Frumkin, National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The full article, “Urban Form and Extreme Heat Events: Are Sprawling Cities More Vulnerable to Climate Change than Compact Cities?”, is available online at http://ehponline.org/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.0901879.
The number of very hot days is increasing worldwide, but the rate of increase is more than double in the most sprawling metropolitan regions compared with more compact cities, according to a team of Atlanta-based scientists. This was true regardless of the urban regions’ climate zone, population size or rate of growth.]]>
Georgia Tech Media Relations
Georgia Tech has announced the creation of the School of City and Regional Planning with responsibilities including a Master of City and Regional Planning degree program, a Ph.D. concentration in City and Regional Planning, and research aimed at advancing the practice of urban planning in Georgia, the U.S. and across the globe.
The School of City and Regional Planning replaces the City and Regional Planning Program, continuing Tech's work in support of the urban planning profession begun in 1952 when Howard Menhinick came to the Institute from the Tennessee Valley Authority to found the Graduate City Planning Program. In the years since, the Institute has awarded more than 1,100 graduate degrees in the field and now has planning alumni practicing in forty five states and twenty five countries. Nine alumni (and five current faculty) have been inducted as Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Seven degree program specializations are offered: Economic Development, Environmental Planning, Geographic Information Systems, Land and Community Development, Land Use, Transportation Planning, and Urban Design. Dual degrees and certificates are offered in conjunction with Tech's schools of Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Public Policy and with Georgia State University in historic preservation, law and real estate.
Georgia Tech's Center for Geographic Information Systems and Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development support the School's mission with interdisciplinary research. These Centers together with School faculty annually conduct in excess of $2.5 million of sponsored research for government, industry and third sector clients. GIS Center Director Steven P. French, FAICP, and Quality Growth Center Director Catherine Ross join School Chair Bruce Stiftel, FAICP, and PhD Program Director Michael Elliott as leaders of the forty teaching and research faculty.
The School's Strategic Plan anticipates two new master's degree programs, in Urban Design and in Geographic Information Systems; launch of a named PhD degree in City and Regional Planning; expansion of international focus and linkages; and leadership in designing sustainable cities of the 21st Century. In 2010, the School will host the annual PhD Workshop of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and together with Sun Yet-Sen University, will organize the ninth annual conference of the International Urban Planning and Environment Association in Guangzhou City, China.
"The timing is auspicious and I am convinced the creation of the School of City and Regional Planning supports our ambitions to clarify and strengthen the character of the College," said College of Architecture Dean Alan Balfour. "It matches the scale and reputation of the discipline and solidifies its identity within the designed and built environment professions."]]>
College of Architecture
Contact Teri Nagel
A Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning study on climate change, published February 10, 2009 online by Environmental Science and Technology, shows that "smart growth" combined with the use of hybrid vehicle technology could reduce cities' carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - the principal driver of global warming - significantly by 2050.
According to Brian Stone, associate professor of City and Regional Planning, the research shows that expected levels of CO2 emissions from cars and trucks in 2050 could be reduced back to 2000 levels if the full vehicle fleet was converted to hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius or the soon-to-be released Chevy Volt. This research also found that a doubling of population density in large U.S. cities by 2050 would have a greater impact on CO2 reductions than full hybridization of the vehicle fleet.
Stone's study looked at 11 major metropolitan regions of the Midwestern U.S. over a 50-year period and took into account three different scenarios: the use of hybrid vehicles and two different urban growth scenarios through which population density was increased over time, a central component of smart growth planning.
"In this study we looked at two general approaches on how to deal with the challenge of climate change," said Stone. "One approach is to improve vehicle technology and become more efficient. We can use less gas and reduce tailpipe emissions of CO2. The second approach is to change behavior by changing the way we design cities. We can travel less and take more walking and transit trips."
Stone says he believes it would be possible for virtually all cars on the roads by 2050 to be hybrid electric vehicles, assuming the costs of these vehicles become more competitive with conventional engine technologies. Today's hybrid electric vehicles can achieve 40 miles to the gallon and higher.
However, even the full hybridization of the national vehicle fleet by 2050 would not meet the CO2 targets identified though the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change agreement which the United States has signed but not yet ratified. To meet these global targets, CO2 emissions from all sectors on the U.S. would need to return to 1990 levels or lower. According to Stone's work, meeting this goal in the transportation sector would require a combination of technological improvements and higher density land use patterns in cities.
