2017 Conference Program
We're working hard to generate a 2017 Summit program that unpacks Atlanta's unique sustainability story. In the meantime, we invite you to explore our 2016 program below as an example of what you can expect to experience next October.
Interested in speaking at the 2017 EcoDistricts Summit? The Call for Proposals for this year's conference opens in March.
Browse the 2016 Program
PROGRAM // TUESDAY
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Plenary Sessions: Cracking Open Denver's Vibrancy Story
Denver Art Museum, Ponti Hall • 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy • Denver, CO 80204
At the stunning Denver Art Museum in the heart of the city's Civic Center, we unpacked Denver’s unique contributions to world-class sustainable urban development with showcases of catalytic placemaking, health districts, scaling connectivity, civic innovation and net zero design. Keynotes, TED style presentations and rapid-fire interview panels were interspersed with compelling, international stories of citizen activation and urban revitalization.
7:30am - 8:30am
REGISTRATION + BREAKFAST
8:30am - 8:45am
8:45am - 9:00am
After decades of sprawl, many American city and suburban residents struggle with issues related to traffic (and its accompanying challenges for our health and productivity), divided neighborhoods, and a non-walkable life. Urban designer Ryan Gravel makes a case for how we can change this in his new book "Where We Want to Live." Cities have the capacity to create a healthier, more satisfying way of life by remodeling and augmenting their infrastructure in ways that connect neighborhoods and communities. Gravel came up with a way to do just that in his hometown with the Atlanta Beltline project. Attendees learned about his approach to catalytic neighborhood development projects in this inspiring Summit opening keynote.
9:00am - 10:00am
PLENARY: CATALYTIC PLACEMAKING THAT CHANGES CITIES
Denver is undergoing a massive urban transformation, drawing in a new generation of residents with new demands and a desire to live in the heart of the city. In this main stage panel discussion, a full panel of experts explored Denver’s catalytic neighborhood-scale placemaking projects. We discussed the impact these projects are having on the city and region as a whole, namely in re-imagining how Denver defines livability, thoughtfully addressing the equity gap, minimizing urban sprawl, attracting and keeping residents and local businesses, and returning vibrancy to the Mile High City's urban core.
10:00am - 10:30am
NETWORKING BREAK: EXHIBITOR HALL OPEN
10:30am - 11:30am
PLENARY: THE INTERCONNECTED NEIGHBORHOOD
Over the past 10 years, Denver has reimagined its future as a dynamic, interconnected metro region – with transit and multi-modal connectivity forming the backbone of a multi-jurisdictional investment strategy. The result is a blueprint that supports dense and vibrant neighborhood development and a regional affordable housing strategy that integrates jobs and transportation access. At the same time, a new generation of “last mile” mobility solutions are emerging – utterly transforming the local urban landscape. We spoke with the leaders of this extraordinary mobility revolution and how it is impacting Denver and cities throughout the world, and kicked off the session with a TED Talk keynote from one of the world's leading experts in the sharing economy, Julian Agyeman.
11:30am - 12:00pm
ATTENDEE ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITY
12:00pm - 1:30pm
A showcase of Denver's culinary and entrepreneurial diversity was waiting to be explored just outside the Denver Art Museum. Attendees dined from one of 30 of the best food trucks from the Denver region in Civic Center park with cuisines that include Asian, Cajun & Creole, Latin, Mediterranean, and Italian and enjoyed live music amongst the tree-covered seating and the outdoor amphitheater.
1:30pm - 2:30pm
PLENARY: THE CIVIC INNOVATION REVOLUTION
The paradox of cities as growing centers of capital and ideas while simultaneously struggling with decades of disinvestment and social isolation is leading to new models of civic engagement, entrepreneurism and “people first” design solutions. In an effort to address declining economic mobility and neighborhood vibrancy, a new generation of civic disruptors are making cities more dynamic, equitable and smarter in the areas of economic development, IT, placemaking and environmental justice. We introduced attendees to a few and heard their stories and the impact they are having in their communities and beyond.
Founder & Executive Director, Center for Civic Innovation
2:30pm - 3:00pm
NETWORKING BREAK, EXHIBITOR HALL OPEN
3:00pm - 4:00pm
PLENARY: THE DNA OF A HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOOD
Increasingly we are learning how our buildings and neighborhoods are contributing to sickness and chronic disease. The green and “well’ building movement has demonstrated that healthy buildings result in fewer sick days and improved productivity for residents, workers, and schoolchildren alike. Wellness, however, is more the building; it includes how our communities are designed to support healthy lifestyles. From access to healthy food to transportation choices, our neighborhood design has serious consequences for health and opportunity. We explored how the intersection of professions – architects, planners, community advocates, developers, technology providers, and health professionals – are working in neighborhoods to design solutions that lead to better health outcomes and overall quality of life.
