2017 Program


EcoDistricts Summit Program

The EcoDistricts Summit program includes a mix of inspiring and informative programmatic elements, interactive networking opportunities and unique shoulder programs. We’re working hard to plan Summit 2018 – in the meantime, we invite you to explore Summit 2017’s program below!


Day 1 • Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

Georgia State University, Student Center East Building • Speakers Auditorium
55 Gilmer St SE • Atlanta, GA 30303

7:30am – 8:30am


8:30am – 9:10am


9:10am – 9:30am


EcoDistricts’ CEO Rob Bennett will kick off the 2017 EcoDistricts Summit with a warm welcome to conference attendees from across the globe. He’ll get you grounded in the mission and vision of the EcoDistricts movement, and the important role the annual Summit plays in building the market for neighborhoods for all in Atlanta, North America, and beyond.

9:30am – 9:50am


The Beloved Community – How Atlanta Can Create Equitable, Sustainable Neighborhoods

Join Nathaniel Smith for an inspirational and thought-provoking Opening Keynote as he shares the history of Atlanta and its surrounding region, and discusses the importance of focusing on climate, growth, and economy to create equitable and inclusive communities.

9:50am – 10:00am


The 2017 EcoDistricts Summit is designed to be a participatory event. Through facilitated group sessions and interactive Studio and Breakthrough sessions, we’ll connect attendees to each other, engage attendees to create real solutions for Atlanta neighborhoods, and develop outcomes at the end of Day 2 to take back to our communities across North America and the globe.

10:00am – 11:00am


April De Simone, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of designing the WE, will provoke attendees to think about the interactive Undesigning the Redline exhibit they will be interacting with throughout the Summit. April will discuss the designing the WE organization, and the role their installations play in helping people explore the history of redlining in cities like Atlanta.

Duriya Farooqui is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, a coalition of 40 corporate CEOs, Atlanta leaders and the Mayor, working on the most critical investments for Atlanta’s future. Her presentation will speak to public private partnerships, the intersection of which needs to be a conversation on equity. 

Tim Keane is the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development for the City of Atlanta. With his considerable background in planning, preservation, and sustainability, Tim will discuss high quality, sustainable, and equitable growth and development in Atlanta through facilitating more options for travel, abundant housing for all people, thriving neighborhoods, exceptional design in architecture and public spaces, preservation of historic resources, innovative regulatory practices, safe and durable buildings, and more.


11:00am – 12:30pm


12:30pm – 4:30pm


Our half-day Studio Sessions dive deep into diverse communities across the City of Atlanta. Led by experiences facilitators and speakers, join a group of local community leaders and national experts to tour an Atlanta community, learn about unique challenges and opportunities facing the neighborhood, and design real solutions to advance neighborhood equity, sustainability, and resilience.

Loosening the Belt: Bringing Affordability Back to the Atlanta Beltline – The Atlanta Beltline  – The Atlanta Beltline is a sustainable redevelopment project that is transforming the city and its bordering neighborhoods in ways that are sparking questions and calling for intentional review. When completed, the Beltline will connect 45 neighborhoods through 22 miles of mixed use trails. It will provide first and last mile connectivity for regional transportation initiatives and put Atlanta on a forward-thinking path to economic growth and sustainability. However, community advocates and equity leaders have voiced concern over unmitigated displacement and a growing lack of low-income, affordable, and workforce housing along the Beltline. In this studio, we will hear from the people and organizations working to build affordability and inclusion back into the Beltline. We’ll tour a portion of the project and discuss challenges and solutions to how the Beltline can change course to minimize displacement and help adjacent neighborhoods maintain affordability beyond the completion of the project.

