Franco Montalto


Dr. Montalto is a civil engineer interested in the development of ecologically, economically, and socially sensible solutions to urban environmental problems, with a focus on sustainable water resources engineering and climate change. His ~25 years of experience have included research and design of a variety of nature-based solutions involving ecological restoration of degraded landscapes, the use of constructed wetlands for wastewater and stormwater treatment, as well as work with “green infrastructure” and “low impact development” technologies as a means of managing urban runoff, while promoting urban sustainability and resilience. He is currently a Professor at Drexel University, where he directs the Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab. He is the Founder and President of eDesign Dynamics LLC, an environmental consulting firm based in New York City, with an international portfolio of projects.  He also serves as the Director of the North American Hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and in June of 2020 was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as a Member of the 4th New York City Panel on Climate Change. Previously, he served as a Research Fellow at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and a Fulbright Scholar in Venice, Italy. His degrees are from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and Cornell University. Dr. Montalto is a licensed engineer in New York (#090284), Pennsylvania (#PE080773), New Jersey (#24GE05353000), Connecticut (#PEN.0030533), Florida (#90024), and Puerto Rico (#28178).

Degrees / Education

  • PhD, Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2003
  • MS, Environmental Engineering and Soil Physics; Minor: City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, 1998
  • BS, Civil Engineering, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 1995

Research Interests

Green infrastructure, ecological restoration, nature based solutions, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, ecohydrology, climate change, sustainability, and resilience

Areas of Study

Academic Distinctions

  • Appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change, 2020
  • Finalist, Innovation, Excellence in GSI Awards, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, 2019
  • Harleman Distinguished Lecturer, Penn State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2018
  • Environmental and Water Resource Engineer of the Year, American Society of Civil Engineers, Philadelphia Section, 2018
  • Visiting Scholar, The NYC Urban Field Station (Trotten, NY), 2014-2015
  • Visiting Professor, The IUAV University (Venice, Italy), 2015
  • Recipient of National Science Foundation CAREER award (CBET 1150994), 2012-2017
  • Drexel University College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, 2012
  • Dr. Mark L. Greenberg Distinguished University Faculty Award for Community Based Experimental Learning at Drexel University, 2009
  • Earth Institute at Columbia University Postdoctorate Research Fellowship, 2005-2007
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2000-2003
  • NY Sea Grant & Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve Cooperative Research Fellowship, 1998-99
  • Fulbright Research Fellowship (Venice, Italy), 1995-96
  • Cooper Union Research Foundation Fellowship, 1995
  • International Technical Exchange Fellowship (Arhus, Denmark), 1994

