Around 65 million homes in the USA could benefit from comprehensive upgrades to save energy. Serving these homes can decrease emissions, create jobs, stimulate local economies, and improve the health of indoor environments. However, marketing upgrades has proven difficult; households typically do not understand energy saving opportunities, are hesitant to take on financing to realize small net energy savings, and distrust programs and contractors.
Yes! Maybe it’s not strapping on heavy gear and dragging hose, but Molly Mowery (MCP 2008) argues that planners play an important role in shaping policies that reduce catastrophic wildfire incidents. Since writing her DUSP thesis on wildfire and development, Molly has been advocating for stronger links between planning decisions and wildfire risk. You can see her latest thoughts on this topic in this New York Times Room for Debate thread, “Does the Government Cause or Prevent Wildfires?”
Increasing energy efficiency is a popular notion. It garners support from environmentalists to economists to every person who pays a utility bill. But when it comes to retrofits, more homeowners are benefiting from energy efficiency than renters. Patrick Coleman (MCP 2011) thinks this a problem worth looking into.
Managing stormwater is tricky business in urban areas, where paved roads, rooftops, and parking lots keep water above ground rather than letting it soak naturally into soils, grasses, and other vegetation. Rain and snow runoff must be caught, channeled, and eventually discarded in “gray” infrastructure, such as curbs, gutters, storm drains, and sewers. All this effort and expense seems so unnecessary, when there are green ways to capture and use the water rather than funnel it away.
Large-scale real estate development in low-income neighborhoods is a major source of municipal-level conflict in the United States. One way developers and communities have tried to resolve these conflicts is through negotiating Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). In theory, these agreements are a great idea, but Rebecca Economos (MCP ’11) looked at five New York City-based case studies and found troubling results. She claims the ad-hoc nature of the negotiations leads to confusion and wildly different outcomes for different communities.
Bjorn Jensen (MCP ’10) came to some important conclusions when he looked at four brownfied-to-renewable energy projects. Three of these projects were successful, he says, despite the fact that they had significant (and typical) challenges, such as cleanup costs, liability risks, uncertainty, technical and legal complexity, and the need to coordinate multiple stakeholders. He found that these barriers were overcome through strong partnerships characterized by full cooperation among developers, property owners, regulators,
Many of the ills facing metropolitan areas, such as traffic congestion, strained public infrastructure, and regional inequality, are caused, in large part, by the negative impacts one community faces because of the decisions of another. For example, as a town far outside the urban core develops more housing, it may create more traffic for communities further in as commuters shuttle through to centers of employment or education. Without effective mechanisms for both horizontal (e.g. city to city) and vertical (e.g.
How Can We Manage Our Water Supplies in a Way That Protects the Fish AND Makes Sure We Have Enough Drinking Water?
Since January 2010, the Massachusetts Sustainable Water Management Initiative – a collaborative decision making process involving state agencies, water suppliers, and environmentalists – has worked to develop new water policies that address urbanization and its impact on natural ecosystems. The goal is to more sustainably balance water withdrawals and ecological water needs under the state’s Water Management Act.
Is There a Way to Promote Development in Coastal Areas of Costa Rica While Still Preserving the Natural Environment?
Costa Rica needs to pay attention to the rapid change that coastal regions have been undergoing as a result of tourism and real estate projects. Despite the economic benefits in terms of jobs and foreign investment, many have raised concerns over construction in high slopes, approval of projects without the necessary water and wastewater infrastructure, deforestation, and the displacement of the local population. Is there a way to promote development in coastal areas of Costa Rica while still preserving the natural environment and benefiting coastal communities in the long term?
Cities around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the need to prepare for climate-driven changes, including greater variability in temperature, precipitation, and natural disasters. However, since systematic studies have not been conducted, there is limited understanding of climate adaptation planning in cities. What is the status of adaptation planning globally, what approaches are cities taking to prepare for climate impacts, and what challenges do they face?