Our problem-driven, collaborative research focuses broadly on urban resilience. Specific ongoing projects look at how resilience is conceptualized and operationalized in urban governance and planning, the different ways in which cities are planning for resilience to flooding and extreme heat in a changing climate, and the complexities of planning green infrastructure as a strategy to enhance social and ecological resilience. Below are some of the latest projects.
PURL members are part of a multi-institutional team, led by the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at ASU, that was awarded a $25 million five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to study extreme heat and related challenges across the rapidly expanding megaregion in Arizona that spans from the Mexican border to the Navajo Nation and includes Tucson, Metro Phoenix, and Flagstaff. We will be focusing on investigating solutions to these challenges and expanding some of our heat governance work throughout the region.
Funded by NOAA, this project developed and validated a generalizable methodology for assessing heat resilience planning and will make it widely available to all cities in the U.S. through a collaboration with the American Planning Association (APA). More specifically, we will adapt the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS) approach, originally developed for flood risk, to the unique challenges of extreme heat. The resulting Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard for Heat methodology will be validated by applying it in geographically diverse US cities.
Tempe Cool Kids, Cool Places, Cool Futures
As part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded project, our team and researchers at the University of Arizona applied our Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard for Heat to City of Tempe plans and held an interactive workshop with city officials, heat researchers, and youth council members in November 2022. We will continue to support the city as it works to update its plans.
Heat Governance and Planning for Extreme Heat
PURL members are active participants in the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research program, a long-term ecological research site that has been funded by NSF for 25 years, and recently renewed for another six years. CAP-LTER is one of two urban sites in the national network, and in the coming years the program will focus on "investigating how relationships between urban ecological infrastructure and human-environment interactions shape the structure and function of urban ecosystems."
Funded by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with researchers at Texas A&M University, the Resilience Planning Networks project assesses coordination across government agencies and stakeholders engaged in resilience planning and examines the influence of collaboration on the quality and consistency of city plans and their potential to mitigate vulnerability to flooding. By combining surveys, social network analysis, and the latest techniques in plan evaluation, this study provides insight into government structures and planning processes to address the long-term risk of coastal flooding. The study focuses on four coastal U.S. cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Baltimore, Maryland; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Seattle, Washington.
Equitable Green Infrastructure Planning
This project, led by former postdoc Fushcia Hoover, critically examines the rationale that cities provide for implementing green infrastructure and the criteria that they use to determine how green infrastructure gets sited. We coded 120 plans from 19 U.S. cities to reveal that cities claim many benefits of green infrastructure, that are not translated into siting criteria, and equity is not a focus of siting. We make recommendations for centering justice in green infrastructure planning.
Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development in Phoenix
Led by the Nature Conservancy and US Bureau of Reclamation, with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, and US Geological Survey serving as partners, the “Identifying Key areas in the City of Phoenix for Infiltration and Retention Using Low Impact Development” study focuses on assessing the benefits of LID for stormwater management, water quality, reducing urban heat, and improving air quality in Phoenix. Our contribution to the project includes a literature review of green infrastructure performance in arid environments, and two masters student applied projects modeling urban heat and air quality benefits of different hypothetical LID scenarios developed by the project team.
Evaluating state policies encouraging the integration of hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation planning
Funded by a National Science Foundation INTERN grant, this project led by PhD student Philip Gilbertson focuses on a new policy in California mandating local climate change adaptation and resilience planning. With California being the first US state to implement such a policy, the project will provide critical insights into the mandate's effectiveness and a better understanding of how local governments integrate climate change adaptation into existing planning frameworks.