Welcome to Iowa UrbanFEWS

Social and biophysical models to integrate local food systems, climate dynamics, built forms, and environmental impacts in the Urban Food-Energy-Water Systems nexus

Systems frameworks that analyze the Urban FEWS nexus have only recently been proposed.  Developing such frameworks is challenging because urban FEW systems are characterized by disconnected processes for production, distribution, consumption, and cycling of food, energy, and water systems. In addition, the effects of changes in climate and land use, built forms, and their impacts on food supply, energy conservation and consumption, and environmental outcomes (e.g., water quality) are often considered in isolation. Our proposed work will address problems related to urban food systems, which alone cause 20% to 50% of human impact on the environment as a result of high population densities, heavy reliance on external food sources, and failure to recycle nutrients.  To conduct robust analyses of urban FEW systems it is necessary to consider interactions within the urban system itself, as well as trans-boundary interactions with areas both adjacent to and further removed from the system.  While frameworks emphasizing the biophysical elements of urban FEW systems and interactions among them have been presented, previous efforts failed to closely integrate social, biophysical, and climatic models to characterize the urban FEW system-of-systems.  Urban areas are where over 50% of people in the world and 80% of people in the US live and work.  Human choices drive significant changes in both social and physical landscapes, so it is imperative to integrate social dynamics in analyses of the urban FEWS nexus.

 

News

Major NSF sponsored grant will help researchers discover ways to improve urban sustainability

Mar 03, 2020
Posted Jan 22, 2020 9:47 am

Dense urban areas use up more energy, water and food resources than they can produce themselves, forcing them to rely on external sources. But a team of researchers is imagining bold new ways to make Midwestern cities more self-reliant.

The Sustainable Cities Research Team recently received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a framework for analysis of food, energy and water systems for greater Des Moines, which includes the city and the surrounding six-county area, and to formulate scenarios that could result in a more sustainable city. The team includes scientists from a wide range of disciplines at Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and University of Texas at Arlington.

The group intends for its results to inform decisions about food production, energy use, environmental outcomes and related policies that would apply to a large number of cities in rain-fed climates similar to Des Moines. Their innovative approach could help cities conserve building and transportation energy, reduce environmental impacts and improve city sustainability.


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Blog

Sedigheh Ghiasi wins first prize in the Carbon Negative Idea Contest Organized by the ISU Green Umbrella

May 05, 2022

Participants had 5 minutes to pitch their idea. Sedigheh's idea was based on her MS in Architecture thesis which promotes Photovoltaic rooftop panels to develop low carbon and resilient neighborhoods using a user-friendly- interactive GIS-based map. Click here to see her presentation.

Understanding urban plant phenology for sustainable cities and planet

Apr 08, 2022

Understanding urban plant phenology for sustainable cities and planet published by Yuyu Zhou. This article discusses the effects rapid urbanization has on plant phenology. The complexity of urban environments provides difficult growing constraints for plants. However, opportunities in spatial data and technologies greatly aid in the study of urban phenology. An advanced understanding of plant phenology and the changes due to urbanization is dire for understanding how to grow sustainable, urban ecosystems.

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Disclaimer

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation, Award # 1855902. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.