I am putting this post into a lot of different categories because Smart Growth can underpin so much in a community. It is not just the intersection of the economy and the environment. It also speaks to social issues, preventing crime, the arts, and so much more.
Today, I attended Smart Growth BC's annual conference. This was a gathering of hundreds. And the topic at hand was how to create happier, healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more profitable communities. It may be a little abstract at first, but Smart Growth makes more and more sense to me every time I hear about it. Of course, its not a perfect philosopy, but it is the best I have seen so far. It is a very holistic approach.
Here are some of the highlights from today:
John Knott Jr leads one of the most ambitious city revitalization projects in the US - the Noisette development in North Charleston, South Carolina. He spoke about building and development as an art form and a service to the human community - not just a way to make money. He talked about good development taking into consideration the history and context of a place - sometimes going back thousands of years. This made me think about how we can incorporate more first nation touchstones in Kamloops development. It made me think of ranches, and river travel. John Knott talked about how green development not necessarily being more expensive, but a simple product of more thorough planning in the beginning. He also talked of an almost moral imperative for developers to help solve social problems in society. He said developers are actually the best placed people to lead the effort. A quote:
"We come together now around what we fear or what we hate - we no longer come together around what we love"
Chris Corps talked about the value propostion in building green. In Kamloops, we have had some conflicting information cost / benefits. But, Chris Corps points to many studies that indicate the benefits - a green building, for example, is a healthier building and consequently inhabitants are healthier, workers are more productive, patients get better faster. Chris was asked whether this may be because any new building, green or not, produces an initial excitement for people inside. He said it may be too early to draw anything conclusive but preliminary data shows green features do have a positive effect on wellbeing. Chris pointed to the Green Value report - very interesting reading.
Whistler is heating their new athletes village using waste water. SFU hosts a new community on Burnaby Mountain - Univercity - a walkable community with a variety of housing options, where the residents are offered a $100 discount on a monthly transit pass. Univercity favours local Burnaby businesses in its retail spaces.
Westeinde, with Windmill Developments, spoke a bit about the potential of green development. He maintains that using current technologies and practices, we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from buildings well below Kyoto Protocol targets within 15 years. He pegged political will as a crucial element - helping to fast track green developments, and providing regulations that can make them successful.
I will be getting all the proceedings from the conference on a CD soon.