abstract artwork by Swensen

Sustainable Communities



This emphasis area engages in the design, construction and management of built and environmental assets in a sustainable manner. The goal is to improve the balance between the needs of society’s built form and the needs of nature.

Examples of projects in this area include:

  • Climate action plans for cities and towns
  • Local and state hazard mitigation plans
  • Transportation and health assessments
  • Visioning exercises
  • Design guidelines
  • Environmental assessments studies for potential development areas and projects/green building guidelines
  • Research on steel and masonry seismic resistive systems
  • Seismic detection
  • Monitoring, testing, and designing a climate classification system for passive and low-energy buildings in California
  • Preservation strategies to enhance the livability of urban areas and rural landscapes.

The RCRI helps private and public clients define and solve their sustainability issues through design and planning. It provides guidance in green development and construction that is cost efficient and user friendly.  It helps make cities safer through better integration of land use plans and the development process.  RCRI can test ideas and materials, assemble information and conduct analysis from the project to the regional scale.

Project Examples Conducted by RCRI Affiliated Faculty

Visualization study for Delano’s downtown core for the City’ Community Development Department.

Providing Senior Mobility at Minimum Public Cost, a project selecting the best methods to design assistance systems for seniors in your town.

Development of the data sets, public input and the plan documents for city climate action plans for the City of Benecia and the City of San Luis Obispo.

Specific plan design, including present conditions analysis, constraints, public input, and scenario development for the City of Ventura, City of Delano, and San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

Updates of General Plan elements and community plan-making, focusing on land use, circulation, open space and conservation, and safety for the City of Desert Hot Springs, City of King City and City of Armona.

Transportation and urban design solution (traffic demand and compact urban design development) for the County of Madera.

Multi-hazard mitigation plans for the State of California. Making California safer.

Octavia Boulevard Zoning Analysis: including design into zoning codes.

Development of a comprehensive and linked “Green Experimentation Grounds” including Poly Canyon, courtyards, rooftops, Solar Decathlon house and the Hay House (solar-cooled).

Design of Affordable Housing projects (winner of two Bank of American Low Cost Housing Challenges in the past five years with innovative and affordable design solutions).

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