Welcome to the Sustainability Engineering Lab at The University of Toledo

Our current research program involves four areas:

Water infrastructure sustainability (Green infrastructure, water-energy nexus, solids management, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, constructed wetlands)
Energy sustainability (Thin film solar cells)
Food sustainability (Ecosystem services versus life cycle impacts of urban agriculture)
Education research (Project based learning, sustainability education, information literacy)

In our research we use modeling and analysis tools including life cycle assessment, carbon footprint analysis, geochemical modeling, fate and transport modeling, multi-criteria decision analysis, web based software design, uncertainty analysis, agent based modeling, and ecological design principles.

Prior research: Road sustainability (Recycled materials, pollution from roads, road hydrology)

News from Our Lab

Summer 2015: As of Summer of 2015, most of our lab news will be posted on our Tweet. We invite you to follow us on Twitter if you are interested in our activities.

March 2015:
Our lab receives funds to collaborate with Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in Spain. Jay and Robert have been Skyping biweekly with Anna and Violeta to focus the topic of our collaboration and to plan their one month visit in Barcelon this summer.
Screenshot of the Conference call.jpg
UT-UPC-UAB collaboration: biweekly skype calls.

March 2015:
Our paper on Energy Payback Times of PV systems is published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal. Congrats to Jenny for her hard work on this paper!

February 2015:
Jay Devkota publishes his manuscript, //Life Cycle Based Evaluation of Harvested Rainwater Use in Toilets and for Irrigation//, in the Journal of Cleaner Production! Nice work, Jay!

January 2015:
2015 welcoming lunch for new students joining the Sustainability Engineering Lab. Ilke Celik and Ashish Sharma join as PhD candidates, Henry Rodrigues joins as a MS student, and Bangyu Wang joins us as an undergraduate researcher.


December 2014:
Robert Phillips receives the University of Toledo College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Assistant award. Congratulations Robert!

September 2014:
Drs. Isaam Al-Khatib and Muath Abu Saad from the Birzeit University, Palestine visited Dr. Defne Apul’s research team, the Sustainability Engineering Research Lab, for three days to discuss potential collaborative efforts for research related to rainwater harvesting and water scarcity. Their visit is part of the PEER Grant that they received from NSF/USAID. The three-day visit consisted of presentations from the respective groups, outlining their research objectives and preliminary findings, tours of the University of Toledo’s on-campus best management practices and other sustainable initiatives, a visit to Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, and a tour of the local wastewater treatment plant.

Additionally, during their time at UT, Dr.s Isaam Al-Khatib and Muath Abu Saad met with the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders to discuss civil engineering problems in Palestine and the potential for projects and funding sources. The teams will be continuing their collaborative effort over the next several months to identify areas of synergy between the groups and prospective outcomes.
Robert, Jay, Dr. Apul, Dr. Abu Saad, and Dr. Al-Khatib at the welcome dinner at Toledo Docks.

Meeting with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Chapter of University of Toledo

Summer 2014:
Dr. Defne Apul’s team, the Sustainability Engineering Lab, recently supported two graduate students work at the University of Manchester with Dr. Adisa Azapagic’s team, the Sustainable Industrial Systems lab, through an international collaboration grant funded by the National Science Foundation. Jay Devkota (PhD) and Robert Phillips (MS) spent two months this summer (June-July) working closely with the Manchester team to further their research on sustainability evaluations of rainwater harvesting systems across regions and investigating the life cycle impacts from diffuse urban stormwater pollution, respectively. The two teams are continuing to work together to further their areas of research in the field of sustainable systems.
Jay, Robert, Dr. Apul and Dr. Burian with the Sustainable Industrial Systems group in the farewell dinner to Jay and Robert.

Jay and Robert with the Sustainable Industrial Systems Group at University of Manchester

August 2014: Our article on LCA of CZTS and Zn3P2 thin film cells is now published in Energy journal. Congratulations to Jenny and Susie for their hard work on this manuscript.

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May 2014: Dr. Apul receives the College of Engineering Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

January 16 2014: Our review article on composting toilets and our EEAST article are published in the Journal of Waste Management and in Journal of Environmental Management, respectively.

December 2013: Sustainability Engineering Lab member Dan Johnson receives the Ohio Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship. Congrats, Dan!

September 17, 2013: Jay Devkota presented his poster at the 2013 Ohio American Water Works Association.

September 12, 2013: Dr. Apul is awarded another National Science Foundation grant on infrastructure engineering.

September 2013: Jay Devkota passes his PhD qualifying exam. Congrats Jay!

September 2013: Sustainability Engineering Lab began collaborating with the Sustainable Industrial Systems Lab of Dr. Adisa Azapagic of University of Manchester, U.K.. Jay Devkota and Robert Phillips will be visiting Dr. Azapagic's group in Summer 2014. The funding for this collaboration is provided by NSF.

December 7, 2012:Dr. Apul's article on "Navigating the Academic Job Search for Environmental Engineers: Guidance for Job Seekers and Mentors" is published in Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. This article may be appealing and helpful to PhD students, postdocs, and their mentors.

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September 20, 2012: Sustainability Engineering Lab member Robert Phillips wins the best poster award at American Water Works Association (AWWA) Ohio Section's 74th Annual Conference in Dayton, OH. At the conference Robert presented his work on economic and environmental evaluation of rainwater harvesting systems using the EEAST model. Robert participated in the Undergraduate Summer Research and Creative Activity Program (USRCAP) of the University of Toledo as well as the Research to Practice Program of US Green Building Council (R2P2 USGBC). His AWWA Poster award comes with a $100 check. His award winning poster can be downloaded from here. Congrats Robert!

August 10, 2012: Dr. Apul is awarded two National Science Foundation grants, one on urban infrastructure sustainability and the other on solar energy sustainability.