Scott Institute to host event about energy, water, smart cities

The relationship between sustainable urbanization, energy and water runs deep, and one cannot be discussed without invoking the others. A sustainable city is one that considers its intake of resources and expulsion of waste with respect to the environment; a smart city is one that uses technology to achieve this description. At the forefront of energy and sustainability research is the Wilton E. Scott Institute of Energy at Carnegie Mellon, which will be hosting an event on Feb. 16 called Building a Smart and Resilient City: The Energy-Water Nexus. A part of a larger program called Resilient Pittsburgh, this event aims to highlight the interconnection between energy and water.

The keynote speaker is the deputy director of the Energy Institute and professor at the University of Texas, Dr. Michael Webber. Webber has been instrumental in promoting the energy-water discussion. His book “Thirst for Power: Energy, Water, and Human Survival” highlights the intimate relationship between those two resources. Webber will speak for about half an hour. The event includes six other panelists whose roles range from mayor to CEO.

Anna Siefken, the Scott Institute associate director for innovation and strategic partnerships, is central to the planning for this event. Siefken stressed the synergy between energy and many other aspects of a sustainable city: “Energy and infrastructure, energy and transportation; they are all interconnected things, but the energy that powers them is an important aspect.” She also emphasized that the Scott Institute’s role “is to be a voice and connect people with information.”

This event does just that, providing the Carnegie Mellon community with access to the great minds at the forefront of urban planning, energy production and water conservation.

This event also gears students towards thinking about energy’s role in their future fields of work. Siefken wants “students who leave to know that there’s a role for them and that sustainability, in any position they have, can have an impact.” Carnegie Mellon complements its rounded education with events like this.

The Scott Institute, and Carnegie Mellon as a whole, has supported Pittsburgh’s drive for sustainability. “There is a partnership between the university community and the city of Pittsburgh,” says Siefken. In fact, Carnegie Mellon’s efforts to transform Pittsburgh into a smart city have already began to take effect, and can be seen in projects like Metro21 and Traffic21.

Pittsburgh may serve as an example of the promise American cities have to transform their energy and water demands for a safer environment. Tracey Greenstein of Fobres describes Pittsburgh as “a hub for sustainable design, green technology” and “a shining example for how the rest of the country should operate.” By uniting several leaders in the field of energy, this event initializes that process.

Organizers of the Energy-Water Nexus event expect to accommodate about 400 guests for an hour and a half. Half the spaces are already gone, so all those interested should quickly register on its Eventbrite page. It is an ample opportunity for students to understand the future roles of energy and water.