"If we can help cities to grow in more compact ways, what we call smart growth, it will help reduce emissions even further by allowing people to travel less often, travel shorter distances when they do travel and take advantage of public transit," said Stone.
The eleven metropolitan regions that were studied include Madison, Wisconsin, Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan and Dayton, OH. In addition to Stone, Dr. Tracey Holloway, Scot Spak, and Adam Mednick also authored the study.]]>
A Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning study on climate change, published February 10, 2009 online by Environmental Science and Technology, shows that]]>
Georgia Tech Media Relations
Research underway at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) could enable fixed-wing jet aircraft to take off and land at steep angles on short runways, while also reducing engine noise heard on the ground.
Airplanes of this type -- called cruise-efficient, short take-off and landing (CESTOL) aircraft -- could use runways at much smaller airports, allowing expansion of commercial jet service to many more locations.
Enabling commercial jets to take off and land in ever-shorter distances is an ongoing goal for aircraft designers, and several approaches are under development. GTRI's research could result in a CESTOL aircraft comparable to a Boeing 737 in size, with a similar ability to carry 100 passengers at up to 600 miles per hour.
"To take off or land on a short runway, an aircraft needs to be able to fly very slowly near the runway," said Robert J. Englar, a principal research engineer who is leading the GTRI effort. "The problem is that flying slowly decreases the lift available for taking off and landing. What's needed is a powered-lift approach that combines low air speed with the increased lift capability required for successful CESTOL operation."
The work is part of the NASA Hybrid Wing-Body Low-Noise ESTOL Program. This four-year program, funded by NASA and led by California Polytechnic State University, includes GTRI and several other team members. GTRI's current work involves leadership of the aerodynamic and acoustic design for the program, along with development of large-scale models that will be used for wind-tunnel testing at government facilities.
At the heart of GTRI's powered-lift design is circulation control wing -- also known as blown-wing -- technology. In this type of system, high-speed jets of air are directed over the upper surface of the wings during take-off and landing, creating an unprecedented lift capability.
"Our design has to incorporate several trade-offs, yet the entire wing-engine powered-lift system has to perform all of its functions well," said Englar, who leads the aerodynamics portion of GTRI's work.
Specifically, he said, the new design must:
• Generate a high degree of lift on take-off and landing to allow short ground rolls and steep climb-out or approach flight angles;
• Yield lower drag at cruising speeds to achieve good fuel efficiency;
• Simplify the wing and downsize it for more-efficient cruise performance;
• Produce noise levels that are lower than a conventional passenger jet;
• Be less complex overall than conventional designs.
To satisfy those requirements, the GTRI team placed turbo-fan engines above the wing of the conceptual CESTOL aircraft, rather than below the wing as on most commercial aircraft, explained Rick Gaeta, a former GTRI senior research engineer who had led the acoustic portion of the research.
Over-the-wing placement is a key design element because it enables very high lift while still providing the engine thrust necessary for take-off and high-speed level flight. It also offers important reduced-noise benefits.
Based on this engine placement, the team's powered-lift design maximizes performance using several interrelated elements:
Novel Blown-Wing Design
In most fixed-wing aircraft, Englar explains, the upper surface of the wing is curved. That curvature forces air to flow faster over the top of the wing, which reduces pressure on the upper surface of the wing, increasing wing lift. Mechanical flaps increase aft curvature, enlarging the wing during take-off and landing, and augmenting lift by deflecting the ambient wind stream flowing over the wing.
But the lift generated by conventional wings isn't sufficient for the low flight speeds and steep ascents and descents required by CESTOL aircraft. The essential element in such extreme lift is circulation control / blown-wing technology. This approach can far exceed mechanical flaps in achieving high lift coefficient (a lift coefficient is a number that relates an aircraft's total lift to its wing area and flight speed).
The GTRI team has designed a blown wing that is relatively simple mechanically. Unlike a conventional wing, which uses multiple flap elements, GTRI's design uses only one small, relatively simple flap.
However, that single wing flap is used in tandem with a novel element based on circulation-control technology. A narrow slot, capable of pneumatically blowing out air, runs along the entire trailing edge of each wing, just above the flap. This system is powered by its own compressed air source located inside the wing.