Presenters: Elke Davidson, Davidson Consulting; Nathaniel Smith, Partnership for Southern Equity; Ryan Gravel, Sixpitch; David Jackson, Atlanta Beltline Partnership, Mtamanika Youngblood, Historic District Development Corporation

Using Green Infrastructure and Parks to Improve Equity on Atlanta’s Westside  – Spelman College – A partnership between the City of Atlanta, non-profits, foundations, and the community has resulted in a park and green infrastructure plan for an area highly impacted by stormwater overflow in the Proctor Creek Watershed. The new parks use green infrastructure to address historically discriminatory waste water treatment practices. The parks provide a place for recreational benefits as well as capacity relief for stormwater discharge, leading to more just outcomes for the community. This studio will tour several Westside parks and neighborhoods and gather attendees and community leaders to explore the tangible steps – such as park usage, safety and benefits of new park systems, workforce development, funding and investment, and community engagement and inclusion – that will ensure equitable outcomes in the sustainable revitalization of Atlanta’s Westside.

Presenters: Jay Wozniak, Trust for Public Land; Julie Owens, City of Atlanta; Chris Faulkner, Altanta Regional Commission; Kevin Burke, Atlanta Beltline, Inc.; Mother Mamie Moore, English Avenue Neighborhood Association; Tony Torrence; Atlanta Community Improvement Association; Darryl Haddock, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Andrew White, Park Pride; Rita Gibson, University Community Development Corporation; Dr. Yomi Noibi; Eco-Action Network

Deep Roots: Strengthening Climate & Cultural Resiliency through Creative Placemaking  – Spelman College  – As part of its Climate and Cultural Resilience Grant Program, Enterprise Community Partners awarded 5 grants to teams around the country using creative placemaking strategies to strengthen the connection between cultural and climate resilience. Grantees work with residents, artists and other practitioners to address climate challenges, and other concerns such as racial equity, economic and health disparities, and community engagement and cohesion. In this Studio session, attendees will tour the designing the WE exhibit, Undesign the Redline. Then, attendees will participate in table sessions, addressing challenges in culture and climate resilience with grantees from Atlanta, GA, Wayne, WV, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, and Duluth, MN.

Presenters: Chris Appleton WonderRoot; Brandon Jones, WonderRoot; Alex Trachtenberg Southface; Linda Ly, Chinatown Community Development Center; Marilyn Wrenn, Coalfield Development Corporation; Moira Villiard, American Indian Community Housing Organization; Jacky Grimshaw, Center for Neighborhood Technology; April De Simone, Designing the We; Megan Venable-Thomas, Enterprise Community Partners

Wrap Around Neighborhood: Developing Strong Mixed-Income Communities in Atlanta’s East Lake  – East Lake YMCA – Once considered one of Atlanta’s glamorous neighborhoods, East Lake has experienced disinvestment, unemployment, and crime since the 1960’s. Led by the East Lake Foundation was established to revitalize the East Lake neighborhood, generate new opportunities for the families living there, and create a vibrant community where all residents thrive. A national model for community redevelopment, East Lake and Purpose Built Communities, East Lake has gone through a stunning transformation into a vibrant community. Today, East Lake is a thriving neighborhood that includes a mixed-income housing community and educational and community programming that provide a cradle-to-college pipeline for residents. But, in recent years, the success of the neighborhood has attracted higher income families, threatening to drive down affordability and displace current residents. In this Studio session, attendees will tour the East Lake community, hear from leaders from the local YMCA and Purpose Built Communities, and explore how to safeguard low-income residents in the face of uncontrolled private market responses to neighborhood redevelopment.

Presenters: Damon Bailey, Purpose Built Communities; Rhonda Fischer, East Lake Foundation; Alex Wiggins, Purpose Built Communities, Parrish Underwood, East Lake YMCA

Broad Strokes: Stabilizing Arts & Culture Through Permanent Placemaking for the Arts  – Center for Civic Innovation  – Located in the South Broad Street Art District, the Goat Farm Arts Center is a home to artists, musicians and non-profits. Currently, the space is planned for redevelopment into a mixed-use live-work-play environment for Atlanta’s creatives. This Studio session will tour the South Broad Street Arts District and Goat Farm. Participants will also learn how local initiative the Beacon’s Project is helping artists own and preserve vital community spaces. Finally, attendees will work with local artists, community representatives, and developers to reimagine South Broad Street as an inclusive, historic, and creative space for existing and new resident artists.

