SyracuseCoE hosted its annual celebration on February 7, 2024, featuring a Research and Technology Forum followed by a reception. This R&T forum featured the geospatial science research conducted by Dr. Peng Gao, along with an update on the development of a green design studio (GDS) at SyracuseCoE, presented by Dr. Lu Li.

Geospatial Science identifies and quantifies geographic patterns of features and objects in the real world. In this presentation, Dr. Peng Gao showcased three examples of his research on geospatial patterns and relationships in the City of Syracuse, including snowplow activity analysis, flood vulnerability determination, and 3D building visualization. By showing several recent studies on the relationship between urban built environment and socioeconomic issues, Dr. Gao highlighted some of the challenges facing urban studies in terms of built environment. He also discussed the potential of using geospatial analyses to connect the built environment, microclimate conditions, and socioeconomic development.

An Update on the Development of a Green Design Studio (GDS)โ€‹

Buildings significantly contribute to global energy consumption and carbon emissions, accounting for 40% of energy usage and 36% of carbon emissions. The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in buildings is critical for occupant health and comfort, but maintaining healthy and comfortable indoor environments often leads to increased energy consumption. With the growing need for energy-efficient buildings, parametric building performance simulation (BPS) tools are gaining popularity. However, most existing platforms are inadequate in balancing IEQ with energy efficiency. They require extensive computational resources, particularly at larger scales like community or urban levels, and necessitate a complex set of parameters, making them challenging for users. In her talk, Dr. Li discussed the development of a Green Design Studio (GDS) at SyracuseCoE. Using a modular-based, multi-scale approach, the GDS can offer an integrated platform for rapid assessment and visualization of IEQ, thermal comfort, and energy efficiency. Future avenues of this research could expand to the surrounding urban area, integrate net-zero energy urban design, and utilize GIS to conduct socioeconomic analysis.


Peng Gao, Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University

Dr. Peng Gao is a physical geographer, trained in fluvial geomorphology. He conducts research on river dynamics and environment changes, as well as geospatial-based urban studies. In the latter area of focus, his research uses geospatial techniques to understand urban resilience to the changing microclimate and the associated socioeconomic issues. His current research concentrates on revealing urban morphology in a 3D format. By determining a set of metrics characterizing 3D building structures within urban neighborhoods, he relates these metrics to a variety of municipal issues such as energy efficiency and social determinants of health. Dr. Gao currently teaches classes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and advanced GIS applications.

Lu Li, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University

Dr. Li received her Ph.D. in the Division of Environment and Sustainability from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2023. She holds an MS in Control Science and Engineering from China University of Geosciences and a BEng in Electrical Engineering and Automation from South China Agricultural University. She was also a visiting scholar at the Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at the University of California, Berkeley in 2022. Dr. Li has expertise in indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and energy efficiency modeling and control via CFD and machine learning algorithms.


Jianshun โ€œJensenโ€ Zhang, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Executive Director, SyracuseCoE and Syracuse University

Following the R&T Forum, SyracuseCoE held a reception at its LEED-certified headquarters. Attendees were able to tour the Modeling, Simulations, Visualization and Design Space, as well as learn more about the products that SyracuseCoE partner program members are developing, like M3 Innovation’s sports lighting solutions. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, partners and students who attended!

Photo credit: Kelly Chang

View the recording of Dr. Gao and Dr Li’s presentations below.