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.

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.

The Green Infrastructure Spatial Planning (GISP) model provides a stakeholder-driven methodology for identifying priority areas where multiple social and environmental co-benefits of green infrastructure are needed and for assessing tradeoffs and synergies between benefits. The GISP model is made up of six GIS layers corresponding to planning priorities (stormwater management, social vulnerability, access to green space, air quality, the urban heat island effect, and landscape connectivity). Individual criteria are mapped and spatial tradeoffs and synergies assessed. For the Detroit model, the six criteria are weighted based on local stakeholders' priorities. For New York City, Los Angeles, and Manila, a more interactive online app allows the user to set the criteria weights based on their own priorities and visualize the weighted and combined results.

Heat Governance and Planning for Extreme Heat

This project, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona, seeks to establish the current state of extreme heat planning research and practice across the US. Extreme heat is already the deadliest climate hazard and risks are increasing in cities nationwide due to climate change and the urban heat island effect, yet extreme heat governance is underdeveloped. We completed a systematic literature review of extreme heat planning and conducted a national survey of planning professionals to assess heat risk perceptions, current planning activities, and barriers to action. We are also developing professional guidance for planners on addressing urban heat with the American Planning Association.

Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard for Heat

Funded by NOAA, this project will develop and validate 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 (PIRSH) methodology will be validated by applying it in geographically diverse US cities.

Equitable Green Infrastructure Planning

This project, led by 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.