California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA



We Need to Take Better Care of Our Forests – Dr. Pincetl in Esquire

The area encompassing both Southern California and Baja in Mexico have what’s known as chaparral ecosystems: dry soil, hot weather, and short shrubs. But these two regions’ fire lives have played out very differently. “Right across the border, there are very similar chaparral ecosystems,” Pincetl said, but “that chaparral has not had the benefit of fire suppression, because the Mexicans simply can't afford it. And it continues to exhibit this low intensity fire pattern, which does not kill the chaparral, but there are unsuppressed fires that occur on a relatively regular basis. And people don't die. The houses aren't burned. There's not huge conflagrations. So how do we get back to that kind of chaparral, is the question.”


The real reason a heat wave is pushing California’s power grid to its limits

Heat’s impact on the grid is twofold, explained Eric Fournier, research director at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. First, more people turn on their air conditioners and run them for longer on hot days, which means electricity demand is higher. Second, heat has a physical impact on the infrastructure of the grid, making wires less efficient at moving electricity and pushing transformers and thermal power plants to their temperature limits. As the temperature rises, those air conditioners have to work harder to cool the air — which means they draw more power, straining the grid even more. “So you get this feedback loop,” said Fournier.


UCLA teams up with LADWP for equitable solutions to reach 100% renewable energy

More detailed data collection and analysis will be important in this effort and others, and it will be led by the California Center for Sustainable Communities — specifically leveraging its Energy Atlas, which can show city officials where resources are being consumed and at what level, down to the individual building or unit. “Anything that has a spatial characteristic, we can examine and provide an analysis for it,” said Stephanie Pincetl, founding director of the center. “Our motivation is to work at consumption through the lens of equity. How much are they using? Where? And to do what, and under what conditions?”


Is it the end for the lush lawns of Los Angeles? Dr. Pincetl talks to the BBC

An overall issue with the current approach to lawn replacement is that it's very individualised, says Dr Pincetl. There is an element of personal responsibility when it comes to lawns and water use, according to Dr Pincetl, where "the water you use on your lawn is the water I'm not going to be drinking next week". At the same time, more sweeping community-level changes are needed. Dr Pincetl calls for "a more robust infrastructure of transformation to really help people who want to make that transformation and don't have that kind of capacity". For instance, youth training organisations could work neighbourhood by neighbourhood to support residents in reimagining their lawns.


Deep drought leads to steep water restrictions in Southern California

Los Angeles is in its third year of extreme drought — and water officials have resorted to extreme water-reduction measures. Professor Stephanie Pincetl, founding director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California Los Angeles talks to WBUR radio.