State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Sustainable Development Students Tackle Four Real-World Challenges in Fall 2020 Workshop

On December 15, students enrolled in the Sustainable Development Capstone Workshop made their final presentations for the Columbia community. The Capstone Workshop course requires students to bring together knowledge and theories that they have gained in the classroom to work on real-world client-based projects, collaboratively crafting practical solutions to critical problems. Read more about the projects from the fall 2020 semester below.

Rochester Building Energy Policy Best Practices

The city of Rochester’s Office of Energy and Sustainability is in charge of innovative and ecologically sustainable operations, policies and practices of Rochester, NY. The students were tasked to analyze energy policy trends and suggest the most effective and feasible ways for the city to reduce its energy burden. Students dove into multiple case studies to benchmark and drew key recommendations that Rochester can implement. For example, students researched the City of Saint Paul’s initiative to educate residents about energy efficiency, and developed guidelines and recommendations on how to effectively implement similar programs. 

Redesigning Food Systems for Food Security: Sustainable Food Systems for Westchester County

Students worked with Westchester County to develop a local sustainable and equitable food system which has been a critical issue since the city’s food security has been compromised due to COVID-19. First, the students conducted a literature review and analyzed four case studies to gain a broader understanding of the issue, and performed spatial analysis to identify the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, the students conducted interviews with multiple stakeholders, including local private companies and government agencies in Westchester County. After thorough research, the students were able to address barriers and produced practical recommendations to restructure the city’s food system.

Facilitating Farm Transitions in the East of Hudson Watershed

Students researched on transition planning of farms through literature review and survey designing. As the average of age farmers increase, farm transition (succession) planning has become a challenge after the farm owners retire. The literature review looked into economic and legal issues related to transition planning and how farmers’ social backgrounds affect such planning. Further, the students designed surveys of which goal is to gain greater understanding of familial, economic, and legal structures of target population. 

Coastal Resilience: Climate Adaptation Finance and Planning for Piermont, New York

With Piermont Waterfront Resiliency Commission, students were tasked to identify funding opportunities for long-term planning to enhance Piermont’s climate resilience, which has become a pressing issue due to sea level rise and storm surge. The students conducted expert interviews, literature reviews, and case study analyses to make recommendations for financial planning. As for recommendations, the students identified funding revenues such as grants, insurance, loans, and bonds that can be utilized for sustainable city planning. They also researched green infrastructure and nature-based solutions that can be implemented in the long-term.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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