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Urban Ecology and Restoration

Center of Economic Excellence



Award Amount

$2 million

External Funding Above Match

$6.8 million

Research Focus

Generating scholarship by building collaborations in applied ecology and environmental science, habitat ecology and restoration, wetland and watershed management; conservation biology; private-public networks for conservation; payments for ecosystem services; urban ecology; environmental education; and by developing careers of young scientists and educators.

University Partner

Clemson University

Private Sector Partner

Multiple Industry Partners

The Urban Ecology and Restoration Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute supports the growth of the state’s environmental industry and attracts world-renowned faculty in restoration development, businesses and students. This Center is unique for its interdisciplinary, integrative approach to the restoration of historic, ecological, and urban infrastructure resources through the integration of basic science, engineering and urban planning.

Some examples of this Center’s work include using biologically derived materials to filter toxins from polluted soil; developing recycled building materials, designing roads and parking lots using pervious pavement that allows rainwater to seep into the ground, reducing storm water runoff, and creating better ways to propagate, install, and maintain native plant species in urban settings.

  • The Center has initiated four multidisciplinary urban ecology projects in the state:
  • Restoration of a degraded urban stream in Aiken
  • A study project for the City of Aiken regarding urban storm water management
  • A community-based environmental restoration of low-income North Charleston neighborhoods
  • Research of rapid transportation, including light rail, for a congested travel corridor in urban Greenville

More than 75 Clemson faculty members and students in areas such as wetland ecology, hydrology, landscape architecture, computer sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and environmental toxicology are working together on Clemson’s largest interdisciplinary project entitled Intelligent River. The Intelligent River Project focuses on the development of hardware, software, and modeling infrastructure to support real-time management of water resources across the state.

The Center was instrumental in Clemson’s award of a 2008 Center in Watershed Management by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is the third such designated center in the Southeast and the first center in the nation focused on using remotely sensed monitoring data. The Center, in conjunction with Clemson’s Restoration Institute, sponsored the first annual South Carolina Water Resources Conference in October 2008, which was attended by over 350 participants. Of the 350 attendees, roughly one-third represented commercial or consultant entities.

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