EPA Conference : Dustin Wallen

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Conference on Sustainable Redevelopment in the Ohio Valley was both educational and enjoyable. The conference, which was held here in Louisville, presented an array of information on a variety of topics. These included ideas about planning for sustainable redevelopment, the benefits of this type of development on public health and the environment, and tools that can be used by communities to aid with these kinds of projects. Additionally, many case studies of successful sustainable redevelopment projects were presented, showing how these ideas can be used in real-life settings.

There were several sessions of the conference that I found particularly interesting. First is Professor Tony Arnold’s discussion of the barriers that must be overcome to make sustainable development successful. Professor Arnold spoke of how the issues of politics, psychology, and justice can impact communities’ endeavors in sustainable development. He also highlighted strategies that could overcome these barriers.

Another interesting session involved case studies of successful sustainable redevelopment projects in urban areas. One of the projects discussed was a building being renovated here in Louisville by the owners of Gallery NuLu. The building, on East Market Street, is one of the first in Louisville to be certified “green” by the U.S. Green Building Council. It was interesting to see many sustainable building ideas actually being implemented, including the use of recycled construction materials, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and plumbing that conserves water.

Finally, the charrette that was completed on the final day of the conference was a fun experience. Attendees were broken into groups of around ten to discuss sustainable redevelopment ideas for real-world development projects. The groups included people from a wide variety of career fields, which enhanced the experience. It was interesting to be involved in a discussion with people that had such diverse backgrounds, from civil engineering to biology.

Attending the Sustainable Redevelopment Conference was a wonderful experience. I was impressed with both the content of the sessions, as well as the diverse crowd that was in attendance. The information I learned about sustainable development will be invaluable to me in the future, as I strive for a career in urban planning and development.

As an aside, included in the conference packet is a copy of a few of the presentations, journal articles, and fact sheets that were discussed. If anyone is interested in seeing a copy of one or several of these, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to forward them to you.