Author Archives: Dimitrios Gounaridis

New Research on Remote Work Carbon Footprints: What HR Leaders Need to Know

Josh Newell was featured in a synthesis article by Peter Matuszak on remote work and its associated carbon emissions. Newell emphasized that well paid workers tend to have larger homes and thus larger carbon footprints according to recent research. Remote work means more energy for cooling and heating those large homes which exacerbates this issue and outweighs any efforts to clean the regional grid that might supply electricity.
Read the article online here.

Roadmap published: A guide to sustainable, equitable expansion of urban agriculture

A recent Urban Sustainability Research Group product takes on the practical side of expanding urban agriculture – what can policymakers do to promote sustainable, equitable growth of the practice in cities? Through a series of interviews and scenario planning exercises, the roadmap identifies policy recommendations for a desirable future for urban ag in 2050. Part of the FEW-meter multi-institutional project, this work also dives into how and to what degree policy can be developed to create synergies between urban agriculture & cities’ food, energy and water nexus.
 
Read the article full report here.

Gentrified gardens | research highlight in Nature Plants

New article exploring the links between urban agriculture and potential gentrification led by Jason Hawes has been featured as a research highlight in Nature Plants.

 

The authors studied urban gardens in Detroit, Michigan, to answer whether gentrification is linked to the creation of home and community gardens and to find quantitative evidence for where these gardens are, or for the characteristics of the people living in those neighborhoods.

 

Read the article by Ryan Scarrow in Nature Plants.
Read the full paper in Landscape and Urban Planning .

J.Hawes talks to WDET about new paper on urban gardens and potential links to gentrification in Detroit

Recent USRG work by Jake Hawes, Dimitrios Gounaridis and Joshua Newell has been featured by WDET, the Detroit NPR station. After creating the first map of community and private gardens across the entire city of Detroit, Hawes and Gounaridis used spatial regression to assess garden equity and test for signs of garden-driven gentrification. The study, concluded that while gardens in Detroit may not be equally distributed, they don’t seem to be driving gentrification – yet. Click here to listen to Hawes chat with WDET reporter Pat Batcheller about the study, the implications for Detroit, and the importance of these sort of mapping projects moving forward.

Read the full paper in Landscape and Urban Planning

Do urban gardens lead to gentrification? Not in Detroit, study finds

By Greta Guest | Michigan News | gguest@umich.edu | May 25, 2022.

 

A wide-scale look at Detroit’s urban gardens finds that while they don’t seem to foreshadow gentrification in the city, there are some unsettling trends about where they’re located and the sociodemographics in those areas.
For example, home and community gardens are more frequently planted in non-Black neighborhoods, according to the study forthcoming in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.
The study used remote sensing to map 478 home gardens and 130 community gardens across 56 neighborhoods where 700,000 people live in Detroit, an emblematic legacy city undergoing significant redevelopment.
“We found in the case of community gardens, the folks who had access to those gardens were wealthier, more educated and of a higher socioeconomic status,” said Jason Hawes, a doctoral student at University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. “They also tended to be clustered in non-Black neighborhoods. That’s a really big deal in a city that’s 78% Black.”
 
Study senior author Joshua Newell, an urban geographer at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability, collaborated with Hawes and Dimitrios Gounaridis, a postdoctoral researcher on the study.
“Our mapping effort produced one of the first city-scale datasets of urban agriculture available in the United States,” Newell said. The researchers incorporated Google Street View along with remote sensing to map the home and community gardens.
 
The study found that community gardens are in neighborhoods with younger, affluent, well-educated residents, and home gardens are more frequent in areas that are in renewal. And unlike in other cities they compared, researchers found no correlation between urban gardening and potential gentrification. When economically distressed neighborhoods see new parks, rain gardens and urban gardens pop up, it’s typically a sign of gentrification on the horizon. “Detroit is the poster child for urban agriculture. The city has been called the next great frontier for urban agriculturalists … that narrative brings a unique demographic to town,” Hawes said. That demographic is educated with high income or with lower income paired with relatively high social capital. But they aren’t necessarily displacing existing residents because there’s so much housing available in Detroit, he said. “But you are changing the patterns of access in the city when you expand these practices that spread beyond Black neighborhoods,” Hawes said.
 
This indicates that the practice of gardening may be spreading beyond the Black-led institutions like churches and nonprofits that originally promoted it. This could have implications for Detroit’s food scene broadly, as modeling also indicated that gardens are in areas with limited access to fresh produce and are consistently more prevalent in neighborhoods that have stabilized after experiencing high rates of vacancy, foreclosure and housing demolition.
While Detroit’s experience was compared with several other U.S. cities, the Motor City emerged as a “a unique case of city,” Gounaridis said. “Maybe in the future, gardens will be more associated with gentrified neighborhoods. But we don’t necessarily know if gardens are causing this gentrification or if other factors are the cause.”
 
