Research Papers: Sustainable Cities and Their Built Environments

Analysis of energy impacts of facade-inclusive retrofit strategies, compared to system-only retrofits using regression models

By Andrea Martinez, Joon-Ho Choi

Energy and Buildings


Reducing the energy consumption in existing buildings became one of the critical challenges at the beginning of the 21st century. Several types and levels of retrofits are now being implemented in the building stock. To obtain a better understanding of the actual impact of these actions, evidence-based research has been playing an increasingly important role. This paper describes the collection of data on measured pre- and post-retrofit energy consumption of a group of buildings in the U.S., in order to distinguish the impacts of different levels of retrofits. In particular, the goal has been to distinguish how retrofits including facade improvements compare to those centered exclusively on internal systems. Additionally, energy data was collected for a subset of non-retrofitted buildings and used as the control group. The regression model revealed greater energy savings from retrofits including the facade as compared to those that excluded it. However, those savings are modest considering the energy reductions that are anticipated from deep-energy retrofits. Other relevant factors, such as occupants and their behavior, are vital for determining the value of retrofits and need to be incorporated in the next phases of this study.

Environmentalism with Chinese Characteristics? Urban River Revitalization in Foshan

By Eric Heikkila

Planning Theory & Practice


Human settlements have long been located on rivers, and the relationship of the place to the river functions as a deep reflection of its historical, cultural, and socio-economic traditions. This paper explores urban river revitalization in contemporary China, focusing particularly on ongoing efforts to clean up Foshan’s polluted Fenjiang River. The research shows that the traditional cultural status of the waterway, which is known as the “Mother River” of Foshan, plays a paradoxically pivotal role in the project to modernize it. Interacting in complex ways with domestic and international political concerns, and popular media and internet technologies, the cultural status of the river has helped to determine both the type of environmental movement that has emerged in its defence, and the community of interests that serves as a proxy for civil society in that movement. Ultimately, this paper argues that the unique configuration of institutions and actors engaged in the Fenjiang River restoration project are emblematic of a new type of “environmentalism with Chinese characteristics.”

Geographic Segmentation via Latent Poisson Factor Model

By Rose Yu, Andrew Gelfand, Suju Rajan, Cyrus Shahabi, Yan Liu

Proceedings of the Ninth ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining


Discovering latent structures in spatial data is of critical importance to understanding the user behavior of location based services. In this paper, we study the problem of geographic segmentation of spatial data, which involves dividing a collection of observations into distinct geo-spatial regions and uncovering abstract correlation structures in the data. We introduce a novel, Latent Poisson Factor (LPF) model to describe spatial count data. The model describes the spatial counts as a Poisson distribution with a mean that factors over a joint item-location latent space. The latent factors are constrained with weak labels to help uncover interesting spatial dependencies. We study the LPF model on a mobile app usage data set and a news article readership data set. We empirically demonstrate its effectiveness on a variety of prediction tasks on these two data sets.

Educational and Developmental Psychologists Take Action in Response to the Climate Crisis

By Gale M. Sinatra

Educational and Developmental Psychologist


The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. Educational and developmental psychologists can make clear and important contributions to addressing this existential threat. The articles in the Climate Crisis Special Issue take on the issue of climate change from multiple angles, with varied populations, using different research methods and theoretical frameworks. The special issue makes clear the important role psychologists have to play in addressing the climate crisis.

Ten Questions Concerning the Impact of Environmental Stress on Office Workers

By Burcin Becerik-Gerber et al.

Building and Environment


We regularly face stress during our everyday activities, to the extent that stress is recognized by the World Health Organization as the epidemic of the 21st century. Stress is how humans respond physically and psychologically to adjustments, experiences, conditions, and circumstances in their lives. While there are many reasons for stress, work and job pressure remain the main cause. Thus, companies are increasingly interested in creating healthier, more comfortable, and stress-free offices for their workers. The indoor environment can induce environmental stress when it cannot satisfy the individual needs for health and comfort. In fact, office environmental conditions (e.g., thermal, and indoor air conditions, lighting, and noise) and interior design parameters (e.g., office layout, colors, furniture, access to views, distance to window, personal control and biophilic design) have been found to affect office workers’ stress levels. A line of research based on the stress recovery theory offers new insights for establishing offices that limit environmental stress and help with work stress recovery. To that end, this paper answers ten questions that explore the relation between the indoor office-built environment and stress levels among workers. The answers to the ten questions are based on an extensive literature review to draw conclusions from what has been achieved to date. Thus, this study presents a foundation for future environmental stress related research in offices.

Ambient Fine Particulate Exposure and Subcortial Gray Matter Microarchitecture in 9-and 10-Year-Old Children Across the United States

By Rob McConnell et al.



Neuroimaging studies showing the adverse effects of air pollution on neurodevelopment have largely focused on smaller samples from limited geographical locations and have implemented univariant approaches to assess exposure and brain macrostructure. Herein, we implement restriction spectrum imaging and a multivariate approach to examine how one year of annual exposure to daily fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ), daily nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), and 8-h maximum ozone (O 3 ) at ages 9-10 years relates to subcortical gray matter microarchitecture in a geographically diverse subsample of children from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study℠. Adjusting for confounders, we identified a latent variable representing 66% of the variance between one year of air pollution and subcortical gray matter microarchitecture. PM 2.5 was related to greater isotropic intracellular diffusion in the thalamus, brainstem, and accumbens, which related to cognition and internalizing symptoms. These findings may be indicative of previously identified air pollution-related risk for neuroin-flammation and early neurodegenerative pathologies.

Ambient temperature and air pollution associations with suicide and homicide mortality in California: A statewide case-crossover study

By Rob McConnell et al.

Science of the Total Environment


Higher ambient temperature and air pollution may contribute to increased risk of behaviors harmful to oneself or to others; however, quantitative evidence is limited. We examined the relationship of deaths due to suicide and homicide with temperature and air pollution in California—a state prone to high levels of both exposures.

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