The wing flap, which forms a sharp trailing edge during level flight to reduce drag, rotates downward on take-off and landing. When thus rotated, it forms a highly curved aft surface; then air from the slot can be blown over that curved surface to generate high lift.
This procedure, called flap-blowing, performs two functions: it increases air velocity over the top of the wing, and it deflects the ambient wind stream downward so that it curls under the wing. The combined forces generate a lift coefficient that can be two to four times higher than a conventional mechanical flap.
Entraining Jet Exhaust
To achieve even higher lift than flap-blowing alone, the GTRI design takes advantage of an additional phenomenon -- the interaction between the air coming from the wing slot and the exhaust of the plane's over-the-wing jet engines.
During take-off and landing, air flow from the slot interacts with the engine exhaust and pulls this powerful exhaust blast down onto the wing. This process, called entraining the exhaust, greatly increases the velocity of the air passing over the wing and results in highly augmented upward suction and lift.
"This strategy allows an aircraft to be flying at a very low speed, while the wing is seeing much higher relative wind speeds on its curved upper surface due to this blowing and thrust-entraining combination," Englar said. "We have measured lift coefficients between 8.0 and 10.0 on these pneumatic powered-lift wings at a level flight condition during testing. The normal lift coefficient on a conventional wing at a similar flight condition is less than 1.0."
The benefit of an above-the-wing engine configuration is not limited to providing good short takeoff and landing (STOL) performance. It also provides two potential sources of noise reduction: engine-noise shielding and reduced noise footprint in the community.
Gaeta explains the noise-shielding issue by noting that today's commercial jets have their engines under the wings. During take-off and approach, a great deal of noise from these jets propagates downward unimpeded, while engine sound that does travel upward bounces off the wing and then reflects downward.
"By putting the noise source above the wing, there is the potential to shield the ground from engine noise, at least partially," Gaeta said.
The critical design choice in noise shielding involves where to place the engine relative to the wing, he explained. Closer to the wing helps take-off and landing performance, but it increases noise due to viscous rubbing of the jet exhaust stream acting along the wing upper surface. Further away from the wing is better from a noise perspective, but not as effective for take-off and landing performance.
Finally, to the extent that placing the engine above the wing can shield exhaust noise, the engine needs to be placed as far forward as possible because maximum jet noise occurs at the exhaust exit, Gaeta said. Moreover, all of these design choices must not detract from the crucial issue of cruise performance.
The very nature of a STOL flight trajectory -- steep takeoff and approach angles -- offers another potential noise benefit. This trajectory keeps much of the offending noise closer to the airport environs.
Explained Gaeta: "By virtue of steeper takeoff and approach angles, the STOL aircraft can potentially keep its most offending noise within the airport boundary because it is farther from the ground when it passes over communities."
Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA
Media Relations Contacts: Kirk Englehardt (404-407-7280)(firstname.lastname@example.org) or John Toon (404-894-6986)(email@example.com).
Writer: Rick Robinson]]>
Research underway at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) could enable fixed-wing jet aircraft to take off and land at steep angles on short runways, while also reducing engine noise heard on the ground.]]>
Research News & Publications Office
Contact John Toon
The recession has expanded the business advantages of Georgia manufacturers that compete on the basis of innovation in new or technologically improved products, processes, organizational structures or marketing practices. These innovative companies are more than twice as profitable as firms competing on the basis of low price.
That's one conclusion of the 2010 Georgia Manufacturing Survey, which also found that companies are preparing for post-recession growth, expanding export capabilities, addressing sustainability issues -- and still dealing with out-sourcing and in-sourcing. The survey, which included nearly 500 manufacturers, was conducted by Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, and Kennesaw State University, with support from the Georgia Department of Labor and accounting firm Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP.
Georgia has approximately 10,000 manufacturers that provide nearly 350,000 jobs and account for 11 percent of the gross state product. Workers in manufacturing companies earn wages averaging nearly twice those of workers in retail companies.
The survey found a widening profitability gap between manufacturers that compete on the basis of innovation compared to those that use other competitive strategies. That gap has grown in each survey conducted since 2002.
