A Spatiotemporal Analysis of Community Power Outage Impact under Extreme Weather

This research is studying how power outages affect homes and people during extreme weather, considering factors like building types, resident demographics, and resident behaviors, to help communities prepare better.

This project's objective is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the spatiotemporal impacts of power outages on residential communities during extreme hot and cold weather events, integrating the dynamic interplay between buildings and households. As climate variation intensifies, the increasing reliance of communities on electricity poses greater challenges during power outages, particularly when extreme weather leads to a significant increase in electricity demand or blackout. Existing research overlooks crucial aspects, including detailed building characteristics and human mobility patterns. This oversight results in a limited understanding of the intricate relationship between social dynamics and the built environment during power outages, potentially leading to an underestimation of the vulnerabilities faced by specific demographic groups living in underdeveloped building environments where mitigation strategies have diminishing effectiveness. 

This interdisciplinary project, a collaboration between the Architectural Engineering and Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education departments, aims to merge diverse, multi-scale data to capture the dynamic interactions between buildings and households and evaluate the impact of power outages in the context of extreme weather. The research will facilitate equitable and efficient mitigation of power outage risks. This project will select Philadelphia as a test case. Philadelphia was chosen for its socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, diverse extreme weather conditions across seasons, and accessible community data (The research team has already built connections with multiple communities in Philadelphia). 

This project not only enhances our understanding of energy system vulnerabilities but also supports the development of resilient strategies, especially for underserved communities. The collaborative nature of this project, bridging expertise in building energy modeling and human mobility analysis, exemplifies the interdisciplinary research and mentorship emphasized by the Institute of Energy and the Environment. Leveraging the seed grant, the project seeks to lay the groundwork for scalable, impactful research, including preliminary studies and community engagement. This project promises not only to advance scientific understanding but also to offer practical solutions for enhancing community resilience in the face of growing climate challenges.


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