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FUSE Executive Fellow - LA Climate Adaptation

Fuse Corps

Fuse Corps

Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2023

Los Angeles is feeling the effects of ​extreme heat due to climate change​. It is​ the City's #1 Climate Hazard​. Its risks​ are magnified by the ‘urban heat island’ effect​resulting from surfaces of buildings and asphalt or concrete roads that absorb, rather than reflect, the sun's heat, causing surface and ambient temperatures to rise. High heat days cause increased mortality, emergency room visits, and health complications, as well as economic impacts due to loss of productivity, disproportionately affecting people of color and lower-income communities. The FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct a cost-benefit study to analyze ​​climate adaptation strategies within StreetsLA's Extreme Heat Toolkit -- trees, cool paving, and shade structures -- for cooling neighborhoods ​to maximize the impact of investments in cooling infrastructure.

Fellowship Dates: April 22, 2024 – April 21, 2025

Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

Climate change intensifies temperatures in urban centers globally, and cities like Los Angeles are notably susceptible. The phenomenon of "urban heat islands" exacerbates heat retention and risks due to buildings, and concrete or asphalt roads, leading to significantly higher temperatures in these areas than in rural counterparts. The frequency, duration, and impacts of heat waves are increasing, presenting a pressing challenge.

This issue is particularly acute in neighborhoods historically affected by redlining and discriminatory policies in Los Angeles, where natural cooling elements like trees and parks are lacking. These areas, often lower-income communities, have not received sufficient investment, leading to disproportionate impacts.

In response, the City of Los Angeles, in collaboration with FUSE, is employing strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change. A key component of this strategy is the Extreme Heat Toolkit, led by StreetsLA. The project involves a thorough cost-benefit analysis of cooling approaches, specifically trees, cool paving, and shade structures. This analysis extends beyond financial considerations, including maintenance, environmental impact, public health, and wildlife habitat creation.

The initiative aims to improve the City of Los Angeles's climate policy and overall climate solutions investment strategy by providing actionable cooling infrastructure solutions and data-backed recommendations for mitigating urban heat. The project's focus on environmental justice and equitable climate solutions that are measurable is pivotal, addressing historical imbalances in infrastructure investment in underserved communities. Given the ongoing efforts towards the forthcoming Heat Action Resilience Plan (HARP), further collaboration with the City’s Chief Heat Officer via StreetsLA will be key to enhancing alignment with existing City policies and plans, providing a more cohesive and effective approach to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Inspired by the Nature Conservancy’s study on cool roofs, the Extreme Heat Toolkit utilizes strategies for street-level urban heat mitigation and adaptation. It seeks to provide a guide for decision-making on the most effective allocation of resources and selection of cooling solutions tailored to specific urban areas. The overarching goal is to enable efficient and equitable cooling interventions across diverse urban settings within a year, emphasizing the need to understand the local context and community needs to ensure the effectiveness and resonance of proposed solutions.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The FUSE Executive Fellow, integral to the Extreme Heat Economic Study project, will commence their role with a comprehensive listening tour, engaging with diverse stakeholders. This includes divisions within the Bureau of Street Services, other city government agencies, residents from heat-vulnerable neighborhoods, advocacy organizations, nonprofit tree-planting groups, vendors providing street cooling innovations, and other key stakeholders. This data will inform the development of the project's central deliverable: an in-depth economic study. The study can be used as a practical guide for selecting and implementing the most suitable and economical cooling solutions tailored to the unique characteristics of each urban area and should consider both nature-based solutions such as increasing tree planting and vegetation as well as solutions related to the built environment including shade structures and cool pavement.

A key component of the project is the detailed cost-benefit analysis report. This report will meticulously detail each cooling tool's financial implications, encompassing both initial investment and ongoing maintenance. The report should also include an economic analysis of the cost of inaction specifically in public health, workforce productivity, and infrastructure. The cost of inaction should be projected out to four timelines: 2025, 2028, 2035, and 2050, to better understand current and forecasted conditions.

The project also includes a comparative analysis, providing insights into how different tools perform in various contexts. This analysis will aid in making informed decisions, considering both the immediate and future benefits of each intervention. Another key deliverable is an environmental impact assessment, which will evaluate the ecological and public health implications of each tool and highlight potential benefits or risks.

The culmination of this project will be a set of tailored recommendations aimed at optimizing the use of cooling tools in diverse urban environments, taking into account different funding scenarios, methodology, and urban layouts to ensure the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed solutions.

By April 2025, the FUSE Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Comprehensive Economic Study for Optimal Cooling Tool Selection: This study will be an exhaustive resource, guiding stakeholders through the process of selecting the most effective cooling solutions tailored to the unique needs and characteristics of different urban areas.
  • Detailed Cost-Benefit Analysis Report for Each Cooling Solution: This report will provide an in-depth analysis of the financial aspects of each cooling solution, including initial setup costs and ongoing maintenance, balanced against the benefits they offer, to aid in making informed investment decisions.
  • Comparative Analysis of Different Tools for Varied Urban Contexts: This analysis will offer a side-by-side comparison of various cooling tools, evaluating their effectiveness and suitability in different urban settings, considering variables like geographic location, urban density, and local climate conditions.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment and Public Health Implications Study: This study will delve into the ecological footprint of each cooling solution, examining their impact on the environment and public health, thereby highlighting the broader implications of their implementation in urban spaces.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Ana Tabuena-Ruddy, Assistant Director, Chief Sustainability Officer; Bureau of Street Services
  • Project Supervisor – Claudia Carrillo, Civil Engineering Associate; Bureau of Street Services

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in cost-benefit analyses and an understanding of emissions-related effects and the impact of heat in urban communities is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively verbally and in writing and excels in active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies to support more effective decision-making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with diverse stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, particularly community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.