Sustaining the Urban Environment

University of Cincinnati

Overview (PDF)


University of Cincinnati's Sustaining the Urban Environment Center of Excellence focuses on improving the health and wealth of Ohio's urban dwellers through development and dissemination of engineering and scientific metrics, policies, and technologies that promote the evolution of economically and environmentally sustainable urban regions. According to the 2008 World Energy Outlook published by the International Energy Agency, cities are responsible for 67 percent of the world's energy demand and contribute 71 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Efficient energy management and development of renewable advanced energy technologies with small carbon footprints are key drivers in the evolution of sustainable urban regions. Close ties between energy, environment, and economy are deliberately fostered in the home of the Center, the newly formed School of Energy, Environmental, Biological and Medical Engineering, which houses both a first-of-its-kind undergraduate degree program in Energy and Materials Engineering and an established, highly-rated Environmental Engineering graduate program. Faculty members affiliated with the Center conduct research in bio-fuel, fuel cell, wind turbine and solar technologies as well as in energy-related environmental areas such as CO2 mitigation technologies, building energy efficiency, sustainable water infrastructure technologies, and sustainable industrial development.

Driving Economic Advancement

The Center is well positioned to produce graduates who are highly skilled "green collar" workers – the fastest growing economic sector. Vital partnerships with organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; GE Aviation; Algaeventure Systems Corporation; the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health; Pegasus Technology Services, Inc.; Battelle; AGENDA 360; Green Cincinnati Plan; and the Hamilton County Climate Initiative explore energy and sustainability solutions that also lead to job growth in Ohio.


  • Program RankingsEnvironmental Engineering — top-ranked PhD program at UC and ranked 3rd nationally among 130 programs by NRC (2010), 24th by US News & World Report, 6th by Academic Analytics, and 1st by OH College of Engineering Deans Report (May 2009); Architecture— 2nd by Design Intelligence Magazine; Environmental Health — 1st in NIH Funding of Public Institutions; Construction — 14th by C-School Blog: Construction Management Education; Planning — 20th by Planetizen Guide
  • Research Funding (FY 2008) $30,907,466 Total Research Awards; $25,677,993 Federal Research Awards
  • Campus SustainabilityPrinceton Review named UC among the nation's top "green" universities in its first-ever list of schools leading in environmental practices and in preparing the next generation of green professionals; five LEED-certified buildings on campus (most recent received gold-level)


  • Win an NSF Engineering Research Center and/or NIH Center in Sustainability
  • Promote sustainable energy industrial development in Ohio
  • Promote inclusion of energy-related metrics, policies and technologies in sustainability research conducted across campus
  • Leverage campus-wide minor in Sustainability and baccalaureate program in Energy and Materials to increase the number of graduates prepared for "green collar" jobs


  • 3 new faculty hires with expertise in photovoltaics, biomass energy production and water resource analysis and development
  • Research grants to study "Algae growth and utilization for wastewater cleanup (Hamilton County Metropolitan Sewer District); "A novel method of separating carbon dioxide gas from power plant flue gases for subsequent sequestration" (U.S. Dept of Energy); and the "Impact of climate change on meteorology and the subsequent impacts on energy production methods" (U.S. EPA)