Select Publications

  • Alizadehtazi, B; Tangtrakul, K; Woerdeman, S; Gussenhoven, A; Mostafavi, N; Montalto, F. (20210. Urban Park Usage During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Journal of Extreme Events.
  • Smalls-Mantey, L; Montalto, F. (2021) The Seasonal Microclimatic Trends of a Large Scale Extensive Green Roof.  Building and Environment.
  • Wong, SM and FA Montalto (2020) The Long-Term Economic and Social Impact of Green Infrastructure in New York City. Water Resources Research. Volume 56, Issue 11:
  • Alizadehtazi, B; Gurian, PL; and FA Montalto. (2020) Observed variability in soil moisture in engineered urban green infrastructure systems and linkages to ecosystem services. Journal of Hydrology. 590.
  • Wong, SM; Gurian, PL; Daley, J; Bostrom, H; Matsil, M; and FA Montalto. (2020) A preliminary assessment of coastal GI’s role during Hurricane Sandy: a case study of three communities, Urban Water Journal,
  • Shevade, LJ; Lo, LJ; and FA Montalto. (2020) Numerical 3D Model Development and Validation of Curb-Cut Inlet for Efficiency Prediction. Water. 12, 1791.
  • Campellone, S; Levia, D; and FA Montalto. (2020) Sub-millimeter surface morphology of Gleditsia triacanthos L. (Honeylocust) Reveals Insight into Foliar and Bark Interception Storage Capacities. Ecohydrology.
  • Alizadehtazi, B; Gurian, PL; and FA Montalto. (2019) Impact of Successive Rainfall Events on the Dynamic Relationship between Vegetation Canopies, infiltration, Runoff and Recharge in Engineered Urban Green Infrastructure Systems. Ecohydrology. Vol. 13, No. 2.
  • Rakestraw, E; Jacobson, S; Gurian, PL; and FA Montalto (2017) Quantification of stemflow in three isolated shrub species in an urban environment. Frontiers Built Environment.
  • Yu, Z; Miller, S; Montalto, FA and U Lall (2019) Development of a Nonparametric Stationary Synthetic Rainfall Generator for Use in Hourly Water Resource Simulations. Water. 11(8)
  • Miller, SM and FA Montalto (2019) Stakeholder perceptions of green infrastructure and ecosystem services in New York City. Ecosystem Services (37) 100928.
  • Abualfaraj, N; Cataldo, J; Elborolosy, Y; Fagan, D; Woerdeman, S; Carson, T and FA Montalto (2018) Monitoring and modeling the long-term rainfall-runoff response of the Jacob K. Javits Center green roof. Water. 10(11), 1494;
  • Feldman, A; Foti, R; and FA Montalto. (2019) Green Infrastructure Implementation in Urban Parks for Stormwater Management. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment. Volume 5, Issue 3.
  • Jeffers, S and FA Montalto (2018) Modeling urban sewers with artificial fractal geometries. Journal of Water Management and Modeling. (DOI: 10.14796/JWMM.C455)
  • Yu, Z. Montalto, FA and CT Behr. (2018) Probabilistic Green Infrastructure Cost Calculations Using a Phased Life Cycle Algorithm Integrated with uncertainties. Journal of HydroInformatics. 20(5), 1201-1214.
  • Yu, Z; Miller, S; Montalto, FA; and U Lall. (2018) The bridge between precipitation and temperature – pressure change events: modeling future non-stationary precipitation. Journal of Hydrology. 562, 346-357.
  • Yu, Z; Bedig, A; Quigley, M; and FA Montalto. (2018) Automated detection of unusual soil moisture probe response patterns with association rule learning. Environmental Modeling and Software. 105, 257-269.
  • DiGiovanni, K; Montalto, FA; and S. Gaffin. (2018) A comparative analysis of micrometeorological determinants of evapotranspiration rates within a heterogeneous urban environment. Journal of Hydrology. 562. 223-243.
  • Zidar, K; Bartrand, TA; Loomis, CH; McAfee, CA; Geldi, JM; Riggall, G; and FA Montalto. (2017) Maximizing Green Infrastructure in a Philadelphia Neighborhood. Urban Planning. Vol. 2, Issue 4. pp 115-132. DOI:
  • Zidar, K; Belliveau-Nance, M; Cucchi, A; Denk, D; Kricun, A; O’Rourke, S; Rahman, S; Rangarajan, S; Rothstein, ER; Shih, J, O’Rourke, S; and FA Montalto. (2017) A Framework for Multifunctional Green Infrastructure Investment in Camden, NJ. Urban Planning. Vol. 2, Issue 3. pp 56-73. DOI:
  • Alvizuri, J; Cataldo, J; Smalls-Mantey, L; and FA Montalto (2017). Green Roof Thermal Buffering: Insights Derived from Fixed and Portable Monitoring Equipment. Energy and Buildings. 151. 455-469
  • Rostad, N, Foti, R and FA Montalto. (2016) Harvesting urban runoff to flush metropolitan toilets: a quantitative comparison of potential benefits in four major US cities. Resources, Conservation, and Recycling. 108. pp 97-106.
  • Goldstein, A, Foti, R and FA Montalto (2016) Effect of spatial resolution in modeling stormwater runoff for an urban block. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001377, 06016009.
  • Catalano de Sousa, R; Palmer, M; Gurian, P; and FA Montalto. (2016) Potential climate change impacts on green infrastructure vegetation. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. v20. 128-139.
  • Catalano de Sousa, R; Gurian, P; Foti, R; and FA Montalto (2016) Evaluating Green Infrastructure Performance Under Extreme Events. Journal of Extreme Events.
  • Alizadehtazi, B; DiGiovanni, K; Foti, R; Morin, T; Shetty, N; Montalto, FA; and Gurian, PL (2016) Comparison of the Infiltration Rates of Different Permeable Urban Surfaces Using a Cornell Sprinkle Infiltrometer. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering. 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001374 , 06016003
  • Alfredo, KA; Montalto, FA; Bartrand, B; Wolde-Georgis, T and U Lall (2016) Using a Participatory Stakeholder Process to Plan Water Development in Koraro, Ethiopia. Water. 8, 275; doi:10.3390/w8070275
  • Travaline, K; Montalto, FA; and C. Hunold (2015) Deliberative Policy Analysis and Policy-Making in Urban Stormwater Management. Journal of Environmental Planning and Policy. 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2015.1026593
  • Mason, E and FA Montalto (2014) The Overlooked Role of New York City Urban Yards in Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change. Local Environment. (1-16)
  • Sheller, M; O’Connor, S; Galada, HC; Montalto, FA; Gurian, PL; and M Piasecki (2014) Participatory Engineering for Recovery in Post-earthquake Haiti. Engineering Studies, Vol. 6, No. 3, 159–190.
  • Galada, HC; Gurian, PL; Montalto, FA; Sheller, M; Piasecki, M; Ayalew, T: and S O’Connor. (2014) Attitudes Toward Post-earthquake Water and Sanitation Management and Payment Options for Leogane, Haiti. Water International. 38(6) 744-757.