Presenters: Kyle Kessler, Center for Civic Innovation; Doug Shipman, Woodruff Arts Center; Jessyca Holland, C4 Atlanta; Grace Kim, Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery; Brandon Sheats, Murmur Media; Brian Egan, Mammal Gallery

Where Data & Equity Meet: The Role of Health Data and Sustainability as a Catalyst Point for Addressing Disparities – Southface Energy Institute  – Too often, public health policies and initiatives take a “top down” approach, with knowledge of best practices and community “needs” flowing from developers, designers, public officials, and health experts into a neighborhood. This Studio session will explore ways to bridge the gap between local community knowledge and official knowledge on public health in ways that are transformational for everyone. We’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of social health determinants and the connection between investment and neighborhood health; how to use health data to guide design, policy, and investments; how health outcomes can be designed into concrete projects; and hear examples cross-sector and governmental initiatives that are building healthier communities from the bottom, up.

Presenters: Abigail Baum, Pew Charitable Trust; Antwi Akom, Streetwyze; Aekta Shah, Streetwyze; Tessa Cruz, Streetwyze; James E Dills, Georgia State University; Cynthia Peurifoy, Environmental Protection Agency

Growing Green: How Urban Agriculture Creates Prosperity and Sustainability in Atlanta – The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability’s urban agriculture leadership is battling food deserts with community gardens and farmers markets. Because of supporting the local non-profit Truly Living Well through the permitting and zoning processes, the Westside of Atlanta is now home to the Collegetown Garden. This organic garden hopes to build a local food economy and transform a neighborhood in a city plagued with food deserts. For the future, the city has an ambitious goal of bringing local, healthy food within a half-mile of 75 percent of all its residents by 2020. In this session, Summit attendees will tour an Atlanta urban farm and hear how farmers are building economic prosperity through the local food economy.

Presenters: Rashid Nuri, Truly Living Well; Mario Cambardella, City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability; Cicely Garrett, City of Atlanta, Office of Resilience

Next Generation Neighborhoods: Building the First EcoDistricts Certified Cohort  – Hurt Plaza Building  – This studio brings together leaders from the first cohort of projects pursuing EcoDistricts Certified. As a community, this group will collectively share lessons learned, advance best practices, and inform the evolution of the EcoDistricts standard. The session will include brief presentations from each district so team members are oriented to other projects. Participants will dive into the first steps of Certification with guidance and a work session around the imperative commitments. Finally, participants will discuss the ongoing structure of this EcoDistricts cohort to formalize a structure that best supports their work.

Presenters: Naomi Cole, EcoDistricts; Eliot Allen, Criterion Planners

Emory Atlanta WaterHub: Advancing Expertise and Assets for Collaborative Benefit – Putting UN Goals to Action  – Emory University  – Emory University is home to the first decentralized ecological water reclamation system in the US: the Emory WaterHub. The WaterHub began as a collaboration between Emory and the surrounding community to develop a solution to localized flooding and wastewater contamination. The WaterHub project is an example of the types of collaboration that we hope will become even more common as Emory works with Georgia Tech, Spelman, and other stakeholders around the region to establish a new regional sustainability network affiliated with the United Nations — the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE). This session will include a tour of the WaterHub, a facilitated conversation with RCE stakeholders, and group discussions exploring the issues and projects suited to regional networks with university participation.