"Companies that compete on the basis of innovation are much more profitable, pay higher wages and more likely to benefit from in-sourcing opportunities than firms that compete on low price," said Jan Youtie, the survey's director and a principal research associate in Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. "Adoption of an innovation strategy can be useful to manufacturers regardless of industrial segment, and is especially important during difficult economic times."
As part of the survey, companies were asked to rank six competitive strategies for their importance to winning sales. More than half of the respondents mentioned "high quality," while approximately 20 percent chose "low price" or "adapting to customer needs." Fewer than 10 percent reported "innovation/new technology" as a primary competitive strategy.
Across all six strategies, innovation was associated with the highest mean return on sales: 14 percent, compared to just six percent for the low-price strategy. And those financial benefits extended to workers, whose annual salaries averaged $10,000 per year more at innovative manufacturers than at other companies.
The top five innovative tactics reported by respondents were (1) working with customers to create or design a product, process or other innovation, (2) signing a confidentiality agreement to access a new product or process, (3) working with suppliers to create or design a product, process or other innovation, (4) purchasing new equipment, and (5) conducting research and development activities in-house.
While manufacturers of technology products are most often associated with the strategy, innovative companies can be found in all industrial segments, said Philip Shapira, co-director of the survey and professor in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy.
"Many people think that innovation is something that has to be done in a lab, but our results show that innovation occurs more broadly, particularly as companies partner with customers and suppliers to take into account their needs for a new product or process," he explained. "While high technology companies tend to be innovative by their nature, innovation occurs across all segments, and every firm has opportunities to be innovative."
Companies often cite cost as a reason for not innovating, but Shapira noted that only 10 percent of companies take advantage of R&D tax credits; fewer still use investment tax credits. "While financial incentives can assist innovation, there is a greater need to build awareness and capabilities among more of the state's firms to undertake innovation," he said.
Though more than two-thirds of Georgia's manufacturers have cut jobs or lost sales in the recession, many of these companies are now looking toward the future with plans for locating new customers, boosting capital investment, expanding research and development and continuing to reduce costs.
"When we look at their plans, Georgia manufacturers are in an expansive mood, looking for new customers and getting ready for the next phase of economic growth," Youtie said.
The survey found that 70 percent of respondents were looking for new customers, 20 percent planned to expand capital investment, and 15 percent planned to increase expenditures on research and development. At the same time, 60 percent of respondents said they still planned to cut costs.
Another trend studied was growth in the number companies selling to international markets. More than half of the responding manufacturers said they were exporters -- and those manufacturers reported 50 percent higher profitability than non-exporters. Some 22 percent of respondents had increased their export sales since the last survey in 2008.
"We don't find much difference between exporting companies when comparing them by the amount they export," Youtie noted. "What seems to be important is the capability to export. We think there is some learning that takes place, and some capability that a company develops to become an exporter. That capability translates into improved performance across the board, in addition to creating new markets and different margins."
The survey also found that out-sourcing of work has leveled off, with approximately 16 percent of manufacturers affected by the loss of business in 2010. At the same time, the percentage of firms benefitting from in-sourcing -- movement of work to Georgia -- has grown to nearly 15 percent.
"Out-sourcing isn't going away, but it has stabilized," Youtie said. "In-sourcing appears to be growing, which creates opportunities for good manufacturers to benefit from consolidation of production from other U.S. facilities or even from overseas."
The study also looked at sustainability issues, and found that 60 percent of companies recycle and attempt to reduce waste -- one form of sustainability. However, just 11 percent of respondents had inventoried their carbon footprints or emissions, and fewer than five percent were using renewable energy.
The bottom line for manufacturers?
"The results of our survey can point manufacturers to a way forward for getting ready for the next phase," said Youtie. "Companies can develop innovation capabilities; they can look into exporting and they can collaborate more with suppliers and customers."
Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA
Media Relations Contacts: John Toon (404-894-6986)(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nancy Fullbright (912-963-2509)(email@example.com).
Writer: John Toon]]>
The recession has expanded the business advantages of Georgia manufacturers that compete on the basis of innovation in new or technologically improved products, processes, organizational structures or marketing practices.]]>
Research News & Publications Office
Contact John Toon
The United States Department of Energy reports that forty percent of all energy consumed in the nation is consumed by buildings. A renewed focus on high performance buildings at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture aims to reduce that percentage and meet the rising demand for in-house talent to evaluate the environmental impact of design decisions. Continuing a twenty-five-year trajectory of research leadership, Tech students and faculty are leading the way in digital design, building simulation and architecture/engineering/construction integration.
