Turner on Cooling Effects of New Urbanist Design

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner spoke to Congress for the New Urbanism about passive cooling and other green design characteristics in Civano, a New Urbanist neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona. White roofs contribute to lower land surface temperature, but reducing mean radiant temperature (MRT) is also important for alleviating the heat that people feel. Shade provided by buildings and trees reduces both land surface temperature and mean radiant temperature. “Features of design that produce shade through orientation of built structures and smart use of vegetation like the alleys, plazas and washes … have a definite co-benefit of reducing MRT,” said Turner, who serves as co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She explained that New Urbanist design creates more shade than spread-out, single-story sprawl. “We find that three-dimensional attributes of design are more important for cooling pedestrians because shade blocks sunlight from surfaces — and people — in the first place,” she said.

Some New Faces, Some Familiar Faces in New Roles Academic year brings new employees, plus many prior employees whose roles had changed

By Stan Paul

As the Luskin School emerged from 18 months of COVID isolation to start the 2021-22 academic year, it was with several new employees in place. In addition, some prior employees had moved to new roles. Here’s a cross-section of changes:


Nael Rogers has joined UCLA Luskin in a new student support role designed to assist graduate students in navigating university systems while
at UCLA.

Originally from Chicago, Rogers started this summer as the new student support coordinator and brings a wide breadth of experience to the Luskin School.

The new position is focused primarily on — but not limited to — underrepresented students, said Assistant Dean Julie Straub. Rogers will work closely with graduate students studying public policy, social welfare and urban planning, as well as students in the public affairs major.

Rogers, who is available to students in-person and virtually throughout the year, describes the coordinator role as a “one-stop information hub” to help guide students to a variety of services located across campus, “basically, a centralized liaison of student services.”

The position also includes an emphasis on advocacy for the well-being of students and providing advice and assistance to students and scholars regarding U.S. visa and immigration procedures, compliance issues and eligibility.

Rogers also will help coordinate student-led support groups and be a resource for students looking for additional help outside of the School.

“Sometimes, students might not have time, so they can stop by and see what I can do from my end,” said Rogers, who is currently completing a Ph.D. in English at Claremont Graduate University and has prior experience as an English instructor and in a number of advising and student support roles.

Kevin Medina has made the move to Luskin’s Career Services suite as the School’s new director. Medina, who earned MPP and MSW degrees in 2016, returned to Luskin in 2019 to serve as the inaugural capstone advisor for the new Public Affairs undergraduate major.

In spring 2021, he stepped in as interim graduate advisor for Public Policy during staff transition. Medina started his new position in October and said as the new director of Career Services that he looks forward to working with Luskin master’s and doctoral students.


Veronica Terriquez, a UCLA alumna who returned this year as a professor of urban planning, is now director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center.

The center, which is part of UCLA’s Institute of American Cultures, supports intersectional research, programming and advocacy related to Chicano, Latino and Indigenous communities.

Terriquez, who has a dual appointment with UCLA College, became the 10th director in the center’s 51-year history and its first female leader. Terriquez joined UCLA from UC Santa Cruz. “I’m thrilled to be able to direct a center whose mission is to leverage original research on U.S. Latinx communities in order to have an impact on the campus, higher education and the broader society,” Terriquez said.

Kian Goh, assistant professor of urban planning, has been named associate faculty director at the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy.

Goh studies the politics around cities’ responses to climate change, and her global perspective will bolster the institute’s efforts to pair critical thought with social movements and activism in the interest of combating societal inequalities.

Her recently published book, “Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice,” explores the politics of urban climate change responses in different cities and the emergence of grassroots activism in resistance.

She said the institute is a leader in working with and alongside movement-based organizations fighting
for change.

“This type of positional research is more attuned to how structural power actually works,” Goh said. “And it’s what I think the Institute on Inequality and Democracy does incredibly well. I’m so excited to be part of it.”

Urban Planning Professor Susanna Hecht has been named director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies, an interdisciplinary research center.

Hecht is a specialist on tropical development in Latin America, especially Amazonia, focusing on the intersections of economies, cultures and land use.

Her work spans climate change, mitigation and the rethinking of longer-term strategies in light of globalization, intense migration and novel climate dynamics.

