students working on designs at desk

The Presidential Initiative is intended to foster excellence and preeminence in urban and place-based research and creative work at CU Denver through offering funding, coordinating faculty across campus, communicating outcomes, enabling connections with partners in the community, and serving as a resource for sharing data and best practices. In so doing, it is intended to both increase the impact of CU Denver’s urban and place-based research and creative work, and to attract and fund faculty and students interested in this domain. While focused on urban issues generally, the Initiative emphasizes work relevant to the Front Range, particularly when it has implications nationally or internationally.

The Initiative funds projects that address critical and timely topics related to cities, such as:  Social and Environmental Justice, Equity and Inclusion, Affordable Housing, Plan Making, Public Spaces, Global Cities, Smart Cities, Urban Informatics, Artificial Intelligence for Cities, Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility, Climate Adaptation, Green Infrastructure, Air and Water Quality, Urban Ecology, Biomimicry, Green Real Estate Development, Public Health, Water and Energy Use, Natural Hazards Mitigation, Environmental Policy, Public Finance, Historic Preservation, Creative Industries, Placemaking, Community Development, Arts and Urban Revitalization, Healthcare Access, Economic Development, Behavioral Economics, Education Policy and Practice, Public Policy and Governance, Public Safety, Public Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Urban Design, Construction Management, and much more.

The 2021 Request for Proposals for seed grants  is now closed. Full descriptions of the projects awarded in the 2020 round of funding are given from the links below.

2021 Award Recipients

Integrated Solar Energy for Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Communities

Date: 10/1/2020
power outages
Principal Researchers: Serena Kim

Unit: School of Public Affairs

Project Abstract:
Accessing clean, reliable, and affordable energy is integral to sustainable, resilient, and equitable communities. While some areas in Colorado have taken advantage of solar rebates and financial incentives and have incorporated solar energy into their energy portfolio, other areas have lagged behind in their energy transition. The gap between leading and laggard areas raises important equity concerns as cities and neighborhoods with greater capacity will disproportionately benefit from renewable energy development. In order to ensure fair and equitable access to renewable energy technologies, we need a more comprehensive understanding of the determinants of renewable energy deployment, including community demographics, local policy, and energy market conditions. We focus on four activities to understand geographical disparities in solar photovoltaic deployment.

First, we will build a machine learning algorithm to obtain an accurate estimation of solar photovoltaic density in Colorado using satellite imagery. Second, we will build a solar-specific natural language processing model and measure public opinion toward solar energy using data from Twitter. Third, we will examine whether the geographical disparities in solar deployment correlate to public sentiment at the city level and the place-based factors, such as demographics, public policy, and energy market conditions. Fourth, based on the results of this examination, we will identify four case study cities in Colorado and conduct in-depth interviews with community stakeholders, to understand community-specific opportunities and challenges for solar photovoltaic deployment. This project will provide a robust list of energy transition and planning strategies for allowing marginalized communities to benefit more from renewable energy development. 

View project updates from the 2021 Fall Research Showcase [PDF]

Serena Kim Bio:
Serena Kim is a Scholar in Residence in the School of Public Affairs. She studies how public opinion, energy market, public policy, and institutional arrangements shape renewable energy transition. Her work has appeared in Energy Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Policy & Politics, Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, Urban Planning, and Journal of Environment & Development. 

2020 Award Recipients