The High Performance Buildings PhD concentration and Post-Professional Master of Science program are developing new knowledge and new tools to inform design and investment decisions. “We are focusing on quantitative expressions of energy performance,” said Professor Fried Augenbroe in a recent Research Forum, hosted monthly by the College of Architecture. “Our partners can integrate these measures in the development of innovative architectural designs, and streamline the energy saving discussion within the design.” Augenbroe says current methods cannot predict performance with certainty, hence the need for research that shows performance risks to developers and owners. This will lead the way to new energy-saving approaches with the upfront involvement of all stakeholders including the occupants.
Associate Dean for Research Steve French has already recognized Georgia Tech’s potential to lead nationally in this area. “These topics that are central to the College of Architecture are currently at the forefront of the research agenda of the nation and the Institute,” he said.
The energy performance standard for Qatar
Recently, researchers at Georgia Tech participated in the development of an integral sustainability assessment system for the middle-eastern country of Qatar led by the TC Chan Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The approach provides a more transparent and locally adapted alternative to for instance LEED. The TC Chan center is led by Dr. Ali Malkawi, one of the first PhD graduates in building technology from Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture.
Called the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), the standard has distinct advantages in terms of transparency and robustness. The Georgia Tech team focused on the development of the energy performance criterion “The QSAS energy performance calculation is totally normative, which means that there is no wiggle room in its evaluation,” said Augenbroe. “The building either passes or it does not.” The Qatar construction market is about to adopt the method for country-wide energy performance rating and overall sustainability scoring, effective end of 2009.
The standard follows the CEN-ISO approach, as defined by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard defines energy outcomes on five levels: (1) thermal energy needs, (2) delivered energy, (3) primary energy, (4) CO2 emissions, and (5) NOx and SOx emissions. The CEN-ISO approach is very different from the ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) approaches which govern the US market.
To prepare market introduction, TC Chan researchers, including professor Augenbroe and his students have been running a series of energy standard workshops in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The economic viability of a zero-energy solar house
Georgia Tech’s entry to the 2007 Solar Decathlon House gave the High Performance Building group a working prototype to study the economic viability of such a building. Recent doctoral graduate Huafen Hu focused on the question, “What would happen if it were mass produced today?” Hu performed a reliability analysis to quantify the underlying risks in terms of power unavailability and the “damage” this poses to occupants. The outcomes translate to a trade-off between investment costs and risk, thereby offering the ability to inspect the economic viability of large scale introduction of zero energy solar houses.
Recently the Georgia Tech Solar Decathlon House moved to the new Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. Tellus became the new home with the help of Green Habitats, Inc., an organization that promotes sustainable building by supporting research and educational programs to design and build housing that conserves water and energy.
Ongoing research into the practical application of PV at the residential scale is using Tech’s Solar Decathlon house as a test-bed, to test the feasibility of using captured rainwater for supplemental cooling of PV systems--thus increasing their efficiency. This research is being led by Profesors Augenbroe and Gentry in collaboration with Miroslav Begovic in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical Engineering and Huafen Hu of Portland State University.
Global leadership in simulation
MS and Ph.D. students in the High Performance Buildings program of the College of Architecture recently won an international simulation competition to devise a control system for a three-story, open plan office building located in Glasgow, Scotland. The competition was hosted by the England Chapter of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA) at its annual conference.
Their winning entry looked at optimizing solar-assisted natural ventilation with a controlled hybrid ventilation strategy. Using readily available simulation tools, the proposal explored different combinations of inlet and outlet openings to maximize natural ventilation and to meet required levels of fresh air. Additionally, the proposal minimized energy consumption by using only mechanical heating and controlling the building inlets based on set temperature.
Most of the approaches and tools addressed above are part of the new MS HPB curriculum--led by Professors Augenbroe, and Russell Gentry along with Minjung Maing and Jason Brown. Minjung Maing has joined the Architecture faculty in a visiting role, adding extensive practical experience to the HPB Masters program in the technical design, realization and forensics of building enclosures.
