UCLA profs spend nearly $1M to design climate change-fighting bus stops

Ten UCLA professors won a $956,000 prize from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

The professors will team up to develop more effective ways to deal with the rising heat waves in Los Angeles.

A UCLA project with a budget totaling almost $1 million will build “bus stop” type cooling structures to combat climate change.

UCLA professors from engineering, urban planning, public health, and environmental law will work together to address the rapid increase in the number of extreme heat days in Los Angeles. 

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“The project, called Heat Resilient L.A., will over the next two years determine where and when people moving around the city are most vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat — a problem being caused by climate change — and assess which communities most need cooling interventions,” explains a UCLA press release.

Based on their findings, “the team will design new cooling structures and work with local stakeholders to determine where they should be installed.” UCLA released a photo of one prototype that would act as both a bus stop and a cooling structure. 

The project was chosen through a newly launched program in September called the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Eight teams pitched project ideas to a panel of jurors that included UCLA deans as well as chief sustainability officers from the city and county. The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge competition limited research proposals to three areas: energy, transportation, water, and ecosystems. 

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“We wanted to bring together brilliant minds at UCLA who had never collaborated before and push them to bring fresh ideas to the table. This type of interdisciplinary problem-solving is absolutely critical for addressing Los Angeles’s complex sustainability challenges.,” said Cassie Rauser, executive director of the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Judith Min, a senior at UCLA, told Campus Reform she is “excited” and “all for” the new project. 

“L.A. definitely needs to build awareness regarding sustainability and this seems like the first big step. By adding these structures to common places, we’re showcasing that being conscious of our environment should be incorporated into our daily lives. So I think it’s an amazing idea and something we can keep branching off of because innovation involving community engagement is also practical and efficient.” 

“Overall, it’ll assist both our social and environmental needs: it’ll bring more awareness regarding the environment and physically help with the rising heat (for immediate sources like shade and hopefully in the long term like lower the heat levels),” she said. 

UCLA lecturer in urban planning Walker Wells told Campus Reform that he hopes to “engage with community stakeholders and residents in order to better understand what types of flexible and cost-effective measures can be taken in neighborhoods with high heat and low tree canopy coverage, to reduce the negative impacts of exposure to high heat. These measures could include the installation of shade structures, mist tents, radiant cooling, reflective materials, or fans, either individually or in various combinations.”

The remaining seven other Heat Resilient team members did not respond in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ashleyecarnahan