The Senior Capstone is the culminating experience for Sustainable Built Environment majors involving a substantive project that demonstrates a synthesis of learning accumulated in the major, including broadly comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and its methodologies. It is intended to be a personalized experience in which a student explores a concept in-depth while incorporating the knowledge or investigative techniques learned during his or her undergraduate career. Students are encouraged to build upon their major Emphasis Area, internship, or a previously completed project or research topic for the starting point of their Senior Capstone experience.


For more information, please visit: http://sbe.arizona.edu.

Recent Submissions

  • Landscape Disconnect: A Study of the City of Tucson's Landscapes in the 20th Century

    Apanovich, Nataliya; Martin, Ashley; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    The City of Tucson, Arizona, lies within the Sonoran Desert, yet a large portion of landscapes don’t reflect this ecosystem. The 20th Century brought about this disconnect, which is reflected in how we develop our urban greens spaces. Through the investigation of Tucson’s history with urban green spaces, we find that modern technology mixed with unrealistic ideals fueled an increase in exotic plant species use in commercial and residential landscaping. Through city-wide education programs, increased water use rates, and the implementation of native plant focused ordinances, the city was able mend some past mistakes in developing. Today, there is work we can be doing to improve our efforts, with 83% of residents from a local survey requesting more information on the benefits of Arizona native plants.
  • Improving Recycling at the University of Arizona: student behavior and attitudes

    Apanovich, Nataliya; Gammariello, Bethany; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Waste diversion at higher education institutions in the U.S. remains a growing issue. Recyclable materials that enter landfills have negative environmental impacts as well as expensive landfill service costs for universities. The University of Arizona partnered with a zero waste consulting firm to identify gaps in the current waste management operations by engaging with department head stakeholders, but did not include any form of student engagement. This research targeted the student body to identify ways to improve recycling and zero waste efforts on and around the University of Arizona campus. The research included surveying students about recycling and observations of recycling sites selected by the students. Recommendations were made following the observations and included increasing the amount of recycling bins, ensuring that recycling bins are adjacent to trash cans, standardizing the appearance of recycling bins with the help of labeling, color, and informative graphics, and finally increasing educational opportunities about recycling and zero waste efforts for students at the University of Arizona. Further research should include conducting more student surveys and engaging with the University of Arizona’s Office of Sustainability coordinators in charge of the zero waste campus program in order to identify further gaps and improvements in waste management operations.
  • Why the Sidewalk Ends: Analysis of Sidewalk Infrastructure in Tucson, Arizona

    Schrauth, Anna; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Inequitable sidewalk infrastructure perpetuates social inequalities. Furthermore, good sidewalk infrastructure has many health, social, and environmental benefits. To study the inequitable sidewalk infrastructure in Tucson, I did a case study analysis of two neighborhoods of different socio-economic status. The neighborhood with higher income levels had more and better sidewalks. I conducted interviews with neighborhood representatives and the city of Tucson professionals to understand why this was. I found that the main issues with current sidewalk development were that the funding sources are problematic and the responsibility for sidewalk development often ended up on the property owners or developers. To remedy these issues, I propose a new funding source, a development tax, and a city-run program to target areas in the greatest need of sidewalk infrastructure.
  • Pima County Wildfire Risk & the Dangers on Transmission Infrastructure

    Fink, Maxim; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Smith, Garrett; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    This research paper investigates the impact of wildfires on transmission infrastructure and proposes sustainable mitigation strategies to enhance the resilience of the electric grid in Pima County, Arizona. The study addresses the increasing vulnerability of transmission systems to wildfire risk and aims to identify specific areas at high risk within Pima County. Through geospatial mapping and risk assessment techniques, the study analyzes key variables including slope, elevation, aspect, and land use to understand their influence on wildfire behavior and transmission infrastructure susceptibility. Furthermore, the research explores sustainable alternatives to reduce reliance on the grid and increase resilience, including the adoption of distributed energy resources and demand-side management techniques. The study aims to provide valuable insights into mitigating wildfire-induced power outages and enhancing sustainability of energy systems in wildfire-prone regions.
  • Urban Heat and Their Toll