Through his national and international engagements, Augenbroe is evangelizing the broad adoption of risk analysis in building performance simulation. One of the issues that his research team encounters is the fact that many malfunctions of building systems cannot be foreseen with our current simulations. This is one of the reasons why his group is focusing on building new simulation models with Modelica--a next generation systems modeling tool--to track potential anomalies in system behavior. The outcomes of this research will help the market to build more resilient HVAC and control systems. PhD student Jason Brown is graduating this spring on a Modelica model of the complex interaction between air flows inside buildings and thermal enclosure properties.
Whole-Building Life Cycle Assessment
Associate Professor Russell Gentry and Charlene Bayer in GTRI are leading a multi-disciplinary team with the American Institute of Architects to explore the future of Life Cycle Assessment in building design and construction. In the future, LCA will help architects identify which building components cause the most environmental impact, and whether the overall impact of a project comes primarily from site selection or ongoing operation of the building. Through this project the AIA will provide LCA resources for practitioners. The project also will outline ongoing efforts to improve whole-building LCA tools and will provide a vision for the use of LCA in the future.
Continuing a twenty-five-year trajectory of research leadership, Tech students and faculty are leading the way in digital design, building simulation and architecture/engineering/construction integration.]]>
College of Architecture
Contact Teri Nagel
Catherine L. Ross, Harry West Professor and director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at Georgia Institute of Technology, has been invited to assist President Barack Obama's recently created White House Office of Urban Affairs as it charts a new course for the nation. The White House Office of Urban Affairs was created for the purpose of coordinating federal agencies that impact urban policies in order to ensure thoughtful and integrated investment in urban areas. The office is also charged with identifying policies that will best leverage the assets of our metropolitan areas.
Adolfo CarriÃ³n Jr., director of Urban Affairs, recently stated, "We want to essentially tease out what the elements of a national agenda ought to be." Ross has extensive experience in regional planning, infrastructure planning and development. She is the author of the recently released "Megaregions: Planning for Global Competitiveness," published by Island Press in July 2009. Ross co-authored "The Inner City: Urban Poverty and Economic Development in the Next Century," published by Transaction Press. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden created the White House Office of Urban Affairs to develop a strategy for metropolitan America and to help direct federal dollars targeted for urban areas. CarriÃ³n reports directly to the President and is responsible for coordinating all federal urban programs.]]>
Georgia Tech Media Relations
As competition increases and shippers raise their expectations for service, trucking companies must optimize their routes and use of drivers, vehicles and facilities.
Researchers in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech are developing models to help optimize driver and equipment scheduling, shipment planning, load consolidation and routing for two carriers]]>
Architecture Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones and City and Regional Planning doctoral student Ning Ai have received the 2010-2011 Women of Excellence Award from the Georgia Tech College of Architectureâs National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program.
Dunham-Jones, recipient of the Women of Excellence Faculty Award ($1,500), has received an increasing amount of attention as a thought leader focused on the problems and potentials of suburban development since the publication of her book, Retrofitting Suburbia, in 2008 with co-author June Williamson. She is in great demand as a speaker to professional and civic organizations, discussions of her research have been featured in TimeMagazine, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and TED conferences, among a host of others. Her book, now in its second edition, has been named winner in the Architecture & Urban Planning category of the 2009 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (The PROSE Awards) awarded by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) division of the Association of American Publishers. As a faculty member, Professor Dunham-Jones has provided an example to younger faculty, both male and female, through her own career of patient, focused effort toward the pursuit of important goals. As Director of the Architecture Program for eight years, she championed the advancement of faculty diversity and the success of new hires.
Doctoral candidate Ning Ai, recipient of the Women of Excellence Graduate Award ($800), is described as an exceptionally bright, motivated and hard working student in the School of City and Regional Planning. As the senior research assistant on National Science Foundation grants, her performance has been outstanding. She has surpassed her fellow research assistants, taken on project management duties; helped prepare grant proposals, workshops, annual reports and articles; and has given numerous presentations. Much of the research she has undertaken over the course of our grant has required the acquisition of new skills, which she eagerly sought. Ms. Aiâs dissertation looks at waste avoidance and waste management through a planning lens, a neglected topic in the field which demonstrates that planning has important tools to offer for more sustainable solid waste management. Her demonstrated excellence in research and scholarship points to a very promising career after she graduates. She is often sought out by other students for advice and she is well respected by faculty in the School of City and Regional Planning. Additionally, she shows strong signs of being an institution builder via her participation in student governance, college level committees and an officer in a professional association. She recently was offered a faculty position and will bring significant talent to that institution.
