2019 Seed Grant Recipients

Investigators: Dr. Rui Liu and Dr. Reid Coffman (College of Architecture and Environmental Design)

Person in hazardous gear inside concrete tower

By 2050, two-thirds of the people in the world will be pulled to the urban areas because of the promise of jobs, prosperity and other factors. However, intensive urbanization can destroy ecosystems, accentuating poverty due to environmental degradation (e.g., poor air and water quality, noise pollution, health hazards due to uncollected solid wastes, flooding because of increased impervious surfaces and insufficient design for the storm water)(Huovila et al, 2007). New infrastructure must be ecologically productive.  The construction of new concrete-based infrastructure from local waste streams may provide a solution to support these populations and address environmental challenges caused by urbanization.

The Northeast Ohio Infrastructure Report Card released on 2/20/2019 (ASCE, 2018) explains that our infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating and requires extensive replacement to maintain the future quality of life of its citizens and its global competitiveness. Potential solutions to address these challenges begin with delivering new infrastructure that provides both engineering and ecological services to citizens. One potential solution is structural concrete that is bio-receptive, in order to provide necessary local ecosystem services through the colonization of “protective bacteria” and simultaneous growth of vegetation. This development will engage local governments and businesses to promote economic development and job creation, developing private-public partnerships to provide services, and increasing new types of city green spaces within infrastructure investments.