    Apanovich, Nataliya; Newberg, William; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Nataliya, Apanovich; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024)
    As more people move to cities and cities grow, this study explores the correlation between Urban Heat and Heat mortality. From 2011-2021 in Phoenix, AZ, heat caused mortality increases 3.6 people per 100,000 for each degree celsius caused by UH and heat related mortality increases 6.5 per 100,000 people. Data was collected from the MODIS NASA satellite and AZ Department of Health.
  • Navigating Green Building Certification, Sustainability, and Public Perception: Identifying and Understanding Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Green Building Practices in Smaller Municipalities

    Thomas, Deirdre; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Despite the growing prevalence of green building (GB) practices in larger urban centers, as highlighted by existing research, smaller municipalities face significant challenges in adopting these practices due to economic, social, and regulatory barriers. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study integrates a systematic literature review (SLR) with a 33-participant survey and nine follow-up interviews to gather qualitative and quantitative insights into the barriers and motivators affecting GB adoption in smaller municipalities. The findings identify that the main barriers are actual and perceived high costs, limited public awareness of certification programs, and inadequate municipal support. Key motivators for adopting GB practices were financial incentives and targeted public education to promote increased GB adoption. This study highlights the importance of adapting policy and community engagement approaches to bridge the knowledge gap, align stakeholder interests with sustainable objectives, and foster enhanced community sustainability, seeking to motivate a more widespread integration and acceptance of green building practices at the municipal level.
  • Determining Insulation Materials for Low-Income People in Rural Areas with an Innovative Technology

    Shorty, Damon; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Many rural low-income communities throughout the United States have families that are forced to live in houses that are poorly constructed, which can create a variety of health issues, reduce the quality of life, and increase energy burdens. Rural low-income people often have difficulties accessing home energy improvements, expert people, and/or technology. There are many technologies and techniques for testing the performance of insulation materials. This study investigates innovative technology to test the performance of various insulation materials that include fiberglass, mineral wool, expanded polystyrene, cellulose, and four developed composites. Testing was performed for one hour using innovative technology to measure the OSB sheathing/insulation material surface temperatures, chamber air temperatures, and relative humidity every five minutes. The performance data collected were analyzed after all insulation materials were individually tested. The innovative technology could perform consistent tests on insulation materials to show the user materials that could promote a stable interior environment. Insulation materials composed of cellulose outperformed other materials and can promote a circular economy in the targeted communities. Cellulose can resist a high amount of heat transfer, be sourced locally, is organic, and recyclable. Finding solutions to address the high energy usage of buildings from being insufficiently (or non) insulated is going to be a challenge in the years to come as climate change becomes more prevalent.
  • Closing the Loop: Harnessing Renewable Natural Gas from Agricultural Waste for Sustainable Farming and Environment

    Bobst, Johanna (Hanna); College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apanovich, Nataliya; Wong, Kenny (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Unlocking the transformative potential of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from agricultural waste holds the key to addressing environmental challenges while revolutionizing sustainability in farming. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in global food production but is also a significant contributor to environmental pollution through greenhouse gas emissions and improper waste management. Livestock farming generates substantial amounts of organic waste, including manure, which releases methane—a potent greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere. The overarching efforts of previous research on this issue derive from environmental agencies outside of the agricultural and RNG spaces, which created a binary approach and were thus unable to assess the full scope of the issues and potential solutions available. Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) production from agricultural waste provides a favorable solution to alleviate these environmental challenges by repurposing organic waste into a renewable energy source. There are significant benefits to the use of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) production sourced from agricultural waste, with a focus on livestock manure, as a solution to environmental challenges in agriculture. This research examines the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, the utilization of digestate with a focus on a circular economy, potential risks associated with feedstock supply, and the influence of scalability frameworks on RNG implementation. The findings demonstrate the substantial environmental benefits and highlight areas requiring further research and policy development to overcome the limitations and realize the full potential of RNG in agriculture.
  • Helical Piers. What is needed for the successful introduction of helical piers in Guilford County, NC.

