News & Press: ACSP Annual Conference News

A Closer Look with Award Winner Elizabeth Hewitt

Monday, January 23, 2017  
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ACSP/Cornell University Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning

Leveraging Organizational Dynamics in Buildings to Change Behavior
Elizabeth Hewitt, Stony Brook University

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.

ACSP recently connected with Elizabeth to find out more about this accomplishment.

How did you feel when you won the award?
Very honored! Sometimes when writing a dissertation it is easy to get lost in the weeds. Winning the award was a nice reminder of the bigger picture and my passion for the field.

Who do you want to thank, if any?
First and foremost, my dissertation committee, Richard Wener, Joseph Seneca, Rachael Shwom, and especially my chair, Clinton Andrews. They all offered such helpful insight and expertise, and helped me move from a fuzzy conceptual idea to a completed dissertation. And of course my family and husband for putting up with 5 years of doctoral studies!

What inspired you about this project?
I liked the way this project forced me to think in a completely different way about something we all encounter daily -- buildings!

What’s next?
My dissertation unearthed some really interesting questions for me about buildings, energy use, and the social and organizational influences that play a role in consumption. Many of these questions remain unanswered. Now that I'm on the faculty at Stony Brook University, I'm trying to move some of these unanswered questions into new research projects, and also think about ways to incorporate some of these themes into my teaching.

Elizabeth's Bio
Dr. Elizabeth L. Hewitt is an assistant professor of energy policy in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University. She focuses on the technological, social, and policy-based challenges surrounding energy consumption in the built environment, including the ways in which occupant behavior impacts building performance. Dr. Hewitt is trained as an urban planner and social scientist, and received her PhD from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her doctoral studies were funded by a National Science Foundation IGERT fellowship for interdisciplinary energy research. While at Rutgers, she conducted research at the Rutgers Center for Green Building on numerous projects in commercial and multifamily residential buildings. Before her time at Rutgers, she worked at the Alliance for Downtown New York, the largest business improvement district (BID) in North America, where she led the organization’s green building research and policy initiatives. Dr. Hewitt also holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York, FIT. She is LEED-accredited by the United States Green Building Council.

About ACSP Awards
Each year ACSP is proud to honor faculty and students who have distinguished themselves or made major contributions to the academy or to the profession via outreach efforts, public service or for service to ACSP, the Academy, or the profession. A complete listing and history for all awards can be found at

This 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.

The 2016 Barclay Gibbs Jones Award Committee includes: Committee Chair Rachel Weber, University of Illinois at Chicago; Gwen Urey, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Charles Jennings, John Jay College; and Doug Lee, independent scholar.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.