USC Center for Sustainable Cities

Improving cities through research, education, and community outreach


Current Research Projects

PI Title Funding
H. Blanco
(Co-PI: Dan Wei)
A Groundwater Strategy for Southern California Dec. 2013 – Nov. 2015. Haynes Foundation, $225,000
Dan Wei Macroeconomic Impacts of Climate Action Planning in China and Mexico Center for Climate Strategies (CCS). July 2012 – June 2014. $63,000
A. Rose Mini Grant Between Center for Climate Strategies and USC Center for Climate Strategies, Inc. $155,000
A. Rose
(Co-PI: Dan Wei)
The Area of Energy and Climate Change: Policy in China Center for Climate Strategies, Inc. $14,000
A. Rose
(Co-PI: Dan Wei)
Climate Change Policy Analysis Center for Climate Strategies, Inc. $15,000

Completed Research Projects

PI Title Funding
H. Blanco
Co-PI (P.I.: G. Guiliano, Co-PI: D. Bahl)
Promoting Employment in Transit Construction Projects by Members of Minority and Low Income Communities. 2008-2013. Office of Civil Rights, Federal Transit Administration. $1M
H. Blanco Institutional Constraints and Options for California’s Adaptation to Sea Level Rise Bedrosian Center. 2012-2013. $10,000.
G. Giuliano
(Co-PI: H. Blanco)
Initiative on Cities and Climate Change HSBC $260,000
Den Wei Economic Impact Analysis of Sea Level Rise for the City of Los Angeles USC Sea Grant. February 2012-January 2013. $11,460
Den Wei
Co- Investigator
Total Regional Economic Losses from Water Supply Disruptions: Analysis for Los Angeles County Woodbury University (coordinating funding from LADWP, MWD and other local water agencies). May 2012-August 2012. $52,404
Den Wei
Macroeconomic Impacts of Climate Action Planning CCS. July 2011-June 2012. $89,500
H. Blanco
(Co-PIs: J. Newell, L. Stott, M. Alberti)
Water Scarcity in Southern California Haynes Foundation $217,000
H. Blanco
(Co-PI: G. Giuliano)
Towards Evidence-based Sustainable Communities Urban Institute $54,000
H. Blanco
(Co-PI: J. Newell)
Comparative urban-scale greenhouse gas inventories: Beijing and Los Angeles USC U.S.-China Institute $12,000
H. Blanco
(Co-PIs: L. Stott; G. Giuliano)
Urban Climate Change Adaptation Collaborative USC. Zumberge Fund Innovative Research Award $10,000
J. Newell, M Rahimi Moving Containers Efficiently and with less impact METRANS Transportation Center
J. Newell, R. Voss Carbon Footprint of Paper Products Clean Agency, Inc.
J. Wolch, J. Newell “Back Alley LA: Transforming Nuisance Alleys Into Green Infrastructure for Los Angeles” Haynes Foundation, $225,000

Research Abstracts

Comparative Greenhouse Gas Inventories for Urban Areas: Beijing and Los Angeles Metropolitan Areas

Team: H. Blanco, J. Newell
Funding: HSBC, USC U.S.-China Institute

GHG inventory methods have been developed for urban areas, but our initial research indicates these methodologies differ significantly depending on their assumptions about scale and scope. There are no universally accepted protocols for conducting inventories at the urban scale. In general, there are deep divisions among major nations, in particular, the U.S. and China, on how to inventory, monitor and mitigate GHGs . With support from USC’s US-China Institute, Profs. Blanco and Newell will develop a collaboration between researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing and USC to begin to reach consensus on appropriate methods for conducting GHG inventories at the metropolitan scale. This initial research on “Comparative Urban-scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories” aims to develop methodologies and inventories for the Los Angeles and the Beijing metropolitan areas to act as the foundation for climate change action plans for these two major metropolitan areas. This collaboration will involve two workshops, one in Tsinghua and one at USC during this coming year to address issues of data availability and to assess the inventory methods available. During the spring of 2011, we will develop a major proposal for joint or separate funding to carry out the inventories and begin the climate change plans.

USC Research Collaboration on Urban Climate Change Adaptation

Team: H. Blanco, G. Giuliano
Funding: HSBC, USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund

In spring of 2010, to incorporate more faculty in research on climate change adaptation, Profs. Blanco, Giuliano and Stott (Earth Sciences) prepared a proposal to the USC Research Collaboration Fund. The proposal aims to bring together faculty from throughout USC to address research questions related to climate change adaptation in urban areas. Major opportunities for multi-disciplinary research include: downscaling global climate models to regional-scale urban area, metropolitan and mega-city-regions; the impacts of climate change on the built environment and infrastructures; the effects of climate change on the health of humans and biota in urban environments; risk, vulnerability, and resilience; adaptation policy; complex modeling; and urban planning. We obtained commitments from over a dozen faculty working in relevant fields throughout the University who are interested in collaborating on these topics. The collaborative grant would provide support for ongoing monthly seminars and for the preparation of large grant proposals to NSF and other funders.

Water Scarcity in Southern California

Team: H. Blanco, J. Newell, L. Stott, M. Alberti (U. of Washington)
Funding: HSBC, Haynes Foundation

The HSBC grant also enabled us to undertake the initial research to obtain funding from the Haynes Foundation for a two-year study of a key impact of climate change in Southern California–increasing water scarcity. Profs. Blanco and the research team will study urban water districts in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The research will first establish the effectiveness of recent strategies that water districts have developed to deal with water supply scarcity during this past decade in Southern California. Then, it will assess the extent to which innovative strategies can address, if expanded, greater water scarcity anticipated under climate change. CSC will develop water scarcity scenarios through a stakeholder involvement process.. To assess how these strategies are working, we will study the water districts of Orange County, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. These local water districts have implemented many water conservation strategies and a range of strategies to increase water supply. The three cases will enable us to study institutional, demographic/economic, land use, natural and infrastructure factors that shape the plans, and to assess the potential of the strategies used to maintain reliable water supplies in the face of growing scarcity. We propose to conduct a comparative cost-effectiveness analysis of the strategies that will include, in addition to the financial costs, the energy use and the resulting greenhouse gas emission costs of the strategies.

Towards Evidence-Based Sustainable Communities

Team: H. Blanco, G. Giuliano
Funding: HSBC, The Urban Institute

US HUD has launched its sustainable communities program, and is partnering with USDOT and EPA to develop a broader federal agenda on Sustainable Communities. However, there is surprisingly little agreement on what specifically constitutes sustainability, and to what extent practices commonly identified with it are effective in achieving environmental or social objectives. The purpose of the research project, led by Profs. Blanco and Giuliano, is to assist federal efforts to develop sustainability policies and programs by clarifying the concept of sustainability as it relates to HUD’s and other relevant agencies’ areas of responsibilities and to focusing on specific issue areas that would help to inform a national sustainability program. We propose a series of three tasks: 1) survey of sustainability research in US research universities and institutions, 2) development of white papers on up to four focus areas, and 3) a one day sustainability workshop based on the white papers. We are actively seeking additional funding to support this project. Report