Read the full paper in Landscape and Urban Planning .
 
Read the story in Michigan News, Planetizen and Patch

Urban agriculture in Detroit: Scattering vs. clustering and the prospects for scaling up

By Jim Erickson | Michigan News | April 4, 2022 | ericksn@umich.edu

Study: Ecosystem services of urban agriculture and prospects for scaling up production: A study of Detroit.
This story was originally published by Michigan News.
 
Despite Detroit’s reputation as a mecca for urban agriculture, a new University of Michigan-led analysis of the city’s Lower Eastside, which covers 15 square miles, found that community and private gardens occupy less than 1% of the vacant land. Even so, gardens on Detroit’s Lower Eastside, which has one of the city’s highest vacancy levels, play an important role in reducing neighborhood blight and have the potential to provide other significant benefits to residents in the future, according to the new study. To maximize those benefits—which include improved access to fresh food, increased community cohesion and reduced stormwater runoff—the new study recommends scattering future gardens across the landscape, rather than clustering them in a few places.
 
“Despite the abundance of vacant land and Detroit’s media image as a hub of urban agriculture, we were surprised to find a relatively low level of private and community gardens in the Lower Eastside,” said study lead author Joshua Newell, an urban geographer at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability. “As urban agricultural production scales up, our modeling recommends dispersing rather than clustering these gardens. This strategy would provide more benefits to more people, while countering the gentrification effects that may occur when cities expand green space.”
 
The study, which the authors describe as the most comprehensive integrated assessment of Detroit urban agriculture to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, appeared online March 25 in the journal Cities. Co-authors are from Illinois State University, Michigan State University and Arizona State University. Detroit’s Lower Eastside borders the Detroit River and includes the Indian Village, Jefferson Chalmers and East Village neighborhoods. It represents about 10% of Detroit’s land area, and 95% of the residents are minorities, according to the new study.
 
To map and document urban agriculture sites in Detroit’s Lower Eastside, the researchers used Google Earth Pro in conjunction with Geographic Information Systems analysis and site visits. In addition, Lower Eastside residents were interviewed to gain insights about their motivations for gardening. The information was used to generate a future land-use scenario that would maximize the benefits of urban agriculture in the study area. Specifically, the researchers used spatial multicriteria evaluation modeling to identify parcels where planting gardens and growing crops would be especially beneficial. Each location (38,541 parcels were analyzed) was given a suitability score based on 11 criteria, including proximity to: blight, grocery stores, existing gardens and parks.
 
The modeling results led the team to recommend a spatially dispersed strategy, in contrast to centralized urban agriculture-type developments such as Detroit’s Hantz Woodlands, which is in the Lower Eastside study area. That project, originally conceived as the world’s largest urban farm and named Hantz Farms, was later scaled back, renamed and refocused on growing hardwood trees. Exactly how Detroit should expand urban agriculture has been hotly contested, and much of the debate has focused on the relative merits of large, centralized efforts versus smaller, decentralized approaches. The new Lower Eastside study comes down squarely on the side of smaller-scale efforts that are spatially dispersed. For their study, the researchers collected data from two years, 2010 and 2016, and measured the changes that occurred over time. They identified 53 gardens, totaling 4.8 acres, in Detroit’s Lower Eastside in 2010. Just over one-third of the gardens were communally managed.
 
By 2016, the number of gardens in the study area increased to 89, expanding to 6.2 acres. But even with this expansion, the 2016 acreage total represented less than 1% of the estimated vacant land (1,747 acres) in the Lower Eastside, according to the study. Comparing the two years also highlighted the ephemeral nature of urban agriculture in Detroit. Between 2010 and 2016, 14 of the 53 gardens were lost, but 50 new gardens were added. In a study of 2019 that is under review and is expected to be published later this year, Newell and his colleagues found an additional 13 gardens in the Lower Eastside that year, raising the total to 102.
 
Obstacles to scaling up urban agriculture in Detroit include uncertainties about future land access, ineffective government policies, lack of capital investment, and legacy contaminants, according to the study. Urban agriculture in Lower Eastside of Detroit and scenarios to scale up production. A) Current urban agriculture sites in Lower Eastside of Detroit; B) Centralized scenario (Hantz Farms) C) Dispersed scenario using spatial multi-criteria evaluation model.
“Access to permanent land tenure is the primary obstacle to the expansion of urban agriculture in Detroit and many other cities,” said study co-author Alec Foster of Illinois State University. “Urban gardens on vacant lots are often thought of as temporary solutions until traditional redevelopment options arise.”
 
