Research Projects

Research projects may be affiliated with a Lab or Center.  Projects are more specific in scope and timeline and often engage our communities and partners towards specific goals.

Public-Private Partnerships for Transit Bus Base Electrical conversion

King County Metro is moving toward a zero emissions fleet, with a goal to achieve this by 2035. As part of this, their bus bases will need to convert for electrical charging. To support the transition plan, this project aims to answer the question "When is P3 a more effective delivery model for bus base conversion than the conventional models?"

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Evaluating Campus Bird Building Collisions

Judy Bowes, from the PhD in the Built Environment program, received a Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) award for 2021-2022 to perform the work below. 

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Cultivating Transdisciplinary Support for Equitable and Resilient Floodplain Solutions

In 2021 a massive flood on the Nooksack River left a trail of destruction in its wake. Floods are the most expensive natural hazard in Washington State, a risk that is exacerbated by climate change. Current flood response, recovery, and planning systems are not neutral, favoring some interests over others. This paradigm in turn shapes...

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Coastal Adaptations with the Shoalwater Bay Tribe: Centering Place and Community to Address Climate Change and Social Justice

The proposed community-based participatory action research project is a collaborative research, planning and design initiative that will enable a UW research team to work with the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe to explore sustainable and culturally relevant strategies for an upland expansion in response to climate change-driven sea level rise and other threats to their coastal...

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Professional Real Estate Development – The ULI Guide to the Business, 4th Edition

The Urban Land Institute just published the 4th edition of the Professional Real Estate Development, co-authored by Dr. Sofia Dermisi, Lyon and Wolff Endowed Professor in Real Estate and Professor of Urban Design & Planning.

The book guides those new to development through key steps, challenges, opportunities, and the latest innovations in developing land, multifamily, office, industrial, and retail projects. The authors emphasize innovation and new technologies, from the assembly and management of a project team to design, finance, marketing/management strategies and the reconciliation of the project vision with community engagement. A significant portion of the commercial real estate chapters are focusing on sustainability trends and the effect of the covid-19 pandemic.

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Helping Rural Counties to Enhance Flooding and Coastal Disaster Resilience and Adaptation

In the United States, flooding is a leading cause of natural disasters, with congressional budget office estimates of $54 billion in loss each year. Although both urban and rural areas are highly vulnerable to flood hazards, most natural disaster resilience studies have focused primarily on urban areas, overlooking rural communities. One such area that has...

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Assessing the Expectations Gap – Impact on Critical Infrastructure Service Providers’ and Consumers’ Preparedness, and Response

The research goal of this proposal is to identify and quantify determinants of the gap between societal expectations of critical lifeline systems performance in a hazard event and the planned resilience (avoiding failures/ timeline for service restoration) of these systems. The practical goal of this proposal is to enhance consumers’ preparedness and lifeline providers’ recovery capacity.

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Innovation Tool for Owners

This research project will develop a digital tool for owners to assess their decision-making profile and understand the challenges and alignments between this profile and project delivery for improved selection and management of project delivery methods.

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Internet of Things and Cybersecurity

The IoT and Cybersecurity project will address these challenges by studying two critical areas: (1) how O&M and IT groups currently share their knowledge and skills in order to improve IoT security and (2) how public policies and an organization’s own rules regarding privacy and security impact how IT and O&M collaborate.

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Economic impact of office transformation due to COVID-19

This COVID-19 research aims to investigate: 1) compliant strategies of office layouts with respect to physical distancing; 2) economic impact of mitigated layouts to buildings as well as surrounding community and their future recovery; and 3) recovery actions through innovative building codes against future pandemics.

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Housing Market Data Toolkit

Provides one place where census data and housing market data can be found for local governments planning under GMA frameworks.

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The Environmental Impacts of Seismic Damage Repair

In evaluating the life cycle environmental impacts of buildings, the contributions of seismic damage are rarely considered. This project developed and analyzed the largest known environmental impact database of building component seismic damage. By extending established methods of probabilistic seismic performance evaluation to include environmental impacts, a more comprehensive assessment of a building’s expected seismic...

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Mass Timber Optimization and LCA

This study explored how mass timber buildings can be optimized for material efficiency, and supported a regionally-specific LCA case study of a mass timber office building in the Pacific Northwest. Transitioning construction of low to mid-rise commercial and non-residential structures to cross-laminated timber (CLT)/heavy timber construction could have a positive impact on the environment. It...

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LCA of MEP Systems and Tenant Improvements

This study explored the typical ranges of embodied carbon (and other impact measures) for mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) and tenant improvement (TI). This study is an extension of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for Low Carbon Construction Project. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality selected mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) and tenant improvement (TI) as...

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Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study

The Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study was the first stage of the LCA for Low Carbon Construction project funded by The Charles Pankow Foundation, Skanska USA and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the method used to quantify the carbon emissions that occur when extracting materials and making building products, otherwise known...

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Buy Clean Washington Study

On January 8, 2018, members of the Washington (WA) State House of Representatives introduced House Bill (HB) 2412 – Creating the Buy Clean Washington Act to the state legislature. Modeled after the Buy Clean California Act, HB 2412 proposed that WA state agencies awarding construction contracts require environmental product declarations (EPDs) for an eligible list...

