MBS Faculty Awarded Interdisciplinary Grant to Develop the Next Generation of Coastal Structures

October 02, 2019

Miami Business School Economics faculty David L. Kelly and Renato Molina, part of an interdisciplinary team including faculty from Architecture, Biology and Engineering, have been awarded a distinguished grant to develop the Next Generation of Coastal Structures. The grant was funded by the University of Miami Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK), which is designed to foster interdisciplinary research.

Existing coastal protection tends to result in poor water quality, ecological function, and aesthetics, and provides only limited protection and resilience from flooding and other environmental impacts. The cost is often exorbitant. For example, the current Miami Beach project, which elevated streets and installed new pumping stations, protects only a limited area and cost $500 million. The project faced many delays from residents concerned that the project would have a negative impact on property values. 

The research team has developed several new designs that improve protection, lower costs and improve biological function. Municipalities such as North Bay Village have expressed interest in working with the team to optimize the designs to their particular coastal features.

Kelly and Molina, both part of the Sustainable Business Research Cluster at Miami Business School, are testing how various types of coastal protection affect property values, using a data set of over a million property transactions and nearly 700 coastal structures. 

"Successful investments which provide resilience to adverse environmental change require support from all stakeholders: environmental and community groups, local governments, and especially property owners," said Kelly. "Demonstrating that new coastal structures will increase property values will help municipalities garner support to invest in new structures that can improve resiliency. Preliminary results indicate that improved coastal protection can increase property values, but only when built in vulnerable areas, as evidenced by slow growth in property values prior to the construction of coastal structures.''

David L. Kelly is a professor of economics, Co-chair of the Sustainable Business Research Cluster, and Academic Director of the Master of Science in Sustainable Business at the University of Miami. Professor Kelly has published in leading journals including Science, Nature, the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and the Journal of Economic Theory.

Renato Molina is an engineer and economist specializing in environmental and resource economics. His work focuses on topics at the intersection between game theory, sustainability, and institutional settings. His current research explores the role of property rights in the economic impact of natural disasters, the use of conservation for strategies to control for competitive incentives in the commons, and how global trade is affected by criminal activities in the ocean.

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