U Environmental Sustainability Program Receives NSF Funding

July 30, 2015

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Under the direction of U mechanical engineering professor Eric Pardyjak, associate professor Rob Stoll and assistant professor Amanda Smith, the project entitled, “UNS: Localized Distributed Power Generation: Economically Robust, Demand-Optimized Placement of Urban Energy Production Systems,” was recently awarded a NSF grant of $309,909.

There is a critical need for decision makers to have the tools that aid them in understanding and calculating the optimal distributed power generation for more sustainable cities. Factored in the equation is the understanding that each city or urban area has an unique environment. Some are surrounded by mountains, others deal with varying degrees of dry desert climates, and amid countless other scenarios we have cities dealing with very high humidity.

“We propose to develop an integrated building simulation and optimization framework for use in making decisions regarding placement of distributed power generation installation and its interaction with the surrounding built environment,” says Pardyjak.

Four U.S. cities have been selected as locations for these case studies to test the system. They represent a range of climate types and average electricity prices: Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Atlanta.

“The understanding gained from this project will guide utility companies and public utility planners in developing plans for expanding power generation in urban areas while reducing the investment risk associated with additional central generation capacity. Further, the knowledge gained from this project will help communities and developers in placing distributed power generation within existing groups of buildings in a way that provides an economic benefit to the power consumers,” adds Pardyjak.

To learn more about this and similarly related research, visit the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah is committed to providing students with broad-based, rigorous and progressive education. By combining state-of-the-art facilities with renowned faculty, the department provides an education that gives students the necessary skills to become the next generation of innovators.