Vice President, International Well Building Institute
4:00pm - 5:00pm
MASTER SPEAKER SERIES: MILE HIGH ZED
Since publication of its original Climate Action Plan in 2007, Denver has continued to lead in municipal climate planning and the prioritization of clean energy and green infrastructure development. With the 2013 release of its 2020 Sustainability Goals and 2015 Climate Action Plan, Denver is embracing a larger ambition. A panel of ecological design, energy and climate protection leaders talked about the role of “net zero” neighborhoods and districts in elevating a city’s resiliency and deep green agenda.
5:00pm - 5:30pm
ATTENDEE ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITY
7:00pm - 10:30pm
ECODISTRICTS BLOCK PARTY
We took the Summit outdoors and down into LoDo for an evening of music, street food, Colorado libations, and great conversation. The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado has long been the center for Denver and the state’s sustainability movement and was a proud host for this year’s Block Party. Attendees tasted delicious fair from local food cart vendors (and small business success stories) the Taste of the Philippines and La Chiva, sipped New Belgium Brewing craft beer and hand-made margaritas from LoDo local, Coyote Gold and kicked back to lively music from DJ Adam Kremer who daylights as a water resource engineer.
PROGRAM // WEDNESDAY
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Studio Sessions: Expanding Your Vibrancy Toolbox
Denver Art Museum, Ponti Hall • 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy • Denver, CO 80204
History Colorado Center • 1200 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
Our day two Studio Sessions boasted 14 carefully curated conversations on how to form, launch and accelerate district scale sustainability. Attendees dove deep into effective models of district Formation including success stories in community engagement, governance and community assessment. We explored innovative district financing, public policy and setting your course to meaningful district outcomes, and heard how a diverse mix of districts have achieved compelling results in equity, resilience and climate protection.
8:00am - 9:00am
Denver Art Museum, Ponti Hall
9:00am - 9:30am
9:30am - 10:00am
10:00am - 11:30am
Studio Sessions: Morning
Attendees dove deep into effective models of district Formation, exploring success stories in community engagement, governance, and community assessment. We hosted five unique 90-minute sessions stationed at the History Colorado Center of Denver Art Museum.
BOTTOM UP COMMUNITY ACTIVATION FOR DISTRICT-SCALE SUCCESS
EcoDistrict planning is most successful when project teams focus on not just the technology that allows the community to reduce their environmental impact (the “hardware” of a community), but also on building community capacity to increase the community’s long term ability to shape their own environment (the “software” of a community). In this presentation, presenters demonstrated how community empowerment and placemaking are mutually beneficial and how project teams can meaningfully contribute to resilient and equitable EcoDistricts - in distressed communities or any community. Attendees participated in exercises that demonstrate that the race is really the prize.
BEYOND TIF: A FINANCE MODEL FOR THE PHOENIX GATEWAY AND BEYOND
As traditional sources for infrastructure finance shrink up, would-be EcoDistrict project sponsors are hard pressed to secure financing up-front. For the Reinvent Phoenix project, a method of meeting these costs through pre-development financing using an off-balance-sheet mechanism makes such upfront financing feasible. This method of financing and governing in a mixed use, high density transit oriented district was shared with audience engagement to highlight its potential applicability to EcoDistrict projects across the country.
RIGHT TO ROOT RECIPE: OVERCOMING THE PUSH/PULL FACTORS OF DISPLACEMENT THROUGH EQUITABLE DEVELOPMENT
Through case studies and small group discussions, speakers provided participants with some tools and strategies for how to address the push/pull factors of displacement and gentrification in their own neighborhoods. Through a Community of Practice facilitation model, participants had an opportunity to workshop the unique displacement pressures impacting their own communities and left with clear next steps as to what they could do to master truly equitable development for all.
TAKING THE HIGH ROAD: A NEW APPROACH FOR INTEGRATING SOCIAL VALUES
When it comes to infrastructure, the status quo is limiting our potential to invest with our communities’ futures in mind. This session explored the High Road Infrastructure Project’s focus on a community’s ability to provide electricity, waste, stormwater and transportation services while creating valuable benefits and opportunities for the people that live there. The panel provided High Road examples that generate new ways to fund, finance and deliver community wide projects. Breakouts allowed participants to immediately apply these principles to EcoDistrict projects.
