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Researchers Find that to Achieve Sustainability, Urban Systems Must Tackle Social Justice and Equity

Melissa Bilec, William Kepler Whiteford Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, is part of a team of researchers led by Georgia Tech that identified three main areas for long-term urban sustainability and viability: justice and equity, circularity, and digital twins. Their work was published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.  Bilec is also the Special Assistant to the Provost, and she is leading the Ad-Hoc Faculty Committee on Sustainability with the goal of developing a strategic plan at Pitt to envision and actualize the future of sustainability research and education.

Bilec, who co-leads NSF Convergence Research on the circular economy, was thrilled to bring her expertise to the circularity portion of this work that emphasizes equity and justice. Not only does circularity work address the circular economy, but it takes into account the many intertwining facets that include social, economic, and geographical factors, among others. The project was touched off by the Sustainable Urban Systems section at the International Society of Industrial Ecology, which Bilec co-chairs.

“While new technologies and new collaborations give us the opportunity to enable different, more sustainable urban systems, we also must keep a keen focus on equity and justice,” said Bilec. “What I’m most proud of is being able to work with this group of people from all over the world to try to give thought to the future direction of this research.”

Read more in the story written by Péralte C. Paul at Georgia Tech.