In the Media

  • As climate change amplifies urban flooding, here’s how communities can become ‘sponge cities’
    The Conversation (5/7/2024 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Philadelphia neighborhood faces floods, tough choices as climate crisis hits "Planet Streets"
    CBS Philadelphia (12/4/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • How tackling real-world problems transformed my teaching and research
    Nature (9/26/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • NBC10 @Issue: Urban heat islands
    NBC 10 (8/6/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Shade Stations are the coolest places to be this summer
    Fox29 Good Day Philadelphia (7/27/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • These Philly neighborhoods get the worst of the summer heat
    Philadelphia Inquirer (7/26/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • New York Has $1.1 Billion to Fight Flooding. Will It Be Enough?
    The New York Times (7/15/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Promoting Environmental Justice and Energy Equity in Hunting Park
    Impacto Media (7/7/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Study details frightening heat and water changes expected in major U.S. city: ‘The challenges we are facing are really immense’
    Yahoo! News (6/29/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • How climate change is impacting the Philadelphia region
    CBS-3 Philadelphia (6/19/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Philly to experience frequent heat waves, flooding, says Drexel report
    WHYY (5/26/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Philly will have more heat waves, and the Delaware projected to rise more than a foot over the next 25 years
    The Philadelphia Inquirer (5/25/2023 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Javits Center’s Alan Steel pushed the convention center from New Jersey East to Manhattan West
    Crain's New York Business (12/13/2022 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Not your grandparents’ weather: These charts show why Philly summers are hotter than in the 1970s
    Philadelphia Inquirer (7/21/2022 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Thousands of people could live at the flood-prone Navy Yard. Will they be safe?
    WHYY (7/19/2022 12:00:00 AM) View
  • ‘Every time it rains’: Floods from climate change plague a Camden neighborhood
    Philadelphia Inquirer (6/25/2022 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Building Urban Climate Resilience through Integrated Research, Teaching, and Engagement
    NPR's "Academic Minute" (3/18/2022 12:00:00 AM) View
  • A Farm Grows Atop a Convention Center in NYC
    Civil Eats (12/8/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Solving Problems by Collaborating with Communities
    Planet Philadelphia (WGGT) (12/3/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Eastwick residents want Biden’s infrastructure plan to fund Philly’s first climate migration
    WHYY (11/23/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • After the 2020 protests, let’s reimagine urban green space as a way to promote social justice
    Philadelphia Inquirer (11/3/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • A Schuylkill flood that outdid Ida’s occurred in 1869. It got ugly in Philly and Montco.
    The Philadelphia Inquirer (10/4/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • How Can New York City Prepare for the Next Ida? Here’s a To-Do List.
    The New York Times (9/20/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Flooding after Ida brings new focus on Philadelphia's aging infrastructure
    WPVI-TV 6ABC (9/13/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Climate change is straining Philly’s 19th-century sewage system. Ida was a ‘wake-up call.’
    Philadelphia Inquirer (9/10/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Ida’s N.J. death toll rises to 27, among deadliest in state history (9/4/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Camden’s flooding problem is daunting today. As sea levels rise and precipitation increases, it’s only going to get worse
    Grid Philly (6/18/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Outdoor recreation remains popular and can help provide a big health boost
    Philly Voice (5/13/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Drexel University joins national coalition to combat climate change
    Philly Voice (4/15/2021 12:00:00 AM) View
  • Racism left Hunting Park overheated. Neighbors are making a cooler future
    WHYY (8/13/2020 12:00:00 AM) View
    Drexel News Blog (7/27/2020 12:00:00 AM) View

Related News