What we learned about sustainability at this year’s Greenbuild conference.
One of the eye opening themes that emerged from this week’s Greenbuild conference is that sustainability doesn’t necessarily result from just running down a checklist of best practices. Rather, true sustainbility results when all building or community stakeholders engage in creating and maintaining a sustainable space. Inclusion and a diversity of perspectives and ideas are critical. And because of this, cities are being viewed as the appropriate scale to drive sustainability forward.
EcoDistricts, the focus of one of the educational sessions at this year’s Greenbuild, are a rather new and emerging concept. They are essentially retrofits of existing neighborhoods. They often target mixed-use developments in need of revitalization and involve all members of the community in the planning and execution of the EcoDistrict plans (developers, residents, business owners, city officials, activists, etc.)
This inclusive process ensures that all voices are heard so that the finished product is something that all can enjoy and be happy with. This process also educates community members on the importance of sustainability and what individuals can do to reduce energy consumption, waste, and GHG emissions. This process can also create local jobs that community members can take pride in.
Washington D.C. has an EcoDistrict in the works. More to come on that in a future post.
Van Jones, the President and co-Founder of Rebuild the Dream, spoke about this as well. He points out that America’s urban and lower-income neighborhoods are in need of revitalization, and that through green building, those areas can be cleaned up, and people can be taken out of a life of crime and into a life of work and self-reliance. There is a huge opportunity and Van Jones is realizing it through his Rebuild the Dream project.