Policy & Governance


Policy and governance instruments will be critical in supporting sustainable urban infrastructure transitions. Decisions at all levels of government can influence the adoption of infrastructure innovations or they can entrench exiting path dependencies, in turn making change difficult. For example, current regulations and policy in many cities limit water reuse, micro-grid integration, and urban agriculture.

Disruptive technologies and infrastructure innovations can be powerful transition drivers, but virtually all will need accompanying policy guidance to ensure that widespread deployment of new technology does not lead to unintended negative consequences (e.g. self-driving cars leading to increased sprawl and vehicle miles traveled). New governance mechanisms and institutions, both formal and informal, will need to evolve in order to strike an appropriate balance that effectively facilitates, rather than impedes, sustainable infrastructure transitions driven by new technologies and infrastructure reconfiguration.

While it is important to design smart policies at individual scales of government, sustainable urban infrastructure transitions also demand sophisticated coordination of policy actors across infrastructure sectors & levels of government (e.g., city sustainability offices, metropolitan planning organizations, & regional entities).

The network’s policy and governance research efforts focus on understanding the most effective policy and governance configurations that support infrastructure transitions via redesign, reconfiguration, and technological innovation. Similarly, network researchers are working to identify the motivations of different policy and governance actors for investing in or supporting sustainable urban infrastructure transitions.


All-city Carbon Emissions: Understanding City Types and Impact

  • February 2018
  • Podcast
  • Author: Anu Ramaswami

It is common practice to consider the carbon emissions of single cities. But what happens when you analyze carbon emissions for all cities in a country using nationally aligned data? … Read more

What Affects Local Government Climate Policy Adoption?

  • November 2017
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Multiple

Why do local governments in the US voluntarily adopt climate policies or climate protection plans when they could easily “free load” on the climate actions of other jurisdictions? A study … Read more

Policy and Planning Opportunities of Self-Driving Vehicles

  • November 2017
  • Video
  • Author: Frank Douma

The “future” of self-driving vehicles is quickly becoming reality. As these technologies make their way into the vehicles that get us from point A to point B, they are beginning … Read more

Overcoming collective action barriers to energy sustainability

  • November 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Yi, H., Feiock, R.C., & F.S. Berry. (2017). Overcoming collective action barriers to energy sustainability: A longitudinal study of climate protection accord adoption by local governments. Renewable and Sustainable Energy … Read more

Regional Modeling of Shared Autonomous Vehicle Travel Patterns, Preferences and Impacts

  • August 2017
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Jun Liu, Kara Kockelman, Patrick Boesch, Francesco Ciari

How does a system of shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) perform in a metropolitan region when modeled to mimic real-world daily travel behaviors? Will SAVs return sustainability gains for metropolitan regions … Read more

Regional Governance and Institutional Collective Action for Environmental Sustainability

  • June 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Yi, H., Suo, L., Shen, R., Zhang, J., Ramaswami, A., & R.C. Feiock. Regional Governance and Institutional Collective Action for Environmental Sustainability. Public Administration Review, 78(4). ABSTRACT: This research investigates … Read more

Urban Pressures and Innovations: Sustainability Commitment in the Face of Fragmentation and Inequality

  • April 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Deslatte, A., Feiock R. Wassel, K. (2017).  “Urban Pressures and Innovations: Sustainability Commitment in the Face of Fragmentation and Inequality.” Review of Policy Research, 34(5): 700–724. ABSTRACT: Local government innovations occur … Read more

Hotspot Analysis and Strategic Siting of Green Infrastructure to Maximize Ecosystem Service Provision

  • March 2017
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Sara Meerow and Josh Newell

Ecosystem services are the social and ecological benefits that are provided to humans by the natural environment. Where should cities strategically locate green infrastructure (GI) to address the needs of … Read more

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