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Researchers awarded $3.7 million for research on sustainable development of Kuwait’s built environment

Grant sponsored through the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment
Integration of major thrusts of the proposed work for sustainability of the built environment in Kuwait.
Integration of major thrusts of the proposed work for sustainability of the built environment in Kuwait.

A team of MIT researchers spanning four MIT departments — architecture; civil and environmental engineering; earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences; and nuclear science and engineering — has been awarded a $3.76 million grant for a research project on sustainable development of Kuwait’s built environment.

The project is being funded through the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment (CNRE) by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and is expected to be collaborative with other academic and research institutions in Kuwait, which will be funded separately.

Oral Buyukozturk, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and principal investigator on the new project, says the research is designed to address three critical, interrelated areas:
  • Innovation in material design for sustainability: Nano-engineered construction materials for durability in aggressive environment in Kuwait, and designed to access superior material properties from sustainable raw material inputs;
  • Innovation in system design for sustainability: Ground motion modeling and structural monitoring for performance-based engineering and reliability; system design with advanced materials and energy efficiency;
  • Innovation in energy-based design for sustainability: Enhanced operational energy efficiency and life-cycle performance of buildings and neighborhoods in Kuwait.
This project is unique, Buyukozturk says, in that these core research areas are addressed under the same umbrella and studied in parallel, for the first time taking into consideration the interaction between them.

“This is an exciting time for research and innovation in built environment sustainability when the world’s physical infrastructure is deteriorating and energy resources are becoming scarce," Buyukozturk says. "Material innovations and creative structural system applications implementing durability, energy efficiency, and better life-cycle performance, combined with advanced sensor and monitoring technologies, are at the heart of this leadership effort with the objective to establish a science-based new paradigm in engineering design that can be used in Kuwait and the general Gulf region and exported throughout the world."

The CNRE — directed by Mujid Kazimi alongside associate director Jacopo Buongiorno, both of the Department of the Nuclear Science and Engineering — has recently initiated funding of several exploratory research projects at the seed level, and funding at the signature level for integrated large-scale research projects.

“This signature project is a unique opportunity to generate transformative and scalable technological solutions to a sustainable and energy efficient buildings for Kuwait and The Gulf states in general. With a number of mega projects being planned in that region of the world, the studies being addressed, therefore, cannot be more timely. Our efforts at the center are on-going to initiate more collaborative projects to tackle critical energy and environment related issues.” says Murad Abu-Khalaf, the executive director of CNRE.

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