Contact Us  |  Search:  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us STS Roundtable Sustainability Across The Academies
Quick Links


Download a description of our program

Upcoming Events

View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Recent Events

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
January 30-21, 2018, Washington, DC

Symposium at the National Council for Science and the Environment Conference

January 23, 2018 Arlington, VA

The Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)
October 26, 2017 Washington, DC



January 2013

Table of Contents


We are pleased to present you with Sustainability at the National Academies, a monthly update highlighting activities related to sustainable development from throughout the National Academies. Please visit our website for additional information on these and other activities at

The Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability  provides a unique forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to sustainability. The goal for the Roundtable is to mobilize, encourage, and use scientific knowledge and technology to help achieve sustainability goals and to support the implementation of sustainability practices. Through its activities, the Roundtable identifies new ways in which science and technology can contribute to sustainability. What follows is a brief summary of sustainability-related activities being conducted throughout the National Academies.

You are receiving this update based on your participation in ongoing or past activities of the Roundtable. If you would prefer not to receive future monthly updates or would like to be added to the recipient list, please contact Dylan Richmond at 202-334-2489 or or visit our website. 

Return to top of page


Global Grand Challenges Short Video Competition
The National Academy of Engineering, in conjunction with the Global Grand Challenges Summit, is running a short video competition for 18-27 year olds. This short video competition is calling for creative entrants to produce a video highlighting the importance of engineering and how engineers can collaborate with other professions to solve (a) one of the challenges articulated by the National Academy of Engineering in its  NAE Grand Challenges for EngineeringTM  program or (b) a challenge within one of the related Summit themes: Sustainability, Education, Enriching Life, Technology and Growth, Resilience. The deadline for submissions is February 3, 2013.

D.C. Climate and Urban Systems Partnership Workshop
The Climate and Urban Systems Partnerships (CUSP) brings climate change close to home by highlighting the connection between climate change, city systems, and the activities Washingtonians are passionate about. The Koshland Science Museum will host a workshop March 12, 2013, on climate change and climate change education. Applications to attend the workshop are due February 13.

Return to top of page


Pathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Houston Metropolitan Region: Summary of a Workshop
The National Academies' Science and Technology for Sustainability Program organized a public workshop to examine issues relating to sustainability and human-environment interactions in the Houston metropolitan region held in January 2012.  The workshop featured invited presentations and group discussion and was patterned after similar workshops held in 2009 on  research and development on urban systems and in 2010 on  urban sustainability in the Atlanta metropolitan region. This workshop summary addresses themes that arose from the meeting, including energy and air quality management, hazard mitigation, and land use considerations.


Opportunities and Obstacles in Large-Scale Biomass Utilization: 

The Role of the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Communities: A Workshop Summary


Based on a one-day public workshop held in Washington, DC, this workshop summary  explores the current state of biomass utilization for bulk-production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. The discussion focused on the chemistry and chemical engineering opportunities to meet the aforementioned objectives. Both formal presentations and breakout working groups were components of the workshop in an effort to stimulate engaging discussion among participants from widely varying fields.

Review of the Research Program of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership: Fourth Report
This report follows on three previous NRC reviews of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, which was the predecessor of the U.S. DRIVE Partnership (NRC, 2005, 2008a, 2010). The U.S. DRIVE (Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle Efficiency and Energy Sustainability) vision, according to the charter of the Partnership, is this: American consumers have a broad range of affordable personal transportation choices that reduce petroleum consumption and significantly reduce harmful emissions from the transportation sector. Its mission is as follows: accelerate the development of pre-competitive and innovative technologies to enable a full range of efficient and clean advanced light-duty vehicles (LDVs), as well as related energy infrastructure. The Partnership focuses on precompetitive research and development (R&D) that can help to accelerate the emergence of advanced technologies to be commercialization-feasible.



An Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's Marine and Hydrokinetic Resource Assessments
Increasing renewable energy development, both within the United States and abroad, has rekindled interest in the potential for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) resources to contribute to electricity generation. These resources derive from ocean tides, waves, and currents; temperature gradients in the ocean; and free-flowing rivers and streams. One measure of the interest in the possible use of these resources for electricity generation is the increasing number of permits that have been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, most of these permits are for developments along the Mississippi River, and the actual benefit realized from all MHK resources is extremely small.This report focuses on the findings and conclusions regarding a conceptual framework for developing the resource assessments, the aggregation of results into a single number, and the consistency across and coordination between the individual resource assessments.

Assessment of Advanced Solid State Lighting
While upfront cost is the biggest obstacle to widespread deployment of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, warm and cool white LEDs are already cheaper on a lifecycle basis than incandescent lighting and will likely be comparable to that of fluorescent lighting technologies in the near future, says a congressionally requested report from the National Research Council. The report assesses the status of solid state lighting -- LEDs in particular, as opposed to incandescent or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) -- and finds that lighting products based on LEDs will be able to support the standards for lumen output that Congress required in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Return to top of page


Regional Approaches to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Portland Region 
An ad hoc committee under the STS Program will organize a public workshop in March 2013 to examine issues relating to sustainability and human-environment interactions in the Portland metropolitan region. Likely topics that will be addressed include: the role of land use restrictions on development; transportation innovations and economic and social challenges. The committee will develop an agenda in consultation with regional stakeholders (academia, city/county governments), so that the presentations and panels reflect place-based knowledge and approaches to sustainability. The workshop will feature invited presentations and group discussion, and will likely be patterned after similar workshops that were held in Atlanta and Houston. 

Return to top of page


Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government
An ad hoc committee under the STS Program will identify the linkages among areas such as energy, water, health, agricultural production, and biodiversity that are critical to promoting and encouraging long term sustainability within the federal policy framework, recognizing that progress towards sustainability necessarily involves other levels of government, the private sector, and civil society. The premise is that achieving sustainability is a systems challenge that cannot be realized by separately optimizing pieces of the system. The study will build upon existing and emerging expertise throughout the scientific and technological communities. It will describe the nexus where domains intersect but in which existing institutions and disciplines often do not intersect. A consensus report is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2013.

Symposium on Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions  
An ad hoc committee under the STS Program held a three day public symposium, May 16-18, 2012, on fostering partnerships and linkages between disciplines, sectors, agencies and nations in sustainability science and innovation. The symposium featured invited presentations and discussions to showcase federal investments and institutional structures regarding sustainability, identify opportunities to help promote practices that would lead communities toward sustainability, and address communication issues needed to recognize science and innovation as central to the understanding and adoption of sustainable practices.   Video of the sessions, PowerPoint presentations , and the symposium summary are available on the STS website. Dissemination activities are being planned for early 2013.


Sustainability and the U.S. EPA
An ad hoc committeee under the STS program has authored a consensus report, released in August 2011, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to help define their efforts to incorporate sustainability concepts into agency programs. This report builds on existing sustainability efforts that ORD has conducted by strengthening the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection within the Agency's decision-making process. Dissemination activities are being planned for 2013.

Return to top of page


February 2013
Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and its Impacts
February 3-4, 2013, Los Angeles, CA
Responding to Oil Spills in Arctic Marine Environments
February 4-5, 2013, Chicago, IL
Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants
February 7, 2013, Washington, DC
Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles - Phase 2
February 12-13, 2013, Ann Arbor, MI
Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle (Eighth Revised Edition)
February 25-26, 2013, Washington, DC
Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda
February 25-26, 2013, Washington, DC

Return to top of page


PNAS Sustainability Science, Special Features
PNAS offers a series of special feature issues that highlight emerging fields in the physical, social, and biological sciences and are edited by leaders in the field. Special Features include a cluster of Perspectives and peer-reviewed research articles. As a service to readers, Special Features are freely available online from the date of publication. 

From the January 2013 issue:

To learn more about sustainability activities, both in the STS program and throughout the other boards and committees of the National Academies, please visit our webpage at:

Preparation of this update was supported by the National Academies' George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science

Return to top of page

Send questions or comments to
Copyright © 2013. National Academies.
500 Fifth Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20001.
Privacy Statement