In 15 interviews, Lower Eastside residents said they planted gardens primarily to help build community, foster social cohesion and reduce blight, rather than for food production. Vacant lots are frequently used as dumping grounds. “An urban farm,” one resident told researchers, “really becomes a platform for reconnecting the broken pieces that make up Detroit.” “Instead of blight, we’re looking at beautiful trees and a garden and flowers, and something that’s sustainable, that people can actually look at and say, ‘Wow, that’s beautiful,’” another Lower Eastside resident told researchers. “These interviews show that urban agriculture is multifunctional. It’s not just providing food to surrounding communities, but rather a whole suite of social and environmental benefits,” said study co-author Sara Meerow of Arizona State University.
 
It’s long been recognized that Detroit has high potential for agricultural development, given its abundant vacant land. By some estimates, Detroit has more than 100,000 vacant lots, and vacant land in the city totals 23 square miles—roughly equivalent in size to Manhattan. One 2010 study estimated that Detroit has the potential to produce about 75% of its annual vegetable consumption and 40% of its fruit consumption by farming on publicly owned vacant lots using conventional methods. But empirical research that documents the composition, spatial extent and motivations for urban agriculture in Detroit is relatively scarce. The authors of the new paper say their study addresses many of the knowledge gaps. A similar study of urban agriculture across the entire city of Detroit would provide a comprehensive picture of urban agriculture’s current footprint and enable a citywide plan for equitably scaling up, they suggest.
“Studies indicate that UA benefits are often localized, and some evidence suggests that it can lead to gentrification, so scaling up will need to be implemented in a manner that does not exacerbate environmental injustice,” the researchers wrote.
The other study author is Mariel Borgman of Michigan State University. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

SEAS researchers well represented in 2021 Propelling Original Data Science grants

By Denise Spranger | January 20, 2022
 
SEAS and Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR) faculty received three of the 17 Propelling Original Data Science (PODS) grants awarded by the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) in 2021.
“MIDAS is a University of Michigan (U-M)-wide institute with 420 affiliated faculty from 60 departments,” explained Bill Currie, Associate Dean for Research and Engagement and professor of Geospatial Data Sciences at SEAS. “The majority of the MIDAS affiliates are from engineering and computer science, with SEAS researchers being a minority. But in 2021, SEAS researchers were well represented among those receiving the PODS awards.” The PODS grant awardees, announced in May 2021, will present “lightning talks” on their research at the PODS Awards Showcase on March 23, 12 – 3 p.m. at Weiser Hall on the U-M Ann Arbor campus.
 

Josh Newell is one of the awardees and presenters for the project “Using Geospatial Data Science to Identify Vulnerable Communities to Climate Change”.
“This grant is enabling my research group to collaborate with colleagues from Public Health to map climate change risk due to heat, flooding, and what we are calling ‘knowledge vulnerability,’” said Newell. “For the latter, we have been using Twitter data to map climate change denialism at the zip code scale. Our overall objective is to identify communities particularly at risk due to climate change and we are using large-scale spatial data sets and modeling to do so.”
 
Co-PIs: Marie O’Neill (Environmental Health Sciences) and Carina Gronlund (Survey Research Center).
 
Read more here.

White Neighborhoods Have Higher Carbon Emissions (Futurity)

By Jim Erickson | Michigan News |
 
Residential energy use represents roughly one-fifth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A team of researchers used data from 60 million individual United States households to look into how carbon emissions resulting from household energy use vary by race and ethnicity across the country. Paradoxically, this first national-level analysis found that even though energy-efficient homes are more often found in white neighborhoods, carbon emissions from these neighborhoods are higher than in African American neighborhoods.
 
“Our analysis shows that homes in majority African American communities have poorer energy efficiency than those in Caucasian neighborhoods. However, carbon emissions are still higher in Caucasian neighborhoods because homes in these areas are generally larger,” says Benjamin Goldstein, assistant professor in McGill University’s department of bioresource engineering and lead author of the study.
 
The study appears in the journal Energy Research & Social Science. Coauthors are Joshua Newell and Tony Reames of the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. The research team arrived at its conclusions by using statistical modeling to look at factors such as building age, ownership, and size by neighborhood. They also point to the fact that historical housing policies, particularly “redlining“—a discriminatory practice in which banks withheld loans from potential customers who resided in neighborhoods considered “financially risky”—overwhelmingly affected African American neighborhoods and forestalled home improvements that would reduce energy demand.
 
“In African American neighborhoods, homes are older and there is less floor area per person compared to Caucasian neighborhoods. This means that more people are living in a smaller space, but that these spaces are less energy efficient,” Goldstein says. He points to other smaller case studies where communities of color in American cities not only often live in less energy-efficient homes, but also have higher relative energy bills, especially if they are renting, and are more likely to experience energy insecurity and/or poverty (i.e., higher risk of disconnection or foregoing other expenses to pay utility bills).
 
