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Engineering an answer to climate change

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August 26, 2022

The Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), led by Ohio State College of Engineering Professor Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, recently released a report concerning the solutions to climate change through an engineering lens. Ohio State Sustainability Institute’s own Elena Irwin played a key role in drawing up the event in which the report is based. This “inaugural visioning event” gathered over 100 individuals from a range of career paths, all with high levels of expertise in the areas of engineering and climate change. Together, they worked towards solutions, highlighted issues of most importance and identified critical research tracks. 

"This report emerged from a highly interdisciplinary workshop that included over 100 participants from many different areas of engineering as well as the physical, environmental and social sciences,” Irwin said. “One of the most exciting aspects for me was consideration of how issues of environmental justice intersect with engineering research on climate mitigation and adaptation and how a better understanding of that can inform climate change solutions. This is exactly the type of convergent research that Ohio State is well-positioned to address.” 

The National Science Foundation started providing funding for ERVA last year, and since then, the organization has built its credibility in industry, academia and policy. This report has reinforced this reputation and added to ERVA’s list of successes. In the finalized copy, findings were grouped into four broad topic areas:  

  • Energy storage, transmission and critical materials 

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) capture and elimination 

  • Resilient, energy efficient, and healthful infrastructure 

  • Water, ecosystems and geoengineering assessment 

Report authors describe the findings within these convergent areas in understandable language, avoiding technical jargon that could alienate the public. They outline necessary action items moving forward and how we can use the results of research to guide future directions. The theme of efficiency ties the entire report together and functions as the bottom line when it comes to solutions. Reduce emissions, clean up energy, manage water sustainably, and continue to innovate new technologies.  

Read the executive summary and full report here.