The Women of Excellence Undergraduate Award ($500) has not yet been awarded.
As ADVANCE Professor in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture, Catherine Ross solicits nominations and presents the Women of Excellence awards. Ross is Harry West Professor of City and Regional Planning and director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development. Awards are presented annually to individuals who have distinguished themselves through professional leadership, mentoring, academic excellence and sustained service on behalf of the Georgia Institute of Technology and to the College of Architecture. Read more about the ADVANCE Program at Georgia Tech.
The 2009-2010 award winners were Professor Nancey Green Leigh in the School of City and Regional Planning, doctoral student Paola Sanguinetti in the School of Architecture and undergraduate senior and Krystal Persaud in the School of Industrial Design. The 2008-2009 winners were Professor Elizabeth M. "Betty" Dowling in the School of Architecture, for her years of scholarship, the exceptional quality of her work and for effectively mentoring graduate students in her field; doctoral student Jessica Doyle in the School of City and Regional Planning and undergraduate senior Shannon Barnes in the School of Building Construction.]]>
Marianne Cusato, Forbes Magazine
Due to the economic recession and high rates of foreclosures, recovery from the recession must include a triple bottom line- people, planet, and profit. The home of 2020 will be closer to work, school, and stores. It will provide you with information and energy savings. Growth will occur in mid-sized cities, such as Charlotte, Austin, and Portland instead of super cities such as Houston. According to Dr. Ross, we must utilize the idea of megaregions in order to be economically viable instead of trying to stand alone and compete.]]>
With thousands of commercial buildings in foreclosure and many others in disrepair, cities around the country are looking for ways to rescue the properties and eliminate community blight. A program called "Red Fields to Green Fields" proposes acquiring abandoned and underutilized properties, demolishing or repositioning them, and replacing them with conservation land, parks, infrastructure improvements or other green space, which will attract economic development when the economy recovers.
"Red field properties have negative value civically, environmentally and economically. Converting this underused commercial real estate to green space now and land that could be built on again when the economy improves would be transformational," said Kevin Caravati, a senior research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). "The conversion would create demolition and landscaping jobs and stabilize housing and property values around the distressed properties."
With support from the Speedwell Foundation, the Georgia Institute of Technology has helped 11 U.S. cities assess the supply of distressed commercial real estate in their communities and determine the best approaches for turning some of that property into green space. Last week, representatives from Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Hilton Head Island revealed their cities' Red Fields to Green Fields study results in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Capitol. Altogether, the five cities' plans would create as many as 20,000 acres of new parkland and an estimated 300,000 new jobs.
Representatives from the National Park Service, the Trust for Public Land, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady's office also attended the meeting. The Pennsylvania congressman is introducing legislation on red fields to green fields issues.
In his remarks at the meeting, Mickey Fearn, deputy director of communications and community assistance for the National Park Service, stated that Red Fields to Green Fields could be America's best idea. Since the financial crisis began in 2008, real estate values have declined approximately $10 trillion. Today, city residents are surrounded by vacant strip malls, blighted commercial corridors, abandoned housing developments and an oversupply of retail and industrial space.
For the Red Fields to Green Fields project, each city asked the same question: What if we invest a few billion dollars in our city to convert red fields to green fields?
To answer the question, Georgia Tech researchers helped each city utilize financial models used by the U.S. Department of the Interior and data reported by the Federal Reserve to quantify the economic, health, social, policy and engineering impacts of turning red fields into green fields. They also incorporated data from city master plans, green space plans, transportation reports, urban infrastructure redevelopment programs and geographic information system databases. The reports were written in collaboration with the City Parks Alliance and 14 universities, local government agencies and stakeholders.
While each city had a different story, the answer was always the same. Thousands of acres of underutilized residential and commercial real estate assets could be rescued and restored through public park planning to enhance the city's economic, environmental and physical health. Cities could replace concrete and glass with trees, green space and cleaner air; remove abandoned buildings that attract crime and vagrancy; and create space for recreation, play and exercise to combat obesity and poor health.
