David Hsu

Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning

Cities connect to their environment through infrastructure, comprised of complex and interconnected physical, technological, and social systems. David's research and teaching focus on how to demonstrate new opportunities for planners and policymakers to shape this relationship within these systems using technology, data, and analysis. His work seeks to assist a wide range of actors -- local policymakers, planners, advocates, and academics -- directly with design, planning, policymaking, and policy implementation.

His publications can be found on his Google Scholar profile and the MIT D-space repository, both linked at right. Previous projects (and funders) include:

  • the effectiveness of benchmarking and disclosure as information policies to reduce the energy consumption of buildings (U.S. Department of Energy); 
  • implementation of green and smart infrastructure for stormwater management (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. National Science Foundation); and 
  • adoption of solar microgrids, lighting, and control technologies in India, Brazil, and Kenya (MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, Fulbright NEXUS program). 

David is working on a book contracted with the University of Chicago Press on governance of utilities and infrastructure. Other current areas of work and research collaboration include:

  • opportunities for climate action at the city level; 
  • local, regional, and federal governance of distributed energy resources and energy transitions; 
  • optimal experimental design for air pollution monitoring networks; and 
  • air quality sensing within energy-efficient and electrified buildings, a key pathway to net-zero carbon emissions. 

At MIT, David teaches classes on urban technology (11.007), research methods (11.800), and infrastructure (11.381). David is also chair of the DUSP urban science major (11-6); course 11 advisor for the Energy Studies Minor, offered by the MIT Energy Initiative; and is a climate coordinator for the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. David is also a faculty member of the MIT Energy Initiative, the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, the Council for the Uncertain Human Future, the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium, the Roosevelt Project of the MIT Center for Economic and Environmental Policy, and the MIT Committee on Undergraduate Performance.

David taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, and worked in structural engineering, real estate finance, and as a policy analyst in the city governments of New York and Seattle. He holds a B.S. from Yale University in physics; a M.S. from Cornell University in applied and engineering physics; a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in city design and social science; and from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Ph.D. in urban design and planning and a certificate in social science and statistics.