Research to Climate Action: Urban Design and Climate


A key pillar of sustainable urban design has been that compact settlement patterns reduce the impact of suburban sprawl on the surrounding countryside. In the twenty-first century, greenhouse gas emissions have become a priority and they too are reduced by high density, transit-friendly, and efficient cities. However, neighborhoods in these dense cities are often poorly designed concrete jungles, whose residents suffer from hot, flood-prone, and unhealthy urban environments. Working with community experts and stakeholders, the challenge is to configure these dense urban districts to reduce the growing impact of urban heat and storms due to the changing climate while enhancing an equitable, high-quality, low-carbon lifestyle.

Jeffrey Raven’s work tests the hypothesis that a neighborhood can increase density in an ever-hotter city while mitigating the impact of climate change. Climate research has identified these urban form and urban function principles for configuring climate-resilient neighborhoods: (1) reducing waste heat and greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, transit access, and walkability; (2) modifying form and layout of neighborhoods for solar and passive cooling impact; (3) applying heat-resistant construction materials and surface coatings; and (4) increasing vegetative cover.

This NSF RCN presentation illustrates this design and planning process through a series of cross-sectoral case studies in the United States and internationally.

Jeffrey Raven is an Associate Professor of the graduate program in Urban and Regional Design at the New York Institute of Technology. Member of Research Coordination Network is a specialist in sustainable and resilient urban design whose research is applied through his professional practice and disseminated throughout the profession, government, and allied disciplines. His work expands on the traditional influence of architect-urbanists by bridging climate science, policy, and design practice.


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