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Using Rochester’s public housing in the “Crescent of Poverty” as a catalyst for a solar initiative

Authors: Christopher Miller*, State University of New York: College at Geneseo, Department of Geography
Topics: Sustainability Science, Urban Geography
Keywords: Sustainability, Poverty, Solar Initiative, Rochester
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Both the climate crisis and poverty rates in US cities have increased rapidly, with few solutions. This research examines the relative solar potential in areas of public housing developments in Rochester, NY, specifically the area of concentrated poverty called the “Crescent of Poverty.” This research also examines the societal benefits that an inclusive solar/sustainability movement provides for Rochester. Rochester is a mid-sized city with a diverse population of 210,000 residents, with an overall poverty rate >30% and a childhood poverty rate >50% (Murphy, 2018). These alarming rates have contributed to the creation of the “Crescent of Poverty”, where the majority of family public housing developments are located. The solar potential is analyzed with ArcGIS Pro, where DEMs were converted to measure the solar radiation for Rochester. Solar potential is then overlaid with family public housing developments to show those that exhibit the highest potential for creation of solar energy. Qualitative data required to understand societal benefits were obtained through an examination of literature and interviews with community development officials. Results suggest that many of the areas where solar potential is at its peak are also sites of family public housing. Qualitative results reveal that through implementation of inclusive programs that involve “sweat equity”, populations that are normally unable to afford solar panels may be able to actively participate in and benefit from the solar initiative, while increasing Rochester’s sustainability in line with its current Climate Action Plan and the Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan.

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