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Greening the Built Environment

At the macro-scale (kilometers) the urban landscape is a dramatically unique environment relative to the rest of the planet. Constructed and synthetic surfaces alter normal biological, chemical, hydrologic, and energy processes in ways that are poorly understood. However, it is generally accepted that environmental quality and ecological function have been degraded by the human-engineered built environment. Consideration of environmental quality should be integrated into infrastructure design and urban planning across multiple scales from nano to macro. Understanding urban system interdependencies will allow for a holistic macro-scale integration of a “living” urban landscape into biosphere processes in ways that are harmonious with ecosystem function, simultaneously promote environmental stewardship and economic development, and enhance quality of life. Existing expertise in this area can address such issues as water quality, water resources management, water reuse, reactive synthetic surfaces, carbon sequestration, and transportation systems. EEE research in the area of greening the built environment include research focusing on smart cities, smart grids, green certification systems, industrial ecology, and regenerative designs for landscapes.