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Developing a Prevention through Design Guide for Worker Safety

This project aims to identify best practices when implementing the PtD concept to improve worker safety, as applicable to Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing (MEP) design and construction. The identification will lead to synthesizing and reporting best implementation practices and exemplary cases from a number of leading MEP design companies and contractors with input from MEP professionals, workers, and safety managers, which will benefit the overall industry.

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Grow a Greener Data Center with Google

In partnership with Google, this project aims to conduct and document an innovative studio/seminar around the common theme of data center design and engineering with the goal of exploring sustainable solutions to the rapid growth of cloud computing.

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Clean Hands Collective

Seattle is a city known for its homelessness crisis—in 2015, the City declared a homelessness state of emergency, and today we have the third largest population of homeless individuals in the country. When businesses and public buildings closed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the unhoused suddenly had even less access to hand washing...

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Washington State Apartment Market Report

Since the Fall 2017 survey, Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors (D+S) ceased operations and no longer provide market data for 5 counties in the Puget Sound region (King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Thurston). In Spring 2018, surveys were conducted by WCRER in cooperation with several key management companies in the area to produce interim statistics...

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Washington State Housing Market Report

Washington State’s Housing Market is a publication of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) at the University of Washington. At least quarterly, WCRER receives data on single-family home sales from each multiple listing service located in, or providing market coverage to, Washington communities. In 2012, data on nearly 69,000 home transactions were received and processed.

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Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Project (Project SafeHaven)

The Institute for Hazards Mitigation Planning and Research is determining locations for artificial tsunami refuges along the Washington Coast. This a continuation of an Institute initiative that let to the construction of structures in Tokeland and Westport, Washington.

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Sound Communities

Sound Communities envisions a Puget Sound region where all of us live in vibrant, thriving communities with access to public transit and amenities, giving us the freedom to make our best lives for ourselves and our families. Our mission is to promote the development of complete, walkable, equitable and inclusive neighborhoods at scale across the Puget Sound region in concert with the region’s historic investment in transit.

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The Nehemiah Initiative

The Nehemiah Initiative Seattle seeks to assist community members facing the effects of rising costs and gentrification to combat displacement in Seattle’s rapidly changing Central District. The project began in 2018 in response to rising concern in the Black community of the Central District about loss of historic character and community culture. As Seattle experiences...

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Urban Microbiome

Interest in the microbial element of ecosystems has recently led to significant efforts to understand how the microbial components of the human gut influence health outcomes for individuals. This work is now known as being focused on the Human Micriobiome. The growing interest in the linkages between human well-being and microbial systems has also led...

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Understanding Community Behaviors and Attitudes for Resilience

The overarching goal of the project is to understand and model ways in which we can leverage unique – and interconnected – physical and social characteristics of place to enhance community adaptive capacity in response to disruptions.  This first phase (one-year) sets the stage for that line of inquiry by exploring and assessing the state...

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Smart Cities & Information Security

Recent products in this line of research investigate data releases at municipalities and in medical clinics. One is an examination of and policy recommendations for municipal open data, considering the public interest in privacy and social justice, as well as efficiency and convenience. Another is the comparative transaction cost economic evaluation of medical care in...

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Tornado Resilience and Sustainability

Strong winds such as those produced by tornadoes and hurricanes have resulted in billions of dollars in damage annually and continue to threaten the safety of building occupants. Much of the U.S. that is susceptible to these hazards also has expansive soils; slab-on-grade construction in such areas is commonplace. The building design will be optimized...

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Magnitude 9 Earthquake Scenarios

Magnitude 9 Earthquake Scenarios – Probabilistic Modeling, Warnings, Response and Resilience in the Pacific Northwest (“M9”) The M9 Project is a team of experts whose goal is to reduce catastrophic potential effects of a Cascadia megathrust earthquake on social, built, and natural environments through the advancement of methodologies, early warnings, and community planning. A magnitude nine...

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Embodied Carbon in Construction (EC3)

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, is a FREE and EASY TO USE tool that allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon per material category, focused on the upfront (Stage A1-A3) supply chain emissions of construction materials. Now hosted and managed by Building Transparency, a new 501c3 organization, the EC3 tool was incubated at...

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Educating Design Activists in Landscape Architecture

The field of landscape architecture is experiencing a surge of interest in design for transformative social outcomes broadly defined as design activism. As evident in recent award-winning student entries as well as common topics among studio projects and study abroad programs, socially engaged design and professional responses to urgent social and environmental challenges has become...

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Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics in an Urban Planet

Urban Eco Evo NET is a new NSF funded research network to advance the study and understanding of eco-evolutionary dynamics in an urban planet. The network will explore four central questions: 1. What is the evidence for urban signatures of phenotypic change distinct from natural and other anthropogenic drivers? 2. To what degree does urban...

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Coupled Human-Natural Systems

UERL’s research on coupled human-natural systems examines the dynamics of urban ecosystems to test hypotheses about how human-dominated ecosystems evolve through these complex interactions. The most recent project uses GIS analysis to explore “Urban Signatures of Socio-Ecological Innovation”. The project uses data from 100 cities across the United States to examine whether there are emergent...

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Climate Smart Capital Investment Planning

A methodology for capital investment planning that assists municipalities in selecting and prioritizing resilient, low carbon infrastructure for investment. This methodology is being produced for the World Bank and implemented by the World Bank in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, UN-Habitat, C40 Cities, and Bloomberg Foundation.

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