Sustainability, Information Technology, and Environment
John C. Falcocchio
Polytechnic Institute of NYU
Sustainability is based on a simple principle:
Everything that humans need for survival and well-being depends directly or indirectly on our natural and built environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to permit fulfillment of the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.
The focus of this session was to illustrate a variety of applications of the above principle by addressing four sectors: information technology, transportation, urban water, and environmental sustainability.
Joan McDonald described the role of the New York State Department of Transportation and its linkages with communities, economic competitiveness, and environmental quality. She emphasized the importance of incorporating sustainability into transportation decisions and illustrated the application of this principle by describing a number of projects throughout the state.
Ruthie D. Lyle discussed the importance of innovative information technology (IT) in creating sustainable cities. She explained why the digital and physical worlds are converging and how this convergence is creating smarter approaches to infrastructure management leading to greater sustainability. She illustrated IT applications in various urban sectors, such as water con
sumption, security, flood and landslide forecasting, and traffic congestion mitigation.
Upmanu Lall addressed the effects of climate change on urban water in coastal zones, and discussed various issues involved in the development of adaptive approaches to risk mitigation.1 He pointed out that reducing urban water vulnerability to climate variations and change requires the adoption of management, planning, and operational practices based on adaptive rules informed by climate observations and predictions. One immediate opportunity for effecting gains lies in addressing seasonal to interannual climate risk, especially for multiyear droughts.
Carter H. Strickland’s remarks, presented on his behalf by Christopher M. Hawkins, concerned the crucial role of waterways, water supply, energy, and air quality, as set forth in New York City’s “PlaNYC 2030” for environmental sustainability. He cited examples illustrating (1) improvements of waterways to increase opportunities for recreation and restoration of coastal ecosystems, (2) the expansion of capacity for wastewater treatment, (3) green strategies to improve water quality, and (4) the use of various efficiency measures to reduce energy and emissions from existing buildings, wastewater treatment plants, solid waste management facilities, and vehicles.
1 Dr. Lall’s remarks are not included in this volume.