    Bernal, Sandra; Beitz, Paul; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    In the face of a housing shortage and climate crisis, helical piers, a widespread technology used since the mid-1800’s, is a style of foundation that offers higher efficiency than traditional foundation types. This study focuses on why builders continually use traditional foundation building practices that take longer to install, require more skilled labor, and have larger embodied and operational carbon emissions associated with them, than building with helical piers. Currently the use of helical piers in new construction is non-existent in Guilford County, North Carolina. Interviews, a building performance survey, and observations allowed for the collection of data from homeowners, renters, building professionals, and building inspectors to better understand why this building technique has not been introduced. Outcomes are used to inform on the successful introduction of helical piers in Guilford County. The results revealed that most residents are unfamiliar with helical piers, contractors are nervous to try a new building system, and that Building Inspectors are open to more helical pier installations but see becoming a successful foundation system in Guilford County as a challenge. There are successful helical pier installers 100 miles south of Guilford County however, and the conclusion has recommendations on steps that can be taken to have a successful introduction of helical piers in Guilford County.
  • Efficient Campus, Sustainable Future: A Building Upgrade Study

    Rasburry, Jonathon; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    This case study comparative analysis explores the impact of energy efficiency upgrades on three buildings on a college campus in Arkansas. The study focuses on building design, use, and age as factors influencing the effectiveness of the upgrades. The buildings, referred to as Building A, Building B, and Building C due to owner restrictions, underwent efficiency upgrades including lighting and HVAC improvements. Utility bills for chilled water, electricity, steam, and water were collected twelve months before and after the upgrades. The results show a decrease in electricity and chilled water usage in all three buildings, indicating the effectiveness of the upgrades. Building benchmarking using the Arc tool allows engineering students at the college to track utility usage and learn how real-time conditions affect energy consumption. The study highlights the importance of consistent monitoring and analysis to optimize energy efficiency in buildings.
  • Tribal Wisdom and Sustainable Solutions: Addressing the Native American Housing Crisis through a Focus on Tribal Worldview and Sustainability

    Mears, Taylor; Stands Over Bull, Jeremy; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Examining the correlation between housing conditions and social inequalities among Native American communities reveals a striking manifestation of the ongoing crisis. This issue demands an analysis of its underlying reasons, the development of culturally sensitive solutions, and an evaluation of current methods in use. This research aims to seeks to understand the complexities of the Native American Housing Crisis through the analysis of: the historical, systemic, and socioeconomic roots of this crisis; the effectiveness of existing housing programs and policies to meet the self-determined needs of Native American communities within culturally specific frameworks; possible culturally-responsive solutions to empower tribes in developing and implementing a housing solution that is financially sustainable; the mandates, challenges, and opportunities that constitute the Native American Housing Crisis. Using oral communication and an autoethnography approach, this study identifies the longstanding need for sustainable housing, offering pathways for the positive reconstruction of Native American communities.
  • Understanding the Impact of California's Escalating Wildfire Crisis on Residents and the Necessity for Sustainable Adaptation

    Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny; Dengler, Kellen; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    California is facing a critical time in its history as the effects of climate change are manifesting themselves by way of yearly record-breaking wildfires all over the state. This crisis is quickly becoming the kind that demands urgent attention. Continuing to employ a plan of action based on the status quo and the historical way of doing things will no longer suffice. Further urban sprawl into now-fire-prone areas aggravates this issue and with residents receiving very little guidance and support from their local governments in this modern fight, it could be a recipe for disaster. The life-threatening implications of this situation are undeniable, making swift action imperative. This study uses a phenomenology-based research approach to examine the lived experiences of residents whose lives have been affected by wildfires with the goal of understanding those affects and uncovering what type of support is most needed. It integrates diverse data collection methods, both internally and externally from the University of Arizona library, a tailored survey, and detailed interviews. Several insights into the rapidly evolving nature of this issue as well as specific needs required by the affected communities were discovered.
  • A Human-Scale Redesign of University Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona

    Risser, Annika; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya; Apanovich, Nataliya; Wong, Kenny; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2024-05)
    Cities across the United States and the world have adopted Complete Streets principles in the design of streetscapes and roadways. Cities have also supported road closure to vehicle traffic at varying scales. These two strategies for sustainable development enhance the public benefit provided by streets. These benefits can include stronger social communities, safer roads across modes of transportation, and improved health of people and environments. This study proposes that Complete Streets principles be applied to University Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona to address current issues with sustainability on this road. This includes a lack of shade, seating, and infrastructure that results in an uncomfortable user experience for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. University Boulevard is adjacent to the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona and is a popular destination for dining and nightlife among students and long-time Tucson residents. Additionally, University Boulevard serves as a gateway to the University that many commuters rely on to get to school and work. By implementing the design proposed in this research, the City of Tucson can address current issues on this road. This article proposes that the City of Tucson adopt both Complete Streets and car-free principles to complete a sustainable redesign of University Boulevard and increase the public benefit for users of this two-block stretch of road from Park Avenue to Euclid Avenue. This research was designed to engage the public in the visioning process for a future redesign of this road and measure levels of support for the closure of University Boulevard to vehicle traffic, as well as the perceived need for human-scale, sustainable design elements in any future redevelopment proposals.
  • Frisco Future, a look to the role of sustainability in earthquake prone cities and how to prepare Downtown San Francisco for year 2043

