About Us

The California Center for Sustainable Communities

The mission of the California Center for Sustainable Communities is to create actionable science that improves the sustainability of urban systems.  It is to provide the intellectual and conceptual framework for new synthesis and thinking in sustainability research.

For cities to remain habitable, profound changes need to occur both in cities themselves and in the ways they impact the surrounding landscapes and hinterlands. Sustainability is an approach that directly addresses this difficult challenge and acknowledges that it can’t be done if the needs of the present are met by compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Achieving progress toward sustainability requires maintaining and improving both human and ecosystem well-being. Our challenge is to make cities centers of sustainability in the ways they develop and redevelop beyond the next century.

Main research themes

  • Urban Metabolism methods and quantification of L.A County.
  • Integrated social-biophysical research on human environmental interactions and their impacts and feedback loops.
  • Social justice and urban environmental sustainability through revitalizing and renaturalizing the urban environment.
  • Research and analysis of systems of governance and government for democratic accountability and greater sustainability.
  • Energy Systems and California Communities
  • Analysis of L.A. County’s water governance system, with a focus on management and distribution.

Research Focus: Los Angeles and the Pacific Southwest

The Los Angeles basin is one of the world’s largest and most diverse urban centers. Heavily developed and populated, it is located in one of the country’s most biodiverse ecological regions, and suffers from some of the nation’s worst air pollution, traffic congestion, and threats to ecosystem diversity.  Economic development and income is strikingly unequal throughout the region, with accompanying health, education and housing disparities.  With over 13 million people, encompassing five counties, hundreds of cities, and thousands of special districts, it is politically complex as well.  Thus it offers an extraordinary laboratory for the California Center for Sustainable Communities, to engage in coupled bio-social research so we understand the relationships between human society and environmental change.

Read more about our team and our Director, Dr. Pincetl.


Photo by Lily Abagyan, license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0