Selected current and past research

Baltimore Ecosystem Study:

As a Co-PI for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a long-term ecological research (LTER) project of the National Science Foundation, I have looked at a wide array of topics, including:

·         The relationship between trees and crime risk

·         The influence of parks, trees, and other vegetation on property values, and how that is mediated by crime risk

·         The spatial distribution of vegetation, parks and other environmental amenities, and how that might relate to socio-economic and housing market factors

·         The relationship between lawn fertilization and socio-economic factors

·         New methods of spatially segmenting neighborhoods and property markets

·         New methods for classifying and quantifying suburban and exurban forest fragmentation from remote sensing imagery

·         Design factors in suburbs that can lead to Nitrate loading


Funding: This research was funded by a USDA Forest Service Cooperative Agreement and the following grants:

·         Development of Advanced Spatial Analyses for Examining the Relationships among Social Groups, Land Managmeent and Vegetation Structure. 2006-2009. Funded by a research joint venture agreement with the USDA Forest Service.

·         A Longitudinal Analysis of the Social Dynamics of Environmental Equity in Baltimore. 2006-2009. Funded by the National Science Foundation (Multi-institution PI Christopher Boone, Arizona State University)

·         Application of the Forest Stewardship Program’s Spatial Analysis Project to Urban Areas Integrated with the Forest Opportunity Spectrum. 2006-2008. Funded by the USDA Forest Service.

·         Feedbacks between Complex Ecological and Social Models: Urban Landscape Structure, Nitrogen Flux, Vegetation Management, and Adoption of Design Scenarios. 2005-2007. Funded by the National Science Foundation (Multi-institution PI Steward Pickett, Institute for Ecosystem Studies)


Cities and Energy Consumption

My book, The Very Hungry City (Yale Press, 2012) looks at how and why cities consume energy differently (climate, water transfers, transportation etc.) and highlights some of the most inventive policies and programs from around the world for reducing urban energy footprint. More info at


Land Use Change Modeling and Policy Scenario Analysis for Metropolitan Planning

This branch of my research involves development of integrated and dynamic land use-transportation models to simulate future urban growth and transportation patterns for the purpose of policy evaluation. Using the We have developed a detailed agent-based model for Chittenden County, VT that integrated the UrbanSim platform with the TransCAD travel demand model and a less detailed model using just UrbanSim for the 9 counties of northern Vermont. These models, which took over 5 years to develop, allow us to predict future residential and commercial development, traffic volumes, and emissions. Further, we have developed a number of add-ons that allow us to quantify other environmental impacts, such as impervious surface coverage and nutrient loadings. We have also coupled our 9-county model with an analysis routine that characterizes future forest fragmentation. These models have been used to simulate a number of hypothetical policy scenarios, including investment in additional new roadway infrastructure, establishment of urban growth centers and growth boundaries, and designation of open space. The results of alternative scenarios can be compared against baseline results to help evaluate the possible intended or unintended impacts of policies. See for more details



·         University of Vermont Transportation Research Center/ US Dept of Transportation. A. Troy, Principal Investigator. Integrated Land-Use, Transportation and Environmental Modeling: Complex Systems Approaches and Advanced Policy Applications.

·         US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. A. Troy, Principal Investigator. Dynamic Transportation and Land Use Modeling.

·         Northeastern States Research Cooperative. A. Troy, Principal Investigator. Analysis of the drivers of urban growth and second home development in the Northern Forest Region of Vermont .


Description: Description: Description: image002.jpgDescription: Description: Description: image004.jpg

Object-oriented land use/land cover classification research

A number of my projects have developed new methodological approaches for classifying land cover from high resolution imagery using an approach called Object-based image analysis. In this approach, imagery is segmented into polygons, polygons are populated with information about reflectance, shape, who the neighbors are, and overlay characteristics with other thematic layers (including LiDAR), complex rule sets are developed and validated, and then polygons are classified. My lab (the Spatial Analysis Lab) and I have worked to improve on many of these methods and, in particular, deploy them for very large areas using enterprise systems. In particular we have focused on classifying urban tree canopy cover and characterizing forest fragmentation in urban-rural transition areas. 


Northeastern States Research Cooperative. A. Troy, Principal Investigator. Functional Classification of Land Use across the Urban-Rural Gradient to Support Watershed Planning in the Northern Forest.

USDA McIntire-Stennis Program A. Troy, Principal Investigator. Development of an Object-oriented Framework for Classifying and Inventorying Human-dominated Forest Ecosystems.


Description: Description: Description: humboldt-watershed2

Ecosystem Service Research:

I have participated in more than ten ecosystem service valuation projects at UVM and through my consulting. In the process, I wrote a publication that, for the first time, described the basic methodology of using GIS in value transfer analysis.   Click here for that publication ( Mapping Ecosystem Services Values: Practical Challenges and Opportunities in Bridging GIS and Value Transfer in Ecological Economics 60: 435-449.). Click here for a recent report I lead-authored for the Ontario, Canada Ministry of Natural Resources on the value of Southern Ontario’s ecosystem services. Click here for a report I co-authored on the value of New Jersey’s ecosystem services.

Natural Hazards Policy Research:

I am interested in wildfire and flood policy and, particularly, in how hazard disclosure, insurance availability, and visualization information about hazards impact property markets. I am lead editor of a book that came out in 2007 from Elsevier Publishers, entitled “Living on the Edge: Economic, Institutional Management Perpsectives on Wildfire Hazard in the Urban Interface.” Click here for a chapter and contributor list.

See also my article entitled The Role of Disclosure in the flood zone: Assessing the price effects of the California Natural Hazard Disclosure Law (AB 1195). Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 47(1): 137-162 (email me for reprints) and a policy report I wrote published by California Policy Research Center on hazard disclosure entitled An Assessment of the 1998 California Natural Hazard Disclosure Law.