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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Oregon Eugene
  • Krista McGuire
  • (541) 914-6277
Award Date:11/17/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 8,089
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 8,088
  • FY 2013=$8,088
Start Date:11/01/2017
End Date:08/31/2018
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Coastal SEES (Track 2), Collaborative: Developing High Performance Green Infrastructure Systems to Sustain Coastal Cities
Federal Award ID Number:1802394
DUNS ID:079289626
Parent DUNS ID:049793995
Program:SEES Coastal
Program Officer:
  • Richard Fragaszy
  • (703) 292-7011

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Oregon
Street:5289 University of Oregon
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

Discharge of wastewater, sewerage and runoff from coastal cities remains the dominant sources of coastal zone pollution. The impervious nature of modern cities is only exacerbating this problem by increasing runoff from city surfaces, triggering combined sewer overflow events in cities with single-pipe wastewater conveyance systems and intensifying urban flooding. Many coastal cities, including US cities like Seattle, New York and San Francisco, are turning to urban green infrastructure (GI) to mitigate the city's role in coastal zone pollution. Urban GI, such as green roofs, green streets, advanced street-tree pits, rainwater gardens and bio-swales, introduce vegetation and perviousness back into city landscapes, thereby reducing the volume and pollutant loading of urban runoff. Urban GI, however, also has co-benefits that are equally important to coastal city sustainability. For example, increasing vegetation and perviousness within city boundaries can help cool urban environments, trap harmful air-borne particulates, increase biodiversity and promote public health and well-being. Despite the significance of these co-benefits, most current urban GI programs still focus on achieving volume reduction of storm water through passive detention and retention of rainfall or runoff. Holistic approaches to GI design that consider multiple sustainability goals are rare, and real time monitoring and active control systems that help ensure individual or networked GI meet performance goals over desired time-scales are lacking. Furthermore, how city inhabitants view, interact with, and value GI is little studied or accounted for in current urban GI programs. This project will develop and test a new framework for the next generation of urban GI that exploits the multi-functionality of GI for coastal city sustainability, builds a platform for real-time monitoring and control of urban GI networks, and takes account of the role of humans in GI stewardship and long-term functionality. The project will use the Bronx River Sewershed in New York City, where a $20 million investment in GI is planed over the next 5-years, as its living test bed. GI has its roots in several disciplines, and the project brings together expertise from these disciplines, including civil and environmental engineering, environmental science, and plant science/ horticulture. In addition, the project integrates expertise from other disciplines needed to elevate GI performance to the next level, including urban planning and design, climate science, data science, environmental microbiology, environmental law and policy, inter-agency coordination, community outreach and citizen science. The specific outcomes of the project will include: (i) new, scientific data on the holistic, environmental performance of different GI interventions in an urban, coastal environment; (ii) new models for the system level performance of networks of GI interventions; (iii) methodologies for projecting GI performance under a changing climate; (iv) a platform for remote monitoring and control of GI; (v) proposals for law and policy changes to enable US coastal cities to introduce GI at scales necessary to meet sustainability goals, and (vi) new understanding of human-GI interactions and their role in the long-term performance and maintenance of urban GI. Engagement with schools in the Bronx River Sewershed and engagement of citizens in the GI performance monitoring are both important components of the project work. The interdisciplinary project team integrates academic expertise with expertise in industry, government and non-profit organizations.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Thompson, L.R., Sanders, J., McDonald, D., Amir, A., Ladau, J., Locey, K., Prill, J., Tripathi, A., Gibbons, S., Ackerman, G., Navas-Molina-Navas, J., Janssen, S., Kopylova, E., Vásquez-Baeza, Y., González, A., Morton, J., Mirareb, S., Xu, Z., Jiang, L., "A communal catalogue reveals Earth?s multiscale microbial diversity" Nature, v.551, 2017, p.457. doi:10.1038/nature24621 

Gill, A.S., Lee, A., McGuire, K.L. "Phylogenetic and functional diversity of total (DNA) and active (RNA) bacterial communities in urban green infrastructure bioswale soils" Applied and Environment Microbiology, v.83, 2017, p.e00287. doi:10.1128/AEM.00287-17 

Reese, A.T., Savage, A., Youngsteadt, E., McGuire, K.L., Koling, A., Watkins, O., Frank, S.D., Dunn, R.R. "Urban stress is associated with variation in microbial species composition-but not richness-in Manhattan" The ISME Journal, v.10, 2016, p.751. doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.152 

Charlop-Powers, Z., Pregitzer, C., Lemetre, C., Ternei, M., Maniko, J., Hover, B., Calle, P., McGuire, K.L., Garbarino, J., Progione, H., Charlop-Powers, S., Brady, S. "Urban park soil microbiomes represent a rich reservoir of natural product biosynthetic diversity" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v.113, 2016, p.14811. doi:10.1073/pnas.1615581113 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Green infrastructure, or any vegetated area in an urban environment, provides many benefits to society such as decreasing storm water runoff and the reducing the urban heat island effect. Despite their importance in creating more sustainable cities, the ecology of these systems is poorly known, especially with regard to the role of microbes in soils and growing media in green infrastructure installations. Microbes are the most diverse and abundant organisms on the planet, and influence plant health, plant tolerance to stress, and plant uptake of nutrients. Therefore, they have high potential for being integral to green infrastructure performance and longevity. This project explored how the soil microbiome of various green infrastructure types (tree pits, bioswales, parks, medians, green roofs) were structured and how they functioned in cycling nutrients, including pollutants. By conducting multi-year surveys and experiments, we found several key findings from this research. First, each type of green infrastructure had a unique and diverse community of microbes, and their distributions could be predicted using ecological principles. The types of plants in each green infrastructure type also determined which microbes were present, and native plant communities had more diverse, abundant, and active microbial communities. We also found that the dominant microbes in green infrastructure soils and growing media were likely involved in helping plants tolerate stress and many could actively degrade organic contaminants from the environment. Finally, following a seven-year survey of how microbes on green roofs assembled, we found that after three years the community was stable and functioned to enhance plant survival in these stressful rooftop environments. These findings will aid in choosing which plants to add to a given type of green infrastructure to select for particular plant-microbial assemblages so that multifunctional benefits can be realized for these engineered systems. This research was also integrated into experiential research activities for high school students and undergraduates, and supported the training of several underrepresented minority students.


Last Modified: 11/27/2018
Modified by: Krista Mcguire

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