Community Solutions Incubation + Innovation (CS2I) Lab


Dr. Abel A. Chávez leads the Community Solutions Incubation+Innovation (CS2I) Lab at Western’s Center for Environment and Sustainability (ENVS). As a result of having worked with several communities world-wide, Dr. Chávez founded the CS2I Lab, which under his guidance and partnership with Master in Environmental Management (MEM) faculty and students, embraces community partnerships to help identify the roots of economic, social and environmental problems, and develop tools, analytical frameworks and other innovative solutions alongside key community stakeholders. Dr. Chávez is honored to couple years of corporate experience in execution and implementation of large projects, with years of research in academia where he has helped develop many of the tools and methodologies used in community-scale metabolic analysis today (see lab publications for a sample). Dr. Chávez’s home discipline of Industrial Ecology complements his core philosophies.

CS2I’s core philosophy allows students to maximize their energy and ingenuity while delivering meaningful work that is visual across spatial and temporal scales. In the CS2I Lab, students are embedded in, and allowed to incubate solutions to, real-world problems for real partners. Students are able to generate and test hypotheses that are solidly grounded in theory, gain universally applicable skillsets for identifying a wide-array of problems and co-devise & execute solutions to problems. The multi- and trans-disciplinary skills gained in the CS2I Lab cut across career paths. 

The CS2I Lab has hosted a number of students who have cultivated solutions and promoted community & organizational development with their leadership. We would be honored to host you in our lab!


Several students have made important contributions to community stakeholders. Below is a sample of the work our students have contributed. CS2I offers a special thanks to the local governments and organizations that provided funding and resources for these projects:

  • Chelsah Sigurdson (MEM class of 2016): Conceptualized and launched Sol Invictus, an energy services and solar photovoltaic start-up.
  • Murtaza Naqvi (MEM class of 2016): Developed a fleet assessment methodology for alternative fueled vehicles for the City of Montrose, Colo. Murtaza is currently an Intern and Researcher at EPA’s ORISE.
  • Alyssa Vogan (MEM class of 2016): Led the City of Montrose through a request for proposal (RFP) process for a 500 kW solar PV system to offset electricity use at the wastewater treatment plant. Alyssa is now a Community Sustainability Planner for the City of Lakewood, Colo.
  • Sam Kozel (MEM class of 2016): Led Western Colorado University through concept and economic analysis phases of a 500 kW on-campus solar farm, introducing a wide array of stakeholders to the conversation. Sam is Director of Research at E9 Energy Insight.
  • Brandon McNamara (MEM class of 2017): Partnered in developing a greenhouse gas emissions forecast, and the coupled emissions mitigation transition tool (EMiTT) for the City of Aspen.
  • Rich Stromberg (MEM class of 2018): As an intern to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), assisted in the creation of sophisticated energy monitoring and tracking processes, including new instrumentation installation.​
  • Francis Mitalo (MEM class of 2018): Assisting in the ongoing development of a Carbon Neutrality Assessment calculator to be tested for the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) facilities.
  • Loren Ahonen (MEM class of 2018): Assisting the City of Montrose achieve a 2 MW solar PV system to offset government energy use.​
  • Irais Vázquez (PhD student): Conducting research on coupled materials-energy-carbon footprint for Puebla (Mexico) and its seven economic sub-regions, while also examining future energy and energy infrastructure demand as a result of Mexico’s Energy Reform and Climate Change impacts.



The CS2I Lab is currently in the early stages on a number of community-based projects that would require great student partners. Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more. 

Community partners – if you have efforts needing expert guidance, please contact the CS2I Lab!


The CS2I Lab has been at the forefront of many of today’s standards, best practices, and understanding of community scale metabolic flows. We would welcome your enthusiasm and passion in these areas and look forward to talking with you. Here are some of the products of our work. 

  • Chavez et al. (2017). Urban Metabolism – Resource flows, the urban boundary, and resilience. In Future Earth (Ed.), The Urban Planet: Knowledge towards livable cities. In Press.
  • Low Carbon Cities eBook. Chavez, A. & Sperling, J. (2017). Key Drivers and Trends of Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In Low Carbon Cities, Future Science.
  • UCCRN. (2016). Energy Transformation in Cities. Chapter 8 in Climate Change and Cities: Second Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (ARC3-2).
  • IPCC. Mitigation of Climate Change. Contributing Author to Chapter 12 on Human Settlements. 
  • ICLEI. U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of GHG Emissions.

Please contact Dr. Chávez with any of your questions!

Direct line: 970.943.2017

 Apply now!