Court Gould, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh
, could not be happier with the way the Dec. 10 “Sustainability EXPOsed” event highlighted new ideas for business and the community: "People around the region would be pleased to hear that 500-plus young, emerging leaders and veterans came together to hear one remarkably rapid-paced presentation after another whose focus was on providing up-to-date, eye-popping insights into the ways the practice of sustainability is paving the path to prosperity, public health and access to opportunity at greater levels."
Paul Hawken, author of four national bestsellers, including The Ecology of Commerce
and Blessed Unrest
, told the crowd that "sustainability goes right to the heart of reinvigorating the Pittsburgh region's story of innovating its way around adversity." Pursuing life, liberty and happiness today, Hawkens added, includes having clean air and water and equitable access to opportunity – qualities not particularly encouraged by our winner-take-all way of conducting commerce.
"There are more evolved models and we need not look very far," Gould points out -- look at our natural eco-systems, he says, "where everything is interconnected and nothing is wasted.
"This is all about our perception," Gould adds. "We can either view climate change as a daunting challenge for which we can do little or we can view it as an opportunity … for us to shift what we value." For our region, this spells opportunities for doing business by emphasizing the local, the collaborative and the interdependent, all toward maximizing social benefit, "where businesses' values come from their role in improving community."
Nature does not negotiate, Hawken concluded, and we fail to appreciate this fact at our own peril.
Projjal Dutta, director of sustainability initiatives for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, spoke on?“Taking the car out of carbon,” addressing how public transport systems in dense cities improve our quality of life and help us move from sprawl to community building, reducing carbon emissions in the meantime.
Gould says he was also very impressed with Jerry Tinianow, chief sustainability officer for Denver, who "brought home the message of how sustainability at its core is about behavior and choice," and with Jeanne VanBriesen, Carnegie Mellon University professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of their Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems (Water-QUEST) project. He says she "raised awareness to the literal reality that all water use is highly energy-dependent," and that an efficient use of water resources would be a sign of true sustainability for a region or society.
The audience was also invited to discuss their best recommendations for our region, led by representatives from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who, Gould says, will use the discussion to put together their next regional agenda report, due at the end of January.
"Our region has the opportunity to seize being the place the world goes to in order to solve hard problems," was the conclusion of Mickey McManus, CEO and principal of MAYA Design, Gould says. "The Pittsburgh region is uniquely positioned to be the leading site for a shift to building an ecosystem for business based on these concepts of mutuality and innovation … The result can be rising to the top of the economic value chain while achieving a transition to a more functional, sustainable natural systems-based economy."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh