By Dana Yamashita

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson has announced the launch of the new Rensselaer Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS).

In today’s world of climate change and increased energy use, systems that are both net-zero in energy use and climate resilient are needed more than ever. EBESS will link architectural design and engineering to create infrastructure that is both — using new materials, renewable energy systems, and sentient building platforms. Modeling integrated transportation, communications, and supply chain networks to build platforms, EBESS research will help strengthen human health and well-being.

“Universities are the crossroads for collaboration across disciplines, sectors, geographies, and generations,” President Jackson said. “An integrative approach is required to decarbonize the many interconnected systems of our daily lives.”

Dennis Shelden and Robert Karlicek, the heads of two prominent research centers at Rensselaer, will serve as co-directors of EBESS.

EBESS will integrate research across centers and schools, including the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE), which Shelden has led since last year, and the Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) Center, where Karlicek has served as director since 2010.

For over 10 years, CASE has been dedicated to innovation in sustainable architecture and the built environment. LESA is a graduated National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center dedicated to developing autonomous intelligent systems to address modern challenges in the connected environment.

EBESS is formed in partnership with Siemens, Lutron Electronics, the international architecture firms HKS and Perkins&Will, and the Brooklyn Law School. The New York City-based institute will use the most advanced digital technologies to drive decarbonization of urban environments at the systems level.

As an invited presenter at President Joe Biden’s virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, President Jackson emphasized the important role higher education will play in addressing the climate crisis.

“Universities, such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, are crucial in developing and incubating new technologies required for a net-zero world,” she said.