Presenters: Bob Salvatelli Sustainable Water; Jennifer Hirsch, Georgia Technical Institute; Josh Harvey, CARE; Kwabena Nkromo, Atlanta Food & Farm; Art Frazier Spelman College; Elizabeth Kramer, UGA Extension; Peter Habib Emory University; Ciannat Howett, Emory University

7:00pm – 10:00pm
Studio No. 7


The 2017 EcoDistricts Summit Block Party will be held at Studio No. 7, a local event space with two outdoor areas, a gallery, loft and lounge. The Block Party will host an exhibit from Designing the We, a social impact design studio creating an interactive installation to help Summit attendees explore the effects of redlining on an Atlantan community. We’ll also feature photography from artists Norman Bush, whose photographic archive of urban street posters documents more than a half a century of politics, culture, and emotion in cities. Join EcoDistricts, Summit speakers, local Atlanta city makers, and fellow conference attendees to celebrate the 2017 Summit and enjoy an evening of good food, libations, and conversation.


Day 2 • Wednesday, 11 October, 2017

Loudermilk Conference Center
40 Courtland St NE • Atlanta, GA 30303

7:30am – 8:30am


8:30am – 9:45am


Our Master Facilitators will kick off day two of the Summit with a recap of the Studio session outcomes. Then, attendees will come together at their tables for day two introductions and aspirations,  and to discuss learnings from the day before, setting the stage for the day’s inspiring conversations and work sessions.

9:45am – 10:15am


The Great EcoDistricts Experiment

Doug Farr, Founding Principal and President of Farr Associates, is a national leader in designing sustainable neighborhoods and buildings. In his morning keynote, Doug will outline our collective pledge to join the EcoDistricts experiment and consider some of the big questions in this movement: What if EcoDistricts never existed? Or what if it succeeds wildly? How would the world be different? Doug’s keynote will cover ideas about how to change the world quickly, and will provide attendees with an urgent call to action to prioritize outcomes in equity, resilience, and climate protection.

10:15am – 10:45am


10:45am – 11:45am
Loudermilk Conference Center


The Case Study Breakthrough sessions will introduce attendees to diverse neighborhood projects from across the country, from San Francisco’s Chinatown to Toronto’s East Harbour.

Fostering Culture in Community in Chinatown, San Francisco and RiNo, Denver
Mark Pope Room
Jamie Licko, Executive Director, RiNo Arts District; Cindy Wu, Deputy Director of Operations, Chinatown Community Development Center

Cultural districts are fostering community in a variety of neighborhoods across the country. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. Denver’s River North (RiNo) neighborhood is a former industrial area transformed into an artistic hub of the city. Both community preservation efforts have been led by empowered residents and community focused organizations.

Lessons from the First Ecodistricts: Lloyd Ecodistrict, Portland and Capitol Hill Ecodistrict, Seattle
McCaela Daffern, Sustainability Manager, Capitol Hill Housing; Sarah Heinicke, Executive Director, Lloyd Ecodistrict

The Capitol Hill and Lloyd Ecodistricts in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR began as two of the first adopters of the original EcoDistricts Framework. Over more than half a decade, both communities have integrated sustainability with the desires and needs of local residents and business owners through effective project governance.

From Old Brownfield to New Development: East Harbour, Toronto
Childs Young Room
Derek Goring, Vice President, Development, First Gulf; Doug Webber, Vice President, Sustainability and Energy, WSP

Located on a 60-acre site east of Toronto’s downtown, East Harbour is the largest commercial project currently planned in Canada. East Harbour will be a development catalyst for critical infrastructure — including major transit projects – in and around the area, and will transform a previously inaccessible site into a world-class centre for art, commerce, and healthy living.

Community Development Powerhouse: Millvale, Pennsylvania
Mallory Womble, President, Millvale Library; Christine Mondor, Principal, evolveEA

Former Rustbelt community Millvale, PA is a national example of the power of community-led transformational change at the neighborhood scale. Millvale is a small riverside community outside of Pittsburgh, PA that has been thrust into the national spotlight as a model of environmental planning thanks to their wildly successful, resident-driven Ecodistrict initiative.

