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Initiatives

Supporting the transition to electric-drive, alternative-fuel, and autonomous vehicles through innovative research and decision support.
Developing strategies to spur renewable energy and energy efficiency in California.
Supporting the creation and implementation of state and local policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing local economic, environmental, and public health benefits.
Enhancing the role of information and communications technologies in the 21st century.
Advancing policy, economic, and technological solutions that support sustainable water systems and water use behavior in California.
Supporting efforts to create environmentally sustainable and healthy communitiesThe Luskin Center’s Urban Greening Initiative has grown from its original focus on complete, living streets that safely accomodate all users and provide environmental, economic and social benefits.

Exploring the Consequences of Landscape Design

More than half of the global population lives in urban environments. Although the growing spaces in urban areas are highly constrained, they provide opportunity to expose a large number of people to nature. How public spaces and private yards are designed can either hurt or enhance ecosystem services that directly benefit dense urban populations. These ecosystem services include biodiversity and species abundance, storm water capture capacity, temperature regulation and more that affects the mental and physical health of community members.

Yet public agencies, nonprofits, and private landowners have limited information to inform their landscape design decisions to maximize ecosystem services and associated human health benefits. Existing research is segmented by discipline and primarily focused on non-urban environments. More work needs to be done to integrate findings that can then be used to create cohesive guidelines and planning processes for land managers at the local, regional, and state level.

To address this need, the Luskin Center is embarking on interdisciplinary research aimed at tackling the following questions:

  1. How does landscape design impact the hydrological and ecological function of landscapes?
  2. How are people impacted by landscape design and the associated ecosystem services?
  3. What are the trade-offs inherent in different landscape options?
  4. How can decision-makers improve sustainability through landscape design?
  5. What are the policy and planning tools available to decision-makers to drive landscape planning?

The Luskin Center hopes that this research can support land managers interested in having ecological knowledge and sustainability principles guide their planning and design decisions.