    PALOMINO, LUIS; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    This research offers a thorough plan for incorporating environmentally friendly architectural systems in Downtown San Francisco to improve the area's resistance to earthquakes and encourage environmental sustainability. The analysis highlights the urgent necessity of upgrading the urban core with buildings that meet LEED certification requirements and make use of green building principles against the high-stakes backdrop of seismic susceptibility. The study describes a number of sustainable interventions by analyzing the potential of Downtown San Francisco, a region distinguished by its dense population, economic significance, and historical landmarks. These consist of using recycled materials, installing water-saving fixtures, and implementing energy-efficient technology. The innovative vision for San Francisco or Frisco Futura capitalizes on three methods. First, a comparative analysis of 6 cities that had experienced catastrophic earthquakes, three in the global South and three in the global north. Then a site analysis that addresses San Francisco unique position as a hub for technical talent and financial resources. Lastly, a critical analysis of the creative examples provided by worldwide sustainability projects like the Telosa (Located at Nevada, USA) and Songdo IBD (Located at Songdo, South Korea) masterplans. The research highlights the synergy between private investment and municipal support as a catalyst for change, emphasizing the critical role of public-private partnerships in achieving this aim. -Result lead is to create a resilient urban environment that serves the long-term needs of sustainable living as well as the short-term requirements of earthquake preparedness, putting Downtown San Francisco at the forefront of urban innovation and resilience.
  • Sustainability and solutions to misleading perceptions

    Lopez Quispe, Shirley Sadith; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Apranovich, Nataliya; Wong, Kenny; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    This research thoroughly examines the subjective standards used to assess the quality of neighborhoods, including perceptions of beauty and overall standing. Central to this study is the evaluation of how the Broken Windows Theory supports or contradicts the evaluation of neighborhoods affected by sociocultural, economic, and environmental challenges. The systematic literature review, site analysis, and perception analysis via focus groups aim to identify sustainable solutions that may be mislabeled based on appearance rather than their genuine environmental purpose. Results account for scenarios that apply to Peru and the US, and the conclusion involves a series of informed recommendations that merge the benefits of the BWT and a sustainable-oriented approach to neighborhood adaptation.

    Solano, Adriana; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    Amidst the burgeoning demand for sustainable urban design, the project in San Juan de Lurigancho emerges as a paragon, integrating climate-appropriate landscaping, local culture, and environmental stewardship. This study explores the potential of playgrounds to transcend traditional play areas, evolving into sustainable, nature-infused spaces that foster community engagement and cater to the needs of both children and their caregivers. Employing a methodological triangulation of academic research, community surveys, and on-site analysis, the study garners a holistic view of the community's aspirations. Survey results reveal a strong preference for sustainable materials and a significant desire to reconnect with nature, emphasizing the community's inclination towards environmentally conscious spaces that promote interaction with the local ecosystem. The envisioned prototype not only addresses the socio-environmental imperatives of urban design but also acts as a scalable model for global urban centers, reflecting a shift towards multifunctional recreational spaces. Future steps include broader community engagement for co-design processes, material exploration to ensure durability in San Juan de Lurigancho's climate, and the incorporation of culturally resonant design elements. This comprehensive approach promises to deliver playgrounds that are not only functional but also emblematic of the community's spirit, with a focus on safety and sustainable upkeep.

    Apanovich, Nataliya; OBLITAS, MARIA FERNANDA; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya; Apanovich, Nataliya (The University of Arizona., 2023)
    Air quality is important to people’s health. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to clean air, including the residents of Callao district in Lima, Peru. This study aims to assess Callao’s residents’ perceptions of air quality. Specifically, it analyzes the residents’ awareness of the link between air quality and human and environmental health. Understanding this link can help the residents and the city to come up with appropriate strategies to educate the public about the dangers of polluted air and propose ways to address these issues. The study surveyed 101 residents of Callao district using a sequential, qualitative, mixed-methods approach. The results indicate that the respondents understood the link between air quality and the environment but failed to see a connection between air quality and their own health. Even though the respondents didn’t understand this link, they directed their behaviors toward remediating their health through green spaces, such as parks. To help more people improve their health, there needs to be more information available on the link between air quality and well-being.
  • Visual Connections with Nature in Residential Buildings: A Study of Health and Well-being in Lima's San Miguel District

