As a campus leader in community engagement, CAPLA advances the University’s historic land grant mission through design and planning assistance to diverse communities throughout the state of Arizona. Through its new center in Downtown Tucson, CAPLA will serve as a 21st century, urban counterpart to the UA's traditional agricultural experiment station, embracing Tucson and Arizona in the creation of a “Communiversity” --a laboratory for the development and testing of design and planning strategies that envision urban sustainability, engage a diverse public with decision making tools, and set into motion the regulatory environment and public services to enable that vision.

While strongly grounded in the local context of the Sonoran Desert, CAPLA will expand research partnerships in arid regions worldwide to generate sustainability knowledge that is portable to other localities facing similar challenges. Current CAPLA Focus Areas include: 

Water  -          Water harvesting, reuse, efficiency, management, and creation of urban desert oases

Energy  -        Building performance optimization via technologies, materials, and passive design

Habitat -        Regeneration and management of urban landscapes for human, plants, and animal habitation

Heritage -       Conservation of historic built environments and their capacity to inform sustainable contemporary design


Emerging Focus Areas include:

Climate -        Passive cooling, urban heat island mitigation, design and planning for climate change adaptability, climate justice and social equity

Health -          Design of health care facilities, therapeutic gardens, healthy cities, and the study of the impact of all built environments on health

Transit -        Integration through urban design of movement systems for people and goods that enrich communities and reduce driving and dependency on fossil fuels                                                                                                                                                                          

Investment -   Increasing property value via economic, social, and environmental sustainability

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