Schools have many competing interests to keep their buildings operational and healthy for students and staff, including maintaining thermal comfort, good indoor air quality (IAQ), and minimizing energy consumption. In parallel, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased awareness in the broader school community of the importance of healthy indoor environments. Many schools have increased environmental monitoring in their buildings but are challenged with how to communicate data transparently while balancing IAQ, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and energy management goals.  This study is a collaboration with Boston Public Schools, funded by an Early Stage Urban Research Award from Initiative on Cities at Boston University (BU) and an Established Investigator Innovation Award from BU School of Public Health.

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The Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN) is a NOAA funded Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Project (PI: Horton @Columbia, co-PI: Fabian). CCRUN’s serves stakeholder needs in the Northeast by assessing and managing risks from climate variability and change with a focus on urban settings. CCRUN conducts stakeholder-driven research that reduces climate-related vulnerability and advances opportunities for adaptation in the urban Northeast.

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Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course

Our goal is to understand how simultaneous exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors and social determinants of health lead to environmental health disparities at varying stages of life. The center was funded by NIH/NIMHD and EPA (Directors: Levy & Laden). Ending in 2022, CRESSH data and analyses continue to inform disparities analyses related to COVID-19 transmission and other projects in Massachusetts. Activities conducted under the center included:

  • Creating geospatial databases of social and environmental determinants of health to characterize environmental health disparities related to air pollution, housing and health (
  • Informing environment epidemiology models of air pollution exposure and birth and mortality outcomes
  • Building community specific cumulative health risk models using synthetic population micro-data and environmental epidemiology models
  • Mapping vulnerability and transmission patterns of Covid-19 across Massachusetts (

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            Chelsea and East Boston Heat Study

            Extreme heat events can be hazardous for health, particularly in vulnerable populations. Our goal is to build the capacity for Chelsea Creek communities to respond to extreme heat events through community engaged research in Chelsea and East Boston, Massachusetts. We are funded by Barr Foundation (PIs: Fabian & Scammell) to:

            • Engage the community to learn about heat risks and adaptation through Photovoice and questionnaires
            • Measure personal exposure to extreme temperature as well as indoors and outdoors
            • Support decision makers at the city and community level through mapping of vulnerabilities and assets

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            Urban Biogeoscience & Environmental Health Research

            URBAN a graduate training program with the mission of preparing students to tackle urban environmental challenges using interdisciplinary methods and a co-production approach centered on partnerships with governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. URBAN projects involve students from the departments of Environmental Health and Earth & Environment. Projects include:

            • Creating novel greenness metrics using remote sensing and street imagery for climate change mitigation and environmental health research
            • Understanding of the role of greenness in health through an ecosystem services lens
            • Linking carbon dioxide emissions from students in classrooms to green roof carbon sequestration
            • Engaging with partner organizations to translate research knowledge into actionable support through URBAN internships.

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            Multiple factors contribute to asthma exacerbations, including exposure to environmental contaminants, housing conditions, medication underuse, psychosocial stress related to socioeconomic conditions, as well as exposure to neighborhood contextual factors. Interventions targeting reductions in asthma outcomes often affect multiple exposures or stressors with complex feedback loops which can only be understood and quantified using systems science models. In this NIEHS funded project (PI: Fabian) we are:

            • Evaluating the effects of indoor environmental exposures (PM2.5, NO2, mold), the built environment (e.g. housing, greenspace), and neighborhood characteristics on pediatric asthma exacerbations
            • Creating environmental epidemiology models of lung function (FEV1%) and asthma outcomes in children with asthma
            • Building asthma related computable phenotypes from Boston Medical Center electronic health records (EHR)
            • Developing novel statistical methods to create research cohorts from EHR data
            • Constructing housing templates to predict indoor air quality and energy use across an urban cohort of children
            • Investigating the impact of climate and climate action plans on indoor air quality, energy use and asthma outcomes