Inclusive Mixed-Use Development from the Rockies to the Southeast
Paul Duke Room
Christina Davis, Senior Project Manager, Columbia Residential; Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director, Denver Housing Authority

Affordable housing providers across the country are demonstrating that mixed-use, transit-oriented development can be sustainable and inclusive, serving vulnerable urban neighborhoods. The Sun Valley Neighborhood in Denver, CO is a historically low-density, low-income community that is home to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Led by the Denver Housing Authority, the Sun Valley neighborhood is poised for holistic redevelopment with resident-focused equity, environmental justice and public health as its driving forces. In the Southeast, affordable housing provider Columbia Residential is designing award-winning mixed-income projects that built healthy, inclusive, and prosperous communities. 

11:45am – 1:15pm


1:15pm – 2:45pm
Loudermilk Conference Center


The Afternoon Breakthrough sessions will showcase collaborative thinking on critical EcoDistricts topics. Attendees will hear from national leaders in topics such as resilient neighborhoods, smart cities, and project financing, and examine how to apply best practices in Atlanta-area projects and neighborhoods across the globe.

Building Healthy, Equitable, and Resilient Cities: The Role of Racial Equity Impact Assessments in Race-Making and Place-Making
Edward Hill, Director of Advisory Services, EcoDistricts; Molly Urbina, Executive Director, Colorado Resilience and Recovery Office; Antwi Akom, Co-Founder + Executive Director, Streetwyze; Aekta Shah, Program Director, Technology and Community Engagement, Streetwyze

Equity is an action, and for successful action to occur, planning and design are required. Building healthy and inclusive communities requires working with underrepresented and under-informed communities to progress solutions to local disparities, while building participants’ creative confidence and professional competencies across skills and sectors. In this session, participants will learn how to grow equity effectively using Racial Equity Impact Assessments and other responsive tools. We will discuss and co-create solutions for current issues of racial and economic disparities, their impacts, and the power of designing and implementing equity strategies that create neighborhoods for all.

Building Community Resilience to Climate Change
Anna Cablick Room + Meeting Room 6
Peter Olson, Director/Creative Technologist, IDEO; Lauren Shapiro, Software Developer, IDEO

In this talk, we will discuss how IDEO and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods worked with policy makers, experts, not-for-profits and the people of New York to attack the systemic problem of flood resilience and create a tool that helps contextualize the risk that flooding poses and guide users through the complicated arena of flood resilience. We will cover how we used design thinking methodologies, coupled with community engagement, coalition building, technology and data to create FloodHelpNY.org, a simple but powerful platform for neighborhoods at risk of flooding in New York. We will additionally cover how the design process, strategy and principles used to create FloodHelpNY can be applied to a broad range of systemic civic resilience and sustainability challenges. 

All the Way to the Bank: Financing Major Neighborhood Projects
Mark Pope Room
Warren Neilson, Principal, stok; Jo Danko, Managing Director of City Solutions, CH2M

Unfortunately, a major perceived hurdle in implementing Ecodistricts is the cost. This presentation will present inequities in the economic models that prevent high performance projects from being implemented. Research shows that if large scale projects are designed correctly and account for the positive externalities associated with them, any first cost premium will be offset by the benefits of those who occupy or own them. This presentation will examine the financial stakeholders for ecodistricts; corporate occupiers, short-term investors, and long-term investors, as each of these have different priorities for value creation, and will help attendees return from EcoDistricts Summit armed with simple yet effective financial metrics that will help influence decision makers to pursue large scale projects that foster healthy, productive communities.

