“When I see a business doing things that don’t immediately respond to their bottom line, that’s a real clear indication that they get it,” says Brian Jensen, senior vice president for civic policy at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
What they get is the idea that “Smart Growth is Smart Business” – the theme of the city’s 11th annual Smart Growth Conference
on Dec. 13.
The conference features sessions on innovative finance, blight and abandonment, green infrastructure and the indicators of smart growth. Former Clinton cabinet member Henry Cisneros, head of the CityView institutional investment firm, and Robert Lang, a Fellow of the Urban Land Institute, lead a lengthy list of presenters.
To be smart about growth, businesses need to realize that even multi-national corporations are still local to someone. “How that [local] community operates is going to affect their labor force, resourcing of materials, tax climate and regulatory climate,” says Jensen, who also heads the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “The geographical climate they work in will affect their operability and ultimately their profitability.”
They’ve also got to take the long view – both in planning and in how they operate today. Building green, for instance, “costs money up front. If a business is willing to make that upfront investment, over time their energy costs are going to be reduced.” However, the smartest businesses realize that going green “is largely an effort to try to reduce the amount of wastewater that goes through our sewers. It really is more of a response to larger community needs.”
Besides the Allegheny Conference, the other event sponsors are the Green Building Alliance, NAIOP Pittsburgh Chapter, Pittsburgh Technology Council, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Sustainable Pittsburgh, and the Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh District Council.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Brian Jensen, Allegheny Conference on Community Development