MERCED, CALIF. — The University of California, Merced, will become the new headquarters of Engineers for a Sustainable World effective July 1. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) is a global, nonprofit network of about 4,000 students, faculty, and professionals dedicated to building a sustainable world for current and future generations by way of collaborative, interdisciplinary engineering projects.
"The vision for Engineers for a Sustainable World is improving the quality of life and the prosperity of the planet, but in a way that’s economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable," said E. Daniel Hirleman, dean of UC Merced’s School of Engineering and chair of the ESW advisory board. "UC Merced has sustainability in its DNA, so I think it’s an obvious home for a group like Engineers for a Sustainable World."
ESW, like UC Merced itself, is committed to finding sustainable solutions to society’s most challenging problems, from developed countries creating millions of tons of pollution and waste each year to people around the world struggling to gain access to clean water, healthy food and suitable shelter.
Industry leaders in the San Joaquin Valley say they can see the benefit UC Merced’s involvement in ESW could have both regionally and globally.
"Sustainability of our water supply is a critical challenge facing the San Joaquin Valley and the world," said Henrik Laursen, head of the Grundfos Water Technology Center in Fresno. "Grundfos is a pace-setter in sustainable water technology, and we are excited to see UC Merced taking a similar global leadership role in sustainable engineering. We look forward to partnering with them on regional and global initiatives."
An active student chapter of ESW has already been established at UC Merced, and a number of UC Merced students are working on ESW projects, from designing a solar-powered cargo ship to using solar energy to power distillation plants needed to provide clean water to small San Joaquin Valley communities. And graduate student Brandi McKuin recently returned from India, where she’s studying ways to provide sustainable solutions to rural villages that have been told they’ll never receive electricity.
UC Merced is the first campus in the nation to have all of its buildings certified silver or better by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The campus has also set a "Triple Zero Commitment" — to produce as much energy as is used, eliminate landfill waste, and produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions, all by 2020. Such a goal requires not only sustainable operations on campus, but advancements in technology that come from the kind of interdisciplinary research ESW champions.
"UC Merced is interdisciplinary in its mindset, and certainly development of sustainable systems requires input from all disciplines," Hirleman said. "Engineering is important, but that’s another tenet of ESW — we understand it is crucial to engage social scientists and natural scientists to deploy the best possible sustainable solutions."