Spring 2010 Course Description

Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Section Title: Housing Practices & Public Policies: Sustainability for Low Income Informal Settlements in the Southern USA
Instructor(s): Peter Ward
Course: P A 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy
(previously Seminar in Topics in Public Policy)
Unique Number: 62485
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.214
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Notes: Cross List with SOC 395D; CRP388

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: This cross-listed course with the LBJ School of Public Affairs (PA388K) and Community and Regional Planning (CRP388) is a research-and-teaching project forms part of the core “Urban Sustainability” doctoral program in the School of Architecture. The class will explore low-cost sustainable technology applications and policy development proposals for installation and retrofitting lower-income homes in the Southern parts of the USA. These will include so-called colonias in the border region; informal homestead subdivisions in the peri-urban areas of metropolitan areas in Texas; as well as in inner urban and first suburb neighborhoods of Austin. The seminar course will involve fieldwork in major cities such as Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso. It will lead to a capstone conference in April 2010.

Previous policy oriented classes at the LBJ School have explored housing practices in Latin American and Southern US cities; Low densities and densification policies for colonias; intermediate technology drainage and wastewater systems. This course will build upon those class materials and will explore best practices and applications for sustainable (low-income) housing development throughout the Americas.

The primary task of the class will be to figure out how to incorporate renewable energy elements into low income housing technologies. In we will focus upon the adaptation (and production) of low cost solar panels to provide warm water and energy suitable for low-income householder needs in informal homestead subdivisions and colonias. These new approaches will be set within a broader understanding of the nature of these housing production systems, and other aspects of sustainability in such areas – intermediate technology for drainage and wastewater systems; fiscal sustainability; and social sustainability (mobilization of human capital); juridical sustainability & inheritance; and how best to introduce such research into the policy and legislative process.

In Southern climatic conditions solar panels especially could provide significant energy supplementation. Solar water heating panels, especially, may be expected to generate warm water for household needs, and can be retrofitted to traditional gas water heaters with savings of up to 80% of normal water heating costs. The seminar will investigate what technologies already exist (or are under development) and the potential for adaptation and production at low cost. It will also examine such applications might be integrated within new and existing housing structures and lot arrangements (either as roof components or as stand-alone panels in the yard). Associated with the integration of renewable energy components would be insulation technology improvements. All these elements form part of the Obama Administration’s current thinking and stimulus package. What is absent from these discussions is more general thinking about how to develop and provide incentives for widespread applications among poorer neighborhoods; how to develop NGO and local community involvement and participation; and how to embed such initiatives within the statewide and city legislative process.

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