"This type of conversion would spur business activity, create jobs and address the real estate problem at its source -- oversupply," said Michael Messner of the Speedwell Foundation. "And its economic effect would be multiplied with increased infrastructure spending, leverage from unlocking banks’ reserves, and real estate owners would spend again knowing their real estate values have stabilized."
The City of Los Angeles report proposed more than 200 projects to revitalize areas surrounding 32 miles of the Los Angeles River. These projects would create walkable and bikeable connections to the river and link users to small businesses and job sites.
Nearly 3,000 acres of non-performing real estate could be removed from the Phoenix market through red fields to green fields investments, according to that city's report, creating almost 50,000 jobs and an economic impact of $5.9 billion.
"Red fields to green fields projects can restore liquidity to the real estate markets and put Arizona back to work," added Joseph Goodman, a graduate student in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture.
In Detroit, an industrial land inventory indicated that more than 11,000 acres of distressed real estate could be used to create corridors linking job site locations with housing and transportation.
Acquiring land adjacent to 10 major bayous in Houston and establishing an interconnected system of parks, trails and economic development corridors could create 55,000 jobs over the next 10 years. Hilton Head Island served as a case study to evaluate the economic and job impacts to coastal communities.
'Often thought of as resort areas, coastal towns serve as hubs for commercial real estate development, recreation and jobs. We found that red fields to green fields projects in Hilton Head Island and other coastal communities can revitalize these communities and establish conservation lands," said GTRI research scientist Matthew Wren.
The five new city reports add to reports published last year for six other cities -- Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Miami and Wilmington.
Since publishing its report, the city of Denver, in collaboration with the Trust for Public Land and private donors, started acquiring red field sites along the South Platte River Corridor. It is estimated that these investments and implementation of a robust red fields to green fields program in Denver could add more than 30,000 new jobs to the region and remove more than 6,000 acres of distressed real estate from the market, creating an almost $4 billion impact.
During the past year, Miami also began to execute its Red Fields to Green Fields proposal, which tied into its city master plan, and is working to acquire land through public-private partnerships. Miami's report stated that the tax base could be increased by an estimated $59 million per year by converting 312 acres of non-performing real estate to transit-oriented development and more than 14,000 jobs per year for five years could be created. In addition, linking Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay National Park could create 1,625 acres of additional parkland.
Other U.S. cities have already embraced the concept of converting distressed real estate to improve a region's infrastructure and encourage economic development. Boston's "Big Dig" was a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project that transformed the city. Local, smaller scale examples in Atlanta include Atlantic Station, the Piedmont Park expansion and the Beltline Old Fourth Ward project.
During the next year, the Georgia Tech research team will focus its efforts on helping the 11 cities implement the plans in their Red Fields to Green Fields reports.
Other researchers involved in the Red Fields to Green Fields program include Joseph Hughes, chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech; Carolyn Knabel, a graduate student in the Georgia Tech College of Architecture; Cade Strippelhoff, a graduate student in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy; and Erin Keller, an undergraduate student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA
Media Relations Contacts: Abby Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org; 404-385-3364) or John Toon (email@example.com; 404-894-6986) or Kirk Englehardt (firstname.lastname@example.org; 404-407-7280)
Writer: Abby Robinson]]>
Georgia Tech researchers involved in the Red Fields to Green Fields program helped Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Hilton Head assess their distressed commercial real estate supplies and determine the best way to turn some into green space.]]>
Research News and Publications
Contact Abby Robinson
Catherine L. Ross, Harry West Professor and director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) at Georgia Institute of Technology, has been invited to the White House, in partnership with DOT and HUD, Clean Energy Forum. Secretary Ray LaHood (DOT) and Secretary Shaun Donovan (HUD) will speak about why action for a clean energy future is of vital importance and will then illicit responses and experiences from stakeholders regarding the issue. Ross has extensive experience in regional planning, infrastructure planning, and development. She is the author of the recently released "Megaregions: Planning for Global Competitiveness," published by Island Press in July 2009. Ross co-authored "The Inner City: Urban Poverty and Economic Development in the Next Century," published by Transaction Press. Ross advises the newly created White House Office of Urban Affairs .It is headed by Director Adolfo CarriÃ³n, Jr., who is charged with reporting directly to President Obama and concurrently to both Valerie Jarrett and to Melody Barnes.]]>