Faculty Research

GW faculty and the programs and institutes they lead continue to be the sustainability stars on GW’s campus. Through our faculty’s provocative research and challenging courses, they provide insight and knowledge to both students and local and global partners, in and out of the classroom. This report only touches on the accomplishments of GW faculty researchers and instructors. Their work is deep and vast, and it is impacting areas ranging from urban sustainability to energy law and from engineering to public health to corporate responsibility.

Duke Energy Renewables Innovation Fund 

The 2014 Power Purchase Agreement between George Washington University (GW) and Duke Energy Renewables, Inc. (DER) was a pioneering agreement, demonstrating an important way in which universities and private corporations can constructively partner to advance sustainability. The innovative arrangement provides GW with one half of its electricity consumption from solar power. To build on this positive experience, GW and DER are now leveraging the world-class expertise of GW faculty with the innovative spirit and business acumen of DER to advance research in sustainability. To this end, GW and DER have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Duke Energy Renewables Innovation Fund.  Each year, about $85,000 in research funding is available to support research on topics related to energy, including those that affect the climate, water, food, and cities either directly or indirectly. Read GW coverage of 2017 winners and 2016 winners

The application period for 2019 is now open. The projects should focus on energy research in some way. All energy topics are possible, including those that affect the climate, water, food, and cities either directly or indirectly. Faculty are encouraged to contact Sustainable GW Research Director Robert Orttung ([email protected]) to discuss possible proposal topics to be sure that they are appropriate for this competition. The interdisciplinary team projects may include the assistance of GW students and staff, and other collaborators from outside the university, as appropriate. Read more by downloading the document below.

Download the details to apply

Interdisciplinary Research

Sustainable GW serves as a convener, bringing together faculty from across different schools and departments to conduct interdisciplinary research that leverages expertise from different angles of a sustainability topic. Currently, cohorts are forming around natural disaster preparedness and response, electric vehicles, and using energy to build equity in the greater D.C. metropolitan area. To connect with those cohorts or to propose an additional interdisciplinary research question, contact Sustainability Research Director Dr. Robert Orttung at [email protected].


Sustainable GW Lunch Series

Lessons for Resilience Policy and Planning in DC, PR, and AK Thursdays 12-1pm


Collaborators from across GW are working with the founders of the RISE Network to explore resilience in light of global change in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Alaska, all of which are isolated, under-resourced, and/or federally disenfranchised communities. The webinar series will provide an opportunity to discuss how communities in these locations are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, and what we can learn to address root cause issues and prepare for future global change. The group has begun to explore common experiences, themes, frameworks, and policy implications across these locations. 


Please join us for live discussions in this three-part webinar series. 


April 16, 2020


Jim Powell, University of Alaska, Southeast

Sean Asiqtuq Topkok, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Bob Orttung, GW

View the Recording


April 30, 2020

Washington, D.C.

Harrison Newton, Milken Institute School of Public Health, GW

Kathleen Fox, GW

Meghan Chapple, Office of Sustainability, GW

View the Recording


May 7, 2020 

Puerto Rico

“Decoupling Disasters: What can we learn from Puerto Rico’s Sequential and Cumulative Experience With PROMESA, Hurricane Maria, Earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cecilio Ortiz-Garcia, PhD 

Marla Perez-Lugo, PhD

View the Recording