Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project (TCHEP)

University of Minnesosota PI: L. Baker; co-PIs Sarah Hobbie and Kristen Nelson.

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

The goal of the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project (TCHEP) is to understand the dynamics of consumption within households, as it relates to “flows” (fluxes) of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.  Because households collectively account for a large fraction of  total urban flows of these elements, undertanding households is a major step toward understanding urban ecosystems – and urban sustainably.  The main TCHEP site includes more background, publications, and other products for site visitors.  You can also read about the project in the winter 2011 issue of  CFANS Solutions Magazine.

Households in the Como Lake neighborhood of St. Paul
Households in the Como Lake neighborhood of St. Paul

As you might expect, this project has enormous practical application.  Our “household flux calculator” model has been embedded in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Science Buzz website.  The site currently allows homeowners to compute their fluxes and compare their results to those of the “average” TCHEP household, but by next year, you will be able to compare households similar to yours, based on the average of other participants “like you”.  We will also add the cost of energy to the site, so you can estimate cost savings associated with energy conservation.

We have also developed a manual on landscape management practices of households for use by local watershed districts, shared data on wood stoves with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which is trying to reduce pollution from “fine particulates”, and will incorporate the TCHEP tree database into a study of street sweeping.  Because TCHEP is unique, we have developed several tools to allow other researchers to utilize the survey approach, our “household flux calculator”, and, within a few years, our database.

Finally, we recently received a seed grant “Drivers of Energy Conservation.”  from the Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) that will allow us to use the TCHEP database to study the potential for household energy conservation across all components of household energy.

The project is being conducted as a collaboration with Joe McFadden and Jennifer King at the University of California in Santa Barbara.