“There is a clear imbalance between benefits and burdens of our energy system. This new study demonstrates that the racial disparities in residential energy efficiency we identified in previous studies in places like Kansas City and Detroit are not simply isolated concerns in a few urban African American communities,” says Reames, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. “This is a far-reaching, systemic national challenge that must be addressed by deliberate, targeted policy and investments,” says Reames, who is also a senior adviser on energy justice at the US Department of Energy.
 
The researchers outline policy recommendations for building a low-carbon housing sector in the US. They also point out that solving this emissions paradox will require financial support to help homeowners and renters in communities of color make energy retrofits and gain increased access to green energy, while at the same time setting in place disincentives for egregiously high carbon emitters.
 
“There are 120 million existing homes in the US, and policymakers in Washington are hammering out the Build Back Better Act as we speak. Within this bill are programs that will directly address long-standing inequities in the residential housing sector that we have identified in this study,” says Newell, senior author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. “These include significant investments in Healthy Buildings, such as upgrades to boost energy efficiency in public housing and related weatherization investments. “The findings of this study speak to a broader call for environmental justice and climate justice in our communities and are especially timely as world leaders are coming out of the latest round of climate negotiation at COP26.”
 
Financial support of the work came from the National Science Foundation through the Environmental Sustainability Program.
 
Source: University of Michigan.
Read the paper in Energy Research & Social Science.

White households in US emit most carbon despite greater energy efficiency

By Frédérique Mazerolle, McGill University | November 23, 2021
 
Residential energy use represents roughly one-fifth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A team of researchers from McGill University and the University of Michigan has used data from 60 million individual American households to look into how carbon emissions caused by household energy use vary by race and ethnicity across the country. Paradoxically, this first national-level analysis found that even though energy-efficient homes are more often found in white neighborhoods, carbon emissions from these neighborhoods are higher than in African American neighborhoods.
 
“Our analysis shows that homes in majority African American communities have poorer energy efficiency than those in Caucasian neighborhoods. However, carbon emissions are still higher in Caucasian neighborhoods because homes in these areas are generally larger,” said Benjamin Goldstein, Assistant Professor in McGill’s Department of Bioresource Engineering and lead author of the study. He is also a former University of Michigan postdoctoral research fellow.
The study was published online Nov. 17 in the journal Energy Research & Social Science. Co-authors are Joshua Newell and Tony Reames of the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.
 
The research team arrived at its conclusions by using statistical modeling to look at factors such as building age, ownership and size by neighborhood. They also point to the fact that historical housing policies, particularly ‘redlining’—a discriminatory practice in which loans were withheld from potential customers who resided in neighborhoods considered ‘financially risky’—overwhelmingly affected African American neighborhoods and forestalled home improvements that would reduce energy demand.
 
“In African American neighborhoods, homes are older and there is less floor area per person compared to Caucasian neighborhoods. This means that more people are living in a smaller space, but that these spaces are less energy efficient,” Goldstein said. He pointed to other smaller case studies where communities of color in American cities not only often live in less energy-efficient homes, but also have higher relative energy bills, especially if they are renting, and are more likely to be impacted by energy insecurity and/or poverty (i.e., higher risk of disconnection or foregoing other expenses to pay utility bills).
 
“There is a clear imbalance between benefits and burdens of our energy system. This new study demonstrates that the racial disparities in residential energy efficiency we identified in previous studies in places like Kansas City and Detroit are not simply isolated concerns in a few urban African American communities,” said study co-author Reames, an assistant professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. “This is a far-reaching, systemic national challenge that must be addressed by deliberate, targeted policy and investments,” said Reames, who is also a senior adviser on energy justice at the U.S. Department of Energy.
 
The researchers outline policy recommendations for building a low-carbon housing sector in the U.S. They also point out that solving this emissions paradox will require financial support to help homeowners and renters in communities of color make energy retrofits and gain increased access to green energy, while at the same time setting in place disincentives for egregiously high carbon emitters. “There are 120 million existing homes in the U.S., and policymakers in Washington are hammering out the Build Back Better Act as we speak. Within this bill are programs that will directly address long-standing inequities in the residential housing sector that we have identified in this study,” said Newell, senior author of the study and an associate professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. “These include significant investments in Healthy Buildings, such as upgrades to boost energy efficiency in public housing and related weatherization investments.
 
“The findings of this study speak to a broader call for environmental justice and climate justice in our communities and are especially timely as world leaders are coming out of the latest round of climate negotiation at COP26.”
Financial support of the work was provided by the National Science Foundation through the Environmental Sustainability Program.
 
More information:
Study: Racial inequity in household energy efficiency and carbon emissions in the United States: An emissions paradox.
Related research: The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States.