PhD Economics, University of California - Santa Barbara 1988
BS Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky 1981
I conduct applied economic research on a wide range
of environmental, energy, and natural resource issues. Most of my work has a
strong policy focus. Currently, I work primarily on issues related to urban
sustainability and resilience. With 80% of the U.S. population and 50% of the world’s
population living in urban areas, percentages that have steadily risen over the
past several decades, addressing environmental concerns in urban areas is of paramount
concern. Moreover, climate change is posing difficult challenges related to resilience of urban areas to weather extremes and sea level rose. My research focuses on four specific areas: land use, ecosystem services, climate
resilience, and building energy use.
My work on land use has examined suburban
development patterns and the impacts of zoning and other land use policies,
including transfer of development rights (TDRs). I have worked with colleagues
to develop a new spatial simulation land use model that integrates economics
with techniques developed by geographers and land use scientists. With funding
from NSF, we are adapting the model to represent land use in coastal areas for
the purpose of assessing policies to improve coastal “resilience,” i.e., the
ability of communities to withstand and adapt to extreme weather events.
Ecosystem services are fundamentally tied to land
use. My research looks at how investments in natural (or green) infrastructure, natural
areas such as wetlands, forests, and other open space, can provide ecosystem
services such as flood protection and water quality improvements. I also have
examined the recreational value of these natural lands and conduct related
research on how best to finance parks and conservation lands. In current research, I am working with an engineer to assess the ability of wetlands to attenuate storm surge and the value of that important service.
Cities are increasingly concerned about their
carbon footprints, and buildings are an important component of that footprint
(up to 80% by some estimates). Some experts see an energy efficiency “gap” in
buildings—cost-effective improvements that could be made to lower energy use
but are not. My work is focused on the role of information provision in closing
this gap. Recent research is focusing on how home energy audits might fill this gap in residential buildings and the potential of commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure programs, adopted in an increasing number of cities.