Monthly Archives: May 2014

Kathleen Araujo and the emerging field of energy transitions

wind and hydropower“Energy transitions are an unmistakable part of today’s public discourse. Whether shaped by fuel price fluctuation, environmental and security concerns, aspects of technology change, or goals to improve energy access, attention regularly turns to ways in which to improve energy pathways. Yet what is understood about energy system change is still emerging.” In a recent article, EPP Alum Kathleen Araujo (PhD, 2013) explores the evolving field of energy transitions with an aim to connect and enlarge the scholarship. Kathleen discusses examples of energy transitions, while providing analysis of the core ideas on trade-offs, urgency, and innovation. She also reviews global developments in energy, related mega-trends, the sources of the data we use to analyze energy, and opportunities for further research. Dr. Kathleen Araujo is a research fellow with the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program and Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She will move to Stony Brook University, where she will work as an Assistant Professor in the Technology and Society Department, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. If you are an alumnus/a of the EPP program and have recently published or produced research, please send your notices to Takeo Kuwabara, so we can share your achievements as well.  To see a complete copy of Dr. Araujo’s article, click here.

No Idling: Parking Policy in Growing Cities

ImageThere are few urban issues that touch as many nerves as parking, which resides in the often uncomfortable overlap of transportation, environmental protection, land use, and economic growth. To determine how much parking cities should have—and where that parking should be—a wide variety of stakeholder need to interact in a complex political process. Debates over parking policy, it turns out, are rarely just about parking.

In her thesis, Cara Ferrentino (MCP ’13) took a close look at the formation of parking policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She shows how three distinct groups—the “growth coalition”, “limited growth” advocates, and “smart growth” bureaucrats—have nudged the city into adopting and reforming policies regarding parking supply.

Cambridge was forced to confront parking in the 1970s, when EPA regulations enforced a mandatory parking freeze on the city’s non-residential parking supply to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act. But, driven by concerns over the freeze’s impact on Cambridge’s commercial growth, the city lifted the freeze in 1997 and adopted instead a variety of demand-side approaches to managing parking supply. Today, Cambridge uses a number of incentives to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation. These are often implemented in cooperation with the city’s major employers.

Cara evaluates the success of these efforts and finds that, while many employers have taken steps to encourage alternative transportation, the city nonetheless builds more non-residential parking than it uses. She notes that the city will need to rethink both the supply side and the demand side of parking policy in the near future if it is going to provide just the right amount of parking in all the right places. Read more about the past, present, and future of parking policy in Cambridge in Cara’s thesis.