She holds joint appointments in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of geography at UCLA.

Michael Stoll, a longtime professor of public policy and urban planning, is the new director of the Black Policy Project at UCLA, which is affiliated with the Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Stoll outlined several major goals as director: commissioning a report that will look at the demographic changes of Black California; a research project that highlights wealth inequity in the state; and playing a supportive role for the state’s new task force on reparations, the first of its kind in the country.

He said all research will include student workers and the aim is to create materials that are accessible and meaningful to policymakers and the public at large.

“We want to be a good public ally and create accessible research for the layperson, information that engages in affairs that are of interest to and about Black California,” Stoll said. “We are gathering data and will produce reports that provide evidence-based information that can drive policy discussion.”

Stoll also plans to build on a study he first launched nearly 20 years ago, an overall analysis of “the state of Black California,” which will include an equality index with a number of dimensions that will paint a picture of how Black residents have fared when it comes to socioeconomic progress over the last two decades. Early census indicators show overall population declines, major suburban neighborhood shifts and big changes in traditional Black communities.


Kelly Turner and Greg Pierce, researchers and faculty members in urban planning, are now leading the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation as interim co-directors.

They stepped in upon the departure of former director JR DeShazo, who left UCLA Luskin in August to become dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. (Among those continuing on the LCI leadership team were Jisung Park as associate director and Colleen Callahan as founding deputy director.)

As co-directors, Turner and Pierce said they will focus on environmental equity as well as climate adaptation.

Significant research commitments are already under way, said Pierce, an adjunct assistant professor of urban planning who also directs water-related research for the Luskin Center for Innovation, and the center is “moving ahead at
full steam.”

“JR built a fantastic enterprise at Luskin Center and the momentum is there,” said Turner, an assistant professor of urban planning and geography.

Turner said her emphasis would be on the center’s climate adaptation research portfolio.

“We have a lot of momentum right now, especially on work on urban heat and extreme heat,” said Turner, who previously helped lead urban environment research at the center. “Between wildfires and extreme heat events and all the various problems we’re having, our work is more important than ever,” she said.


Turner on Framing the Heat Narrative to Find Solutions

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner explored the question “How do we change?” as a guest speaker on an episode of the UCLA lecture series “10 Questions: If not now, when?” Turner discussed her own work on cool pavement, climate change, and the way that different narratives surrounding heat can point to different solutions. “I never thought that cool pavement would be the most political thing that I would study,” Turner said. She highlighted the importance of incorporating equity into the conversation about heat and climate change, noting that only about 25% of city plans use an equity narrative. “We know that heat is one of the most inequitable consequences of climate change,” she said. Turner also explained that “changing the problem framing can unlock new legal doors.” For example, she pointed out that there is no government entity that regulates heat the way that air and water pollution are regulated.

Turner Calls for Equitable, Coordinated Approach to Extreme Heat

Extreme heat events — such as the road-buckling, record-smashing temperatures seen throughout the West this past summer — are becoming more deadly and common in a rapidly changing climate. Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner, who also serves as the co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, co-authored a new article in Nature dissecting the issue of extreme heat and outlining the necessary components of an equitable strategy to address the crisis. Unlike with fires and floods, no single government body is responsible for managing extreme heat, making it difficult to implement effective strategies that protect communities. “Protecting people from extreme heat will require a coordinated and well-researched government approach,” Turner said. “This is especially crucial for advancing equity and reducing the disproportionate effect heat has on people of color and low-income communities.” The authors of the paper laid out several key actions to address the issue of extreme heat. First, they recommended advancing heat equity by investigating how communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by extreme heat events. Next, they recommended expanding research on the effectiveness of different interventions as well as associated risks and tradeoffs of different strategies. They also suggested that governments work together to integrate and coordinate plans for measuring and combating extreme heat. Finally, they proposed building programs and institutions dedicated to heat management and expanding research in the field. Turner and her colleagues emphasized the importance of coordinated, strategic and equity-focused action in order to manage extreme heat.

