Multi-hazards community-based resilience
Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters cause tremendous damages to the built environment and severe interruption to economic and social activities. The CSI brings together expertise across multiple engineering and non-engineering disciplines to develop a framework for multi-hazard resilient design and emergency management. It predicts the frequency and extent of hazards at locations of existing or future infrastructure. The CSI leverages a multi-axial large scale structural testing lab and computational capabilities to create new methods, technologies, and materials. The impacts of disasters on systems and their interdependence are detected and monitored with the aid of novel sensors and algorithms. The CSI forms partnership with public and private stakeholders for prototyping, validation and piloting.
Energy simulation and retrofitting of buildings
Improving the energy efficiency can translate to lower energy bills in homes and commercial buildings and yield axillary benefits as alleviating stress on the electric grid and improving its reliability, resilience, and environmental performance. However, demand for energy efficiency in buildings beyond simple upgrades like light-emitting diode (LED) lights remains low. To enable major advancements for both new and existing buildings, the CSI partners with UA centers (e.g., DOE Industrial Assessment Center) and leads the interdisciplinary teams to deliver cost-effective and scalable solutions to deep energy savings. It aims to modernize construction, reduce costs, and improve quality through advanced materials, components, equipment, and whole building technologies all of which are critical to improving the productive use of energy, enhancing the affordability of building ownership and residency, and maintaining the Nation’s energy independence.
Accelerated and automated construction
The construction industry lags behind other industries in adopting the advanced technologies that have propelled other industries forward. Given the underinvestment in research and development and a high degree of fragmentation, the industry is ripe for the introduction of automation, robotics, and digitization. For example, modular construction requires designers to employ simulation tools to predict the feasibility and cost of delivery of components to the construction site, and movement of components into place for joining. The CSI has a compelling opportunity to catalyze innovations that not only improve the industry’s productivity and competitiveness, but simultaneously tackle other building-related challenges, including energy efficiency, disaster resiliency, health and safety, and environmental sustainability. It explores and enhances existing logistical, on-site conveyance, and assembly simulators and creates new software where none exists. Development of a workforce with advanced knowledge and skills is of great interest.
Advanced materials for civil infrastructure
Advanced construction and building materials provide fundamental technical solutions for the built environment. Aiming to address some of the major challenges facing the nation, the material innovation efforts focus on reducing both embodied and operational carbon of building systems, enhancing the performance and longevity of civil infrastructure, and recycling/upcycling solid wastes for use in construction materials by harnessing the latest developments in nanotechnology, computational material science, and biomimicry. Such a multi-scale and multi-faceted approach is key to designing a more sustainable and resilient world.