Paul Coseo is an assistant professor, sustainability scientist, and Licensed Landscape Architect at Arizona State University’s (ASU) The Design School. He is an optimistic designer and researcher with a love of urban landscapes and weather. Growing up in metro Detroit, he witnessed how social forces drive not only the development of great public spaces but also urban decline that leads to extreme environmental inequity. At ASU, he examines the intersection of urban climate and design through 1) ecological, 2) climate justice, and 3) social learning lenses. His background in meteorology, landscape architecture, and urban planning allows him to not only focus on the drivers of extreme temperatures in cities (i.e. driven by the built environment and global climate change), but more importantly on the strategies to create more thermally comfortable and equitable cities. Coseo argues for pushing past the term “mitigation” or strategies to simply reduce temperature extremes to a new concept of “Urban Climate Design” that advocates more holistically designing better and more moderate urban climates for cities. Urban Climate Design moves past simply being less bad and moves toward improving a city’s thermal environment, quality of life, health, and equity of thermal outcomes. Thus, Urban Climate Design involves issues of justice through equitable, inclusive, and accessible social learning design and research processes. His research areas extend from the analysis of social and ecological drivers of extreme temperatures to design processes that address those drivers to monitoring of implemented strategies.
Currently, Coseo manages several transdisciplinary projects that illustrate his design and research approach. Most of his projects bridge disciplines and universities often involving city or non-profit partners. His approach aims to make research more socially relevant through co-production processes. He believes co-production integrates critical experiential knowledge to guide research. Whether resident or city official, non-researchers require relevant empirical knowledge about the drivers of local urban climates to inform interventions including knowledge about the efficacy of those interventions. Paul’s work spans from building scale efforts to examine heating and cooling of various roof materials in the Sonoran Desert to neighborhood scale projects where he listened to Chicago, IL residents about heat coping strategies to city-wide climate action planning processes at how best to manage extreme heat and cold in Tempe, AZ and Buffalo, NY. This city-wide project is a National Science Foundation Smart and Connected Communities (SCC) Planning Grant that aims to build capacity within city managers and staff to tackle current and projected increases in extreme heat and changes to extreme cold events. The SCC grant is a partnership between Tempe, AZ, Buffalo, NY, ASU, Northern Arizona University, the University of Buffalo, and the National Weather Service to understand pathways toward smarter and more connected ways to manage extreme heat and cold. Coseo brings lessons and findings from research into his teaching through his urban ecological planning and design courses in the Landscape Architecture Program at ASU. Coseo is co-lead of the Urban Design Interdisciplinary Research Theme at the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research project at ASU. He is on the leadership team of ASU’s Urban Climate Research Center and an affiliate faculty member of the Biomimicry Center and the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at ASU.