Fouad H. Fouad, PhD
Director, Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center
Professor and Chair, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Researchers estimate that by year 2050, 90 percent of Americans will live in cities, which collectively consume three-fourths of the world’s energy. The future of Birmingham and communities worldwide demands the sustainability of environmental, social, and economic urban resources. UAB’s contribution to sustainability derives from the university’s unique capabilities to generate new knowledge and cutting-edge science.
Through the Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSC), UAB acts as an engine of innovation that can transform the community by developing smart technologies and information systems, better transportation models, green construction, renewable energy, and sustainable environment, which results in increased economic development, healthier workforce, and better quality of life for all. Such innovation-based growth will lead to societal transformation, and UAB is proud to be at the forefront of this process, leading the way to the future.
The collaboration agreement between UAB and the City of Birmingham signed in February 2013 marked the beginning of this process. It is an example of innovative entrepreneurship in which the city becomes a living lab, a test bed for using research to benefit the community.
The academic affiliation between UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (UAB SSC) and Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom is opening new research and training collaboration opportunities with other parts of the world, extending UAB’s global reach, strengthening its academic programs, and benefitting our entire community.
The collaborative work we have begun identifies critical areas of research, training, and community engagement that are needed to make the urbanization process more organized, sustainable, and smart.
If you want to contribute to the work of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, please contact us:
UAB SUSTAINABLE SMART CITIES RESEARCH CENTER (SSC)
GoalThe main goal of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSC) is to foster cross-disciplinary research, training, and outreach that integrate health, socio-economic impacts, and infrastructure design for the purpose of developing innovative solutions for sustainable smart cities and communities. Specifically, the Center brings together multidisciplinary faculty with diverse expertise (green construction materials; sustainable building and design concepts; social impacts of technology; modeling and simulation; medical sociology, health informatics, and social psychology; public health, emergency preparedness and response, and community resiliency; and government and public policy) to develop tools and methods for sustainable infrastructure design.
With this cross-disciplinary innovation the Center provides an enabling platform to become an agent of change in public policy, to impact human interaction with the environment and to shift the paradigm of urban infrastructure to one that is economically affluent, environmentally responsible, and socially equitable.
RationaleMore than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The challenges presented by urban development are immense. Cities are responsible for around 75% of all energy used, 60% of all water consumed, and 80% of all greenhouse gases produced worldwide. In 2010, 83% of Americans lived in cities, and by 2050 the number will increase to 90%. Cities are the engines of growth in the U.S., but also at the core of major sustainability issues as their large populations and extensive, resource-intensive economic activity generate environmental pollution and consume scarce natural resources. Metropolitan areas also exhibit some of the most serious social equity problems.
As the world’s population continues to urbanize, metropolitan areas will increasingly be the focal point of environmental protection, social justice, energy conservation, and greenhouse gas reduction policies. To face the challenges arising from urbanization, we need sustainable smart cities with significantly improved infrastructure that makes them environmentally friendly, increases their residents’ quality of life, and cuts costs all at the same time.
A sustainable urban area is characterized by the preservation of natural environment, use of renewable or highly efficient energy resources, healthy population with access to health services, and the presence of economic vitality, social equity, and engaged citizenry. Such sustainability can be achieved with an integrated approach that includes environmental management; counter-sprawl measures; linkages between community, ecology, and economy; and coordinated stakeholder interaction.