RESILIENCE PLANNING AT THE DISTRICT SCALE
This session introduced a staged process for preparing a resilience element in community, redevelopment and/or local economic development plans. The approach focuses on all risks to achieving the targeted benefits, functions, and performance of the district. Stakeholders work together to prepare a risk management plan that includes risk hotspot prioritization, mitigation measures, insurance innovation, resilience upgrading, and performance management. Cases from New York, Santa Monica and Toronto, Canada were presented. Table exercises were used to explore the approach.
11:30am - 12:45pm
Attendees explored showcase of Denver's culinary and entrepreneurial diversity just outside the Denver Art Museum, dining from one of 30 of the best food trucks from the Denver region in Civic Center park with cuisines that included Asian, Cajun & Creole, Latin, Mediterranean, and Italian.
12:45pm - 2:15pm
Studio Sessions: After Lunch
Attendees explored the keys to effective district financing, public policy, and setting the course to meaningful district outcomes through from five unique 90-minute sessions stationed at the History Colorado Center of Denver Art Museum.
SMART DISTRICTS POWERING SUSTAINABLE CITIES
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 studio session offered a panel of smart cities leaders who shared real-life case studies of how a smart cities agenda in neighborhood development can lead to sustainable outcomes.
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, DESIGNED
There is a long history of the powerful and direct relationship between the design of cities and public health, and it has become more significant as the world becomes more urbanized with people continuing to locate to cities. This session shared explicit real-world examples how policies and urban design solutions are applied in neighborhoods to achieve healthy communities in the areas of better physical environmental, economic opportunities, and social outcomes.
A JUST TRANSITION TO CLEAN ENERGY AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE
Climate resiliency experts lead a roundtable discussion with participants that explored implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan in a manner that not only mitigates climate change but also prioritizes neighborhood scale clean energy options and green job opportunities in environmental justice communities. Public works policy-makers and professionals, civic engagement and research specialists, and community development experts engaged in a multi-faceted discussion about the roles they will play in the just transition to clean energy and climate resilience.
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE: TRIUMPHS AND TEARS
What works (and what fails) to create sustainable water infrastructure? At the district level, energy is often considered easier to manage than water, in part because of complexity and quantity of existing water infrastructure. Each of four panelists briefly presented their insights on improving the integration of water strategies, addressing challenges in engineering, regulatory compliance, community support, and ecological function. A facilitated discussion followed.
LEADING ENERGY SYSTEM TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE MILE HIGH CITY AND BEYOND
Cities and development teams are working to figure out how to successfully transition to sustainable, zero emission buildings, districts and cities. This session brought together members of both development teams and cities to share how they are tackling this challenge and engage audience members in a discussion on how to better collaborate and affect the change needed to accelerate the transition to zero emissions. First, participants from the Mile High Zero Energy/Emissions District (ZED) provided an overview of four projects and the approach to collaboration they are using to enhance each project's individual efforts and overcome policy barriers. Then, participants heard from members of a team working to develop a guide supported by the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance focused on decarbonizing cities’ energy systems.
2:15pm - 2:45pm
2:45pm - 4:15pm
Studio Sessions: Afternoon
Attendees enhanced their toolbox with case studies and world-class examples of projects continually raising the bar in district performance across equity, resilience and climate protection in four unique 90-minute sessions stationed at the History Colorado Center of Denver Art Museum.
CALIFORNIA'S CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUND: TRANSFORMATIONAL COMMUNITIES
Years before the Paris accords, the State of California passed pioneering legislation to decarbonize the state, catalyzing a series of cross-sector initiatives investing in sustainable communities. Fees on industries (cap and trade) has translated into several billions of dollars a year invested in green energy, housing, transportation, and natural resources – focused on communities most impacted by pollution. California is building the first high-speed rail system in North America, and has embraced the eco-district framework for their 24 station cities across 500 miles. This session provided an overview of the HSR system and Authority sustainability priorities including details of how ecodistricts catalyze conditions of the system’s success and how government entities can scale-up the EcoDistricts Protocol.