Smart Makes Sense: Using Technology to Make More Livable Communities
Anne Cramer Room
Derek Dauphin, Senior Planner, City of Pittsburgh, PA; Melanie Nutter, Principal, Nutter Consulting; Rachel Stark, Principal Landscape Architect + Urban Designer, City of Charlotte, NC

Integrated data and information communication technology is starting to become a critical backbone to sustainable city-making and management. Our ability to gather and analyze data and create interconnected information platforms for the purposes of building greater intelligence of our urban systems, is rapidly evolving. When we embrace a smart cities lens to our district and neighborhood planning and design processes, the opportunities to create more livable, efficient, and resilient communities are enhanced. This breakthrough session will explore how a smart cities agenda in neighborhood development can lead to sustainable outcomes. 

Intentional and Equitable: Capital Investment Screens that Drive Community Outcomes
Paul Duke Room
Douglass Sims, Director of Strategy and Finance, Center for Market Innovation, Natural Resources Defense Council; Caroline Wagner, Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners

Why do real estate and infrastructure projects that sound good on paper end up reinforcing old patterns of poor health outcomes, racial disparity, and environmental degradation? The Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), is tackling these questions as part of a three-year, $90 million initiative to amplify local efforts to ensure that new capital investments lead to equitable, healthy opportunities for everyone. In this session, we’ll share how SPARCC is approaching this work in five communities across the country, informed by their prior work on how to create “high road” infrastructure. Participants will experience how communities can work with investors and development teams to utilize investment screens that ensure that ensure that outcomes of real estate and infrastructure projects align with the community vision and economic and technical realities.

Outside the Built Form: Integrating Ecology into EcoDistrict Considerations
Childs Young Room
Keith Bowers, President, Biohabitats; Kathryn Kolb, Director, Eco-A EcoAddendum; Jennifer Dowdell, Project Manager, Biohabitats; Kevin Bacon, Atlanta City Studio Assistant Director, City of Atlanta

While cities have made strides in developing strategies for sustainable approaches to electricity, transit, and water, integrating urban ecology into district-scale planning can be challenging as ecological processes operate at multiple scales. Fortunately, city-wide planning efforts that identify ecology as an important foundation are becoming more common across North America and Europe. Atlanta has recently begun its own efforts to integrate ecological thinking into citywide planning. In this session, we’ll share examples from Baltimore and other municipalities to explore how Atlanta’s legacy as a “City in a Forest” provides unique opportunities, and engage the group in a discussion on how ecology can inform Ecodistrict initiatives.

Getting to Zero: Net Zero Carbon Neighborhoods
Dave Ramslie, Principal, Integral Group; Christopher Rhie, Senior Consultant, BuroHappold Engineering; Tim Taylor, Smart Sustainable Districts Programme Manger, Climate-KIC

The pressure has never been greater to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and with intermittent leadership at the national level, cities and neighborhoods and being relied upon to the be the leaders and engines to drive transformative change and deep emissions reductions. This session will be half presentation and half workshop where participants will have access to expertise from US, Canada, and the UK on theory and practice of planning, implementing and activating Zero Carbon Districts. Speakers will share tools, approaches, case studies, and stories on how to lead on carbon.

2:45pm – 3:00pm


3:00pm – 5:00pm


Summit attendees will come together for a final working session to develop real outcomes from Summit sessions. Together, we’ll create a set of 10 actionable recommendations around implementing “Neighborhoods For All” in communities across the globe.

7:00pm – 9:00pm


Join a Summit table leader and small group of your Summit peers for a no-host dinner at restaurants around the city of Atlanta. EcoDistricts makes the reservations, and you show up for a night of good food and conversation with an engaging table leader. It’s that simple!



Thursday, 12 October, 2017

Center for Civic Innovation • 115 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Suite 200 • Atlanta, GA 30303


9:00am – 4:30pm

The EcoDistricts Foundation Course will immerse attendees in the approach and tools to create EcoDistricts, a unique standard for inclusive, democratized, neighborhood-scale development and redevelopment that puts people at the forefront, with equity, resilience, and climate protection at the heart of every decision. This course is for architects, developers, planners, community development professionals, and municipal leaders seeking to advance their skills, apply the EcoDistricts standard, and become an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional.
Click here to register or find out more.