Vulnerable Populations Need Cooling, Turner Says

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner spoke to the Guardian about the role of air conditioning and shade as a response to climate change. As temperatures rise, new technologies are emerging as an alternative to air conditioning, which itself is a contributor to the climate crisis. It’s necessary to tackle the fundamental problems that make cities hotter, said Turner, but in the meantime, “we will need some air conditioning because [without it], you can’t get your core temperature cool enough if you’re exposed to really extreme heat.” Air conditioning is especially important for vulnerable populations including outdoor agricultural and construction laborers, children, elderly people and low-income renters, said Turner, who is co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She added, “If you want to cool people, you have to provide shade” to protect people’s bodies from the direct heat of the sun. 

Turner on Starting Climate Conversations With Art

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner spoke to Smart Cities Dive about how to combine art with climate change action and awareness. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston recently published a guidebook that encourages communities and artists to develop creative approaches to shade and cooling infrastructure. “When we talk about heat, a portion of it is climate change, but a portion of it is how we choose to build and divide a city,” said Turner, who studies how the urban heat island effect makes cities without green spaces hotter. She developed the idea of using cooling reflective paint in a public art project and rallied community partners to create an enormous cool-paint mural of Zeus in South Los Angeles. Turner said the mural was designed to start a conversation about climate change. “You can show people statistics, but they feel art,” she said. “I think there’s power there.”

Turner on Building Heat Resilient Communities

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner joined the America Adapts Podcast and the Smart Community Podcast to discuss ways to build heat resilient cities and address heat inequity. According to Turner, heat governance is in its infancy. “We don’t have institutions that are responsible for regulating heat at the local, state or federal level,” she said. Turner explained that there is a difference between the acute problem of extreme heat risk and the chronic problem of the urban heat island effect. “Not all urban heat is extreme, and not all extreme heat is urban, and you can’t necessarily solve both at the same time,” she said. Turner also discussed the tradeoffs of different heat interventions such as cool pavement, which effectively combats the urban heat island effect but is “not a substitute for shade.” She recommended engaging with communities to learn how people experience heat in order to make cities better places for people to live.

Turner on Challenges of Regulating Urban Heat

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner joined the Talking Headways podcast to discuss different ways to regulate urban heat. The regional urban heat island effect is a climate phenomenon affecting urban areas with buildings and pavement that absorb and radiate heat, making these regions hotter than surrounding areas. However, Turner noted that thermal images that show land surface temperature can be misleading because they don’t illustrate how people are actually exposed to heat. “When I see interventions being proposed like tree-planting programs, I think we need to be careful and say, yeah, we might be providing shade that will be good for pedestrian thermal comfort — shade’s super important — but we’re not addressing the urban heat island,” Turner said. “What we’re doing is just a drop in the bucket, shifting from one climate zone to a fundamentally different arrangement of trees and buildings that would actually be cooler.” 

Listen to the Talking Headways podcast

Turner on Increasing Opportunities for Shade

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner was featured in a National Geographic article about the importance of shade in cities like Los Angeles that are growing hotter due to climate change. Urban design in Los Angeles has prioritized access to the sun, with many city codes determining how much shadow buildings can cast. However, climate change has increased the frequency and severity of heat waves, increasing the risk of heat-related death and illness. Furthermore, predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods have fewer parks and trees and less access to shade than white neighborhoods. While asphalt and concrete absorb and release captured heat, contributing to the urban heat island effect, planting trees and creating shade can keep buildings cooler, lowering the risk of heat-related illness. “The really simple thing, if you care about making people more comfortable, is just to offer more opportunities for shade,” Turner said.

It’s Time to Protect Cities From Extreme Heat, Turner Writes

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner wrote a Next City op-ed about the need for federal regulations to address extreme heat in urban areas. The urban heat island effect makes cities warmer than surrounding rural areas by up to 22 degrees. “Cities are hotter because of how we build them, and they can be cooler if we build them differently,” she explained. Heat waves have become more frequent and severe, and Turner noted that they disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color and reduce educational achievement for Black and Hispanic students. Turner proposed a Cool Communities Act that would regulate the production of urban heat by setting standards for building materials and rules for land use. For example, cool roofs that reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it can be up to 50 degrees cooler than standard roofs. “We may not be able to change the weather,” Turner wrote. “But we can turn down the heat through sensible cool communities standards.”