FINDING A COMMON LANGUAGE: PERFORMANCE METRICS FOR DISTRICT-SCALE SUCCESS
Attendees learned how developers, designers and public agencies are measuring the success of their land use projects, considering equity, resilience and climate change preparedness. We zoomed into specific case studies presented by the designers who created them, while also zooming out to two different organizations researching them to identify key performance metrics that help us all speak a common language. The Landscape Performance Series, a set of online resources to help make the case for sustainable landscape solutions was introduced, along with the Urban Land Institute’s work on identifying metrics for resilient development projects.
ECODISTRICTS LIVE AND LEARN / TRY AND TELL
Excited (or anxious) about district/neighborhood-scale planning, but not sure it’s feasible in your area? Overwhelmed by technical feasibility? Unsure how to convene a successful coalition to plan, champion, and implement an EcoDistrict? Attendees in this session heard honest, real-life successes and challenges from 3 unique San Francisco EcoDistricts: Chinatown (established and dense), Central SoMa (transitioning for major growth), and Mission Rock (blank-slate new neighborhood). Then, each brought a personal challenge to a break-out group discussion (in topic areas such as equity, district-scale infrastructure, performance targets, partnership building, and more), learned from other professionals grappling with similar issues, and came away with new ideas, resources, networks, and inspiration for moving ahead.
TALES FROM ACROSS THE POND: SUCCESSFUL URBAN REGENERATION IN AMSTERDAM AND SWEDEN
This session examined two different approaches to successful neighborhood regeneration in Europe. Rosengard, Malmö, Sweden successfully moved from a period of riots, due to a disenfranchised immigrant population by actively engaging and empowering young Muslim women in participatory place making. They organized and led design workshops, redesigning the town center, creating a social space and climate action gardens working with Rosengard residents and the City of Malmö Environmental and Parks Departments. In the Netherlands, unlike traditional developments initiated by cities, developers and housing corporations, the pilot brownfield transformation of the Buiksloterham district of Amsterdam-Noord was intentionally organic; based on simple urban plans in which individuals and groups could build their own housing. The prototype district has been a smashing success, paying a clear "resilience dividend" for the area with increased diversity, economic resiliency, and environmental performance.
4:45pm - 5:15pm
6:30pm - 9:30pm
SPONSORED NETWORKING DINNERS
PROGRAM // THURSDAY
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Mobile Tours: Vibrancy in Action
Greater Denver Area
Attendees capped off their Summit experience by kicking the tires with some of Denver’s most successful districts and neighborhoods. Our robust mobile walking tours gave first hand access to key leaders and sites across Denver’s sustainable development movement.
9:00am - 10:00am
TRANSIT TO MOBILE TOURS
10:00am - 12:30pm
URBANLAB MOBILE TOURS
CHERRY CREEK TRAIL & SOUTH PLATTE RIVER BIKE TOUR
Exploring: Catalytic Projects, Connectivity, & Net ZED
An interactive bicycle tour of the Cherry Creek Trail explored some of Denver’s best examples of open space, placemaking, and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure... LEARN MORE
Exploring: Catalytic Projects, Civic Innovation, & Art
This tour explored how local artists, organizations, entrepreneurs and developers are working together to ensure that the looming boom of the RiNo District has positive, equitable repercussions for the entire community.... LEARN MORE
MARIPOSA AND SUN VALLEY
Exploring: Connectivity, Catalytic Projects, & Equity
This tour explored the comprehensive affordable housing and development initiatives in the Mariposa and Sun Valley neighborhoods... LEARN MORE
UNION STATION & LOWER DOWNTOWN (LODO)
Exploring: Civic Innovation & Catalytic Projects
On this tour, participants learned about the restoration of historic Union Station, its role as the transportation hub for the city, and Lower Downtown (LoDo), an historic downtown neighborhood that has been completely restored and renovated to make it one of the liveliest areas in the city... LEARN MORE
12:00pm - 12:30pm
CONCLUSION OF SUMMIT
EcoDistricts Research Forum
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER • NO ADDITIONAL FEE TO PARTICIPATE • 9:00am - 5:00pm
The third annual Research Forum gathered researchers, policymakers and practitioners to engage in a facilitated discussion and interchange of ideas designed to help shape the evolving research on sustainable district-scale development.
EcoDistricts Accredited Practitioner Training
ALLIANCE FOR SUSTAINBLE COLORADO • SHOULDER EVENT • 9:00am - 5:00pm
EcoDistricts Accreditation launched with a bang at the EcoDistricts Summit. This full day of education prepared practitioners to sit for the EcoDistricts Accredited Professional exam.
Additional registration and fee required