Environmental justice in Phoenix, Arizona: a neighbourhood deficit and asset score

Jean Léon Boucher, Anthony M. Levenda, Caleb Carpenter, Jorge Morales-Guerrero, Darshan M.A. Karwat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper describes the development and application of two cumulative impact scores–a neighbourhood deficit and an asset score–in Phoenix, Arizona. The deficit score was designed and used as a tool for identifying environmental, energy, and health vulnerabilities while the asset score was used to identify possible relief from these neighbourhood deficits. The design and use of these scores were the result of a collaboration between a community group, Chispa Arizona, and re-Engineered, a research laboratory at Arizona State University. The neighbourhood deficit score (NDS) aggregates a number of phenomena inclusive of: environmental burdens (such as criteria air pollutants and incidence of asthma), socio-economic variables (that may exacerbate the impacts of environmental burdens), and energy poverty. In contrast, the neighbourhood asset score (NAS) assembles a range of community assets (like churches, schools, parks, and grocery stores) which residents might leverage to ameliorate intersectional deficits. We geospatially and statistically examine the NDS, NAS, and demographic data at the census tract level. We find that census tracts with higher proportions of poverty and minority populations are significantly correlated with a higher NDS, and that higher NAS values are more centrally located and offset from the high NDS areas. We believe the NDS and NAS provide a heuristic and useful tool for identifying community vulnerabilities and issues of environmental justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-718
Number of pages27
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • Environmental justice
  • asset-based community development
  • cumulative impact
  • energy poverty
  • social vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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