Building a sustainable future
A Message from the Dean
With escalating concerns about climate change and the need for green technologies, Western is focusing efforts on building a sustainable future with specializations in five, interconnected themes:
- Natural Resources
- Adaptation & Resilience
- Hazards, Risk & Remediation
- Energy Systems
Climate change is an important part of the discussion and in October 2013 we were honoured to welcome Lord Julian Hunt to campus to present a talk titled, “Meteorology and Climate Change, and Wind Engineering.”
Climate change is having impacts across the world. Evidence is accumulating that the threat is here now:
- 2012 was the warmest year on record in the USA, and one third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 38oC+ weather
- The 12 hottest years on record have come in the last 15 years
- Asthma rates have doubled in the past 30 years
- Floods, heat waves, wildfires and droughts are occurring with greater frequency and intensity
There are economic consequences as well. In 2012 there were 11 different weather and climate related disaster events that lead to estimated damages of $110B in the US alone.
Roads, bridges, and coastal areas must be adapted to these changes to safeguard people and property.
Bringing it closer to home, a recent study by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, an important partner of ours that links our researchers with the insurance industry, projects that for Southern Ontario the following will occur:
- the number of days with temperatures above 30oC will increase from an average of 20 (between 2000-2010) to 40 days per year and
- the decline in precipitation will increase from -1.5% per decade (1950-2007) to -5 to -10% per decade.
- the frequency of heavy rains, hours of freezing precipitation, and intensity of winter storms will increase by up to a factor of 2 in the coming decades.
At the same time, with increased awareness of the benefits of non-fossil based energy, we are seeing enormous opportunity with growth in renewable energy from sun and wind and improved building practices to reduce energy consumption for heating, cooling, lighting etc.
Wind to energy capacity has increased by 20 to 25 % per year for the last 10 years with nearly 45 GW of installed new wind power in 2012 and according to the Global Wind Energy Council, over 282 GW of installed capacity in the world.
Here at Western Engineering, we are focusing efforts on building a sustainable future with specializations in water engineering, environmental remediation, nanotechnology, natural disaster mitigation and management, power systems, biofuels and alternative energy systems.
Our research groups and institutes focusing on these areas include:
- Western’s Power Systems Engineering Group
- Particle Technology Research Centre (PTRC)
- Chemical Reactor Engineering Centre (CREC)
- Geotechnical Research Centre (GRC)
- Research for Subsurface Transport and Remediation (RESTORE)
- the Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources (ICFAR)
We have strong computational capability to model engineering infrastructure through our partnerships in SHARCNET – an interuniversity high performance computing consortium - and the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform, in partnership with IBM Canada.
Western Engineering is internationally recognized for wind engineering, with over 40 years of individual faculty expertise, groups and projects such as the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory (BLWTL), Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes and now Wind, Engineering, Energy and Environment (WindEEE) research project and facility.
WindEEE will be the nexus for many of our efforts relating to the research in understanding the relationships between our built infrastructure and our environment.
WindEEE has capabilities that are not only unique, but excite the imagination in how we can use the capabilities of this structure to understand and solve some of our most challenging problems.
Andrew N. Hrymak
Dean, Western Engineering