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Pitt and Carnegie Mellon prepare for opening of sixth biennial Engineering Sustainability Conference

PITTSBURGH (April 15, 2015) … Organizers from the University of Pittsburgh's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and Carnegie Mellon University's Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research are readying for one of Pittsburgh's signature sustainability events. " Engineering Sustainability 2015: Innovation and the Triple Bottom Line " will be held April 19-21 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and will feature engineers and scientists from academia, government, industry and nonprofit sectors sharing cutting-edge research and practices directed at development of environmentally sustainable buildings and infrastructure.

"The built environment, which includes buildings, the transportation grid, and water collection and treatment systems, helps to sustain our economy and way of life, but at the cost of heavy resource use and waste generation," noted Eric Beckman, PhD, Co-Director of MCSI. "We're witnessing this now in Pittsburgh, where Alcosan is developing a $2 billion Wet Weather Plan as part of a federal mandate to address sewer overflow in a decades-old system by 2026, as well as in California, where they are on the verge of a megadrought that could last decades."

"Solving these problems won't be simple or affordable, which is why the Engineering Sustainability Conference brings together researchers who are addressing these problems which affect cities and towns across the U.S.," explained Neil Donahue, PhD, Director of the Steinbrenner Institute. "Over the past ten years CMU and Pitt have brought together some of the world's best sustainability thinkers to continue this dialogue and search for solutions."

The Engineering Conference is sponsored in part by Mascaro Construction Company LP, Eaton, Master Builders' Association of Western Pennsylvania Inc., PNC Bank, UPMC, and PPG. Partners include the Green Building Alliance, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Engineers' Society of Western PA, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and PGH Green Innovators. For more information and to register visit engineering.pitt.edu/mcsi.  

This year's plenary speakers include:

Shahzeen Attari
Assistant Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
"Water Use: Effective Actions, Perceptions and System Thinking "

Shahzeen Attari's research focuses on the interactions between natural and social systems, particularly human behavior and climate change. Her current work investigates effects of real-time energy feedback, how to use games for research and learning, and factors that motivate action in social dilemmas, and her previous work investigated preferences for behavior change and perceptions of energy consumption. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at The Earth Institute and CRED at Columbia University.  She holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering Physics from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  

Christopher Flavin
Senior Fellow and President Emeritus of the Worldwatch Institute 
"Building a Sustainable Future: The Road to Low Carbon Energy"

Christopher Flavin is a well-known expert on strategies for transforming energy systems to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and power a low-carbon future.  He advises governments, businesses, and international financial institutions, and lectures widely around the world. Mr. Flavin has authored three books: "Power Surge: Guide to the Coming Energy Revolution," "Running on Empty: the Future of the Automobile," and "Renewable Energy: the Power to Choose."  He has also published scores of articles for popular and scholarly publications. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and serves on the Advisory Boards of the American Council on Renewable Energy and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.  He holds a cum laude degree in economics and biology from Williams College.  

Richard Luthy

Silas H. Palmer Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment
"Re-Inventing Urban Water Supplies in the Arid West"

Dick Luthy is the Silas H. Palmer Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment.  His area of teaching and research is environmental engineering and water quality.  He is also the Director of the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for re-inventing the nation's urban water infrastructure (renewit.org) that promotes new strategies for urban water systems to achieve more sustainable solutions to urban water challenges, especially in regions experiencing chronic water shortages and vulnerabilities to cycles of very low precipitation like the American west and southwest.  In related work, his research investigates cost-effective and natural approaches for sediment restoration.

Dr. Luthy is a past chair of the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board and he has served on various NRC committees. He is a former President of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a registered professional engineer, a board certified environmental engineer, and Water Environment Federation Fellow.

Joylette Portlock
President, Communitopia
" Communicating Climate Change with Humor"

Dr. Joylette Portlock is the President of Communitopia, a nonprofit based in Pittsburgh that focuses on climate change communication.  There, she stars in a series of funny, short web videos on climate change targeted to the general public, called " Don't Just Sit There- Do Something!"  Dr. Portlock studied biology at M.I.T. and completed a Ph.D. in genetics from Stanford University in 2006; she now works to give the public important scientific information it can use.  She has worked on environmental issues at the local, state, and federal level, and has been focused on global climate change since 2007.  Dr. Portlock is a HuffPost blogger and also currently serves on the Allegheny County Board of Health.  

Invited Speakers

Joule Bergerson

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary  
"Energy Systems Sustainable Analysis" 

Matthew Eckelman
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Northeastern University  
"Modeling the Non-energy Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency Measures" 

Shelie Miller
Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Michigan  
"A Proactive approach to Manage Unintended Consequences of Emerging Technologies"

Sally Ng
Assistant Professor and Baldwin Junior Faculty Fellow, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
"Air Quality and Healthy: Does "Particulate Matter" matter?"    

Kristen Parrish
Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability and the Built Environment
Arizona State University
"Small Buildings, Big Impacts: Promoting Energy Efficiency in Small Commercial Building Through 2030 Districts"  

Jordan Peccia
Associate Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Yale University
"Engineering Healthy Buildings"

Mike Stenstrom
Distinguished Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering
"Sustainable Water Supplies: Options for Better Stormwater Management"

Ashlynn S. Stillwell 
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Water, Energy, and a Sustainable Future: An Interdisciplinary Approach"

Author: Paul Kovach

Contact: Paul Kovach