    Apanovich, Nataliya; Vera Suarez, Maria Jose; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra; Wong, Kenny (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    In the urban district of San Miguel in Lima, Peru, a study delved into the impact of biophilic design—integrating natural elements into the built environment—on residents' well-being. Amidst a setting challenged by dense urbanization and limited green spaces, the research sought to understand the relationship between residential design, access to natural views, and overall health. Existing literature underscores the psychological benefits of such design, but its influence on physical health remains underexplored. Employing surveys and observational methods, the study aimed to map the presence of biophilic elements in homes and gauge their perceived effectiveness. Findings indicate a discrepancy between the availability of natural ventilation and residents' satisfaction with it, highlighting a gap between design intention and functionality. The research underscores the necessity of incorporating natural features into homes, not merely for aesthetic appeal but as a vital component of health and psychological well-being. It advocates for educational initiatives, policy changes, and design innovation to fully harness the advantages of nature-connected living spaces. This study's implications extend to urban planning and public health, providing a blueprint for sustainable living in arid urban landscapes.

    Bernal, Sandra; Valer Portilla, Camila Fernanda; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Bernal, Sandra; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    In the captivating landscapes of Chaclacayo and Chosica, Peru, two districts grapple with a unique blend of natural beauty and environmental challenges. These areas are not only renowned for their lush scenery and agricultural productivity but also bear the burden of recurrent climatic hazards, especially landslides, which loom ominously over these communities. This research embarks on a crucial journey, delving deep into the heart of these challenges and crafting solutions uniquely tailored to the specific vulnerabilities of these regions, including local voices to ensure that the proposed solutions are not only technically sound but also resonate with the aspirations and values of the communities directly affected. A secondary data analysis offered insights into community awareness, knowledge, and concerns about landslide risks, unstable construction practices, the accumulation of debris, and human activities contributing to losses. A systematic literature review paints a vivid landscape of the challenges, impacts, and mitigation strategies associated with landslides in the Lurigancho-Chosica region. It spotlighted the critical pillars of disaster preparedness, risk management, sound urban planning, and robust early warning systems. To explore the judicious employment of green and blue infrastructure, two experts in these fields provided guidance. The results revealed preferences for specific green and blue infrastructure options, as reflected in survey responses, expert interviews, and empirical data, underlining the considerable potential these measures hold in landslide prevention. Choices that find favor encompass water filtration mechanisms, the strategic use of vegetation as natural barriers, and the redirection of landslide flows. The conclusion leads to recommendations safeguarding the environment and the well-being of those who call these regions home.
  • Strengthening Disaster Adaptability Through Social Infrastructure: A Study in Punta Hermosa

    Aponte Masías, Ariana; College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; Apanovich, Nataliya; Bernal, Sandra (The University of Arizona., 2023-12)
    In the past few decades, the growing frequency and severity of natural disasters have been aggravated by the effects of climate change. The district of Punta Hermosa represents a vulnerable community in this context, particularly due to its susceptibility to landslides, emphasizing the necessity of developing strategies aimed at strengthening community resilience. This study explores how social infrastructure, such as public gathering spaces, contributes to the adaptive capacity of residents after natural disasters. Through a sequential design, a 64-participant survey was conducted to assess community disaster experiences and preferences on public socialization spaces. Data was gathered from five local neighborhoods affected by landslides and was distributed via social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The main results indicated strong support networks within the community, where all respondents reported being actively involved in actions and initiatives to aid members of their community after the landslides. The survey results were framed within a broader context through a literature review, examining theories and evidence about the role of social infrastructure in creating support networks and enhancing community resilience. The review also emphasized disaster management steps to contextualize the community's actions. The study revealed that the actions carried out by the community align with the response phase of general emergency management plans (National Governors Association, 1979) and that community networks can facilitate an immediate and more efficient response to landslides by allowing a rapid evaluation of the situation and the effective distribution of resources. These findings determined the impact of social networks and social infrastructure on enhancing resilience, guiding recommendations for designing social infrastructure with a focus on facilitating interactions and fostering social networks in Punta Hermosa.

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