USC Center for Sustainable Cities

Improving cities through research, education, and community outreach



The Center for Sustainable Cities is led by Dr. Hilda Blanco, Project Director. Dr. Blanco manages Center activities and directs the Center’s research.

The Mission: The USC Center for Sustainable Cities conducts research, education and community outreach to create cities that work.

The Challenge: Metropolitan areas are at the core of sustainability issues; large populations and extensive, resource intensive economic activity generate negative impacts on the environment and consume scarce natural resources. Metropolitan areas also exhibit some of our most serious social equity problems. Cities and metropolitan areas around the US are not working as well as they could.  Traffic congestion is endemic, poor air quality adds to health problems, and housing affordability is an increasing problem in growing metropolitan areas. Technological change is rapid:  elements of the Internet of Things are being put together, automated vehicles are on the horizon, and the smart phone has changed many aspects of everyday life.  At the same time, clean energy is becoming more competitive, and alternative fuel vehicles are beginning to gain market share.  These changes, if anticipated, can improve the sustainability of metropolitan areas.

The History: The Center for Sustainable Cities was established in 1998 by a group of USC faculty from engineering, the natural and social sciences, urban planning, and environmental health sciences. In 2009, the Center was transferred to the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. In 2017, the Center joined the METRANS Transportation Center. The mission of METRANS is to solve transportation problems of large metropolitan regions through interdisciplinary research, education and outreach.

The Partnership: To capitalize on this partnership, CSC will focus its research on sustainable land use. The connection between land use and transportation in metropolitan areas is vital for the future prospects of metropolitan areas. In its new home, the Center will benefit from collaboration with METRANS multi-disciplinary faculty already conducting research on urban mobility and integrated management of passenger and freight mobility systems.

In order to ensure that the Center’s research extends beyond the world of academia, the Center conducts educational and public outreach programs designed to engage policy makers, elected officials, corporate executives and the general public in informed discussions that further advance the development of sustainable cities.