Sustainability & Climate Change

I know that we are just beginning to understand the climate crisis and that cities across the globe will have to evolve and adapt in the coming decades. I also know that cities have the ability to mitigate climate change, and can be a powerful driver toward new technology and policy. 

 

A drive to address climate change was the reason that I pursued a degree in Urban Planning, and remains one of my key career objectives.

You can find a sample of my sustainability-focused work below.

Urban Footprint Scenario Modeling for a Low-Carbon City of Alexandria

In my Low Carbon Cities course we used the mapping and modeling software Urban Footprint ​to analyze a variety of neighborhoods for their climate vulnerabilities and create future redevelopment scenarios that would improve the climate mitigation and adaptation plans for the neighborhoods.

My partner, Colin, and I chose to analyze Alexandria, Virginia, a neighborhood at high risk to sea level rise and flooding due to its proximity to the river and its below sea level elevation. The neighborhood has the additional complication of having a lot of historic preservation, limiting our options for redevelopment.

We proposed the extension of the existing waterfront park with several interventions to ensure the park stays a community amenity and protects from encroaching water. We also proposed a gradual shift of King Street to transit-only with increased density.

Key details from the project can be seen in the slideshow to the right, and you can view the full presentation by clicking on this link.

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Carbon Dioxide Dome Group Research Paper

My Scientific Basis of Climate Change course​ required a semester-long, group research paper. My four classmates and I chose the topic of urban carbon dioxide domes, a topic deserving of much further research. Each member of the research team was in charge of a section of the study, and I took on the policy section, creating a guide for urban planners to mitigate urban carbon dioxide domes. 

The urban carbon dioxide dome is a phenomenon in which ambient carbon dioxide concentrations in urban areas significantly exceed concentrations in surrounding areas. Our study set out to test the hypothesis that the presence of urban carbon dioxide domes in some cities may threaten the health and wellbeing of residents. Our study concluded with a comprehensive guide for the development and implementation of targeted policies to address urban risk factors and mitigate potential harms from this phenomenon.

 

You can our final paper by clicking on this link.

Workplace & Event Sustainability Plans for the Crystal City Business Improvement District

As a planning intern with a specialty in sustainability for the Crystal City BID, I was tasked with reviewing current BID operations and suggesting ways to reduce their carbon footprint. I focuesd on two areas, the workplace and events. 

My workplace review resulted in waste reduction through the BID starting to compost in the office, switching from disposable k-cups to compostable k-cups, and switching from individual cans of LaCroix to a SodaStream. The BID also reduced its printing and implemented a sustainable purchasing review of all items to ensure purchasing of recycled or sustainable goods where possible, including recycled paper, folders, binders, and napkins and compostable utensils and servingware in the kitchen. 

You can view my guide to a more sustainable workplace by clicking on this link and my guide to more sustainable events by clicking on this link.

Pollinator Garden & Bluebird Box Plans for the Crystal City Business Improvement District

Another way that I helped further sustainability in Crystal City was to suggest implementing pollinator-friendly landscaping, create dedicated pollinator gardens, and install bluebird boxes. 

The Eastern Bluebird population experienced a major decline from 1920–1970 due to loss of habitat, pesticide use, weather changes, dead tree removal, an influx of house cats, and competition from theHouse Sparrow and the European Starling. The Crystal City BID worked with the Virginia Bluebird Society to install bird boxes to support conservation efforts. 

You can view my guide to creating pollinator gardens by clicking on this link and my guide to bluebird habitat conservation by clicking on this link.

Community Compost Program & Green Day at Food Truck Thursdays in Crystal City

Crystal City has had a long-running community compost program that was disrupted in fall 2018 by construction work in the complex where they housed their compost drop-off. As a planning intern I helped find a new, permanent spot for compost drop-off and implemented a weekly compost collection at the neighborhood farmers market.

I also worked to reduce waste at all Crystal City events, which lead to the creation of "Green Day" at Food Truck Thursdays. During Green Day, which is once monthly, all food trucks at the event provide compostable utensils, servingware, and containers for their take-out and compost and recycling are collected by BID staff or volunteers. 

You can view my interview at Green Day by clicking on this link.

Report on Offshore Wind Energy for the Climate Reality Project

As part of my internship with the Climate Reality Project's Science and Solutions team I wrote a report for the team on the current technology, economic viability, benefits, and opportunities of offshore wind energy. 

I found that offshore wind energy is quickly becoming cost competitive in Europe, and as technology improves the price of offshore wind energy will soon be comparable with grid energy in the United States as well. Furthermore, offshorewind turbines have a variety of benefits including climate change mitigation, job creation, ecological benefits by creating new habitat areas for mollusks and coral, and potential storm surge protection. 

You can view the full report by clicking on this link.

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