Fostering innovative environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable projects that tackle global food, water and energy scarcity.
We face numerous global challenges as factors such as population growth, technological advancement, climate change place increasing pressure on our natural resources. Food insecurity is widespread with 800 million considered undernourished. Almost one-fifth of the world's population live in areas of physical water scarcity. An estimated 1.2 billion people lack adequate access to electricity and 1.5 million people prematurely die each year due to exposure air pollutants from burning solid fuels. The conversion of forests for subsistence agriculture exacerbates climate change as do greenhouse gas emissions from solid fuel use. These challenges are often interrelated and Sustainability Without Borders works across disciplines to develop sustainable solutions.
The Campus Incubator fosters research and coordinates with SWB Project Teams to design, construct, and test prototypes. The team strives to develop technologies that utilize renewable energy and draw on principles of industrial symbiosis to reduce waste.
SWB technologies are developed with community needs in mind, and involve sourcing low cost and locally available materials in order to ensure replicability abroad. Small scale aquaponics systems, biosand water filters and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) desalinization plant prototypes have all been developed and refined on campus before being implemented in the field. Currently, SWB is researching the use of gasifiers to create systems of industrial symbiosis on smallholder farms.
While the majority of SWB's projects are abroad, the organization is also researching the feasibility of large-scale aquaponics systems to address the urban socio-economic issue of food scarcity that plagues low-income urban environments like Detroit.
The Campus Incubator aims to advance sustainable development by designing, testing, and implementing low cost prototypes that can be implemented throughout the world. By developing these sustainable technologies on campus, SWB seeks to use them as a powerful teaching tool for the next generation of scholars and practitioners.
By circulating water to produce fish and vegetables year round, the aquaponics system improves food security in a water efficient manner.
The gasifier uses waste from crops to create heat, energy, and biochar. The heat can be directly used or transformed into energy reducing the demand for solid fuels. The byproduct, biochar, can be used as a fertilizer to improve crop yields.