Hewitt PhD '15 awarded ACSP/Cornell University Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for Best Dissertation in Planning

November 1, 2016

Elizabeth Hewitt, PhD ’15, LEED AP BD+C, an Assistant Professor of Energy Policy at Stony Brook University, is the recipient of the 2016 ACSP/Cornell University Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning.

The award recognizes superior scholarship in a doctoral dissertation completed by a student enrolled in an ACSP-member school. The committee seeks a thesis that is original, well written, employs methods elegantly, offers lessons pertinent to central issues in the field of planning, and provides guidance about how planners or governments should make choices. This award is generously funded on an annual basis by Cornell University.

Her thesis, “Leveraging organizational dynamics in buildings to change behavior,” hypothesizes that while buildings may be stationary, they are not static; they are dynamic and active collectives of agents and actors, and play an important cultural and social role in shaping norms and influencing outcomes in the built environment. Elizabeth’s research develops and applies a unique framework that conceptualizes the urban multifamily residential building as an organization, and seeks to use this lens to better understand the role of organizational characteristics in influencing energy efficiency in buildings. Her work finds that an organizational analogy is a fruitful approach for understanding buildings, and that buildings in many ways can and do function successfully as organizations. Ultimately, the research develops an analogy of buildings-as-organizations – a conceptual framework – to better understand tangible built space. It posits that all buildings can function as organizations, and extends this framework to the urban multifamily building to advance knowledge of energy efficiency.

The committee was especially impressed by Elizabeth’s novel organizational approach to understanding the energy efficiency of buildings, her adoption of a wide range of methods, and use of an instructive new data source. Her research has the potential to significantly shape the field of environmental planning.

Since its establishment in 1998, Elizabeth is the sixth Bloustein-affiliated recipient of the award. Previous recipients include:

  • 2015 Kelcie Mechelle Ralph, University of California, Los Angeles (Bloustein School faculty)
  • 2008 Ralph Buehler, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • 2006 Philip Ashton, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • 2005 Kurt G. Paulsen, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey
  • 1998 Grant Saff, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (co-recipient, inaugural award)

In addition, in 2010, Bloustein graduate Mi Shih (currently on the Bloustein School faculty) was awarded the Gill-Chin